Small changes, big results

Today’s essential question: What can you adjust or change to bring your self-portrait closer to a professional level artwork?

Adjusting points and curves to smooth out shapes

To adjust an existing path, select the white arrow white_Arrow from the toolbar on the left side of the screen. Then click on the point you would like to adjust. You can move it using the arrow keys. You can also adjust the curves themselves by selecting the tangent lines or “handles” that appear on either side of the point you have selected.


Note: Tangent lines or handles only exist for curved lines. If you have made a bunch of straight lines close together, you will not be able to add curves later on, because they have no tangent points to adjust.

Adding or subtracting points from a path

If you would like to add or subtract points, click and hold on the pen tool until a variety of options pop up. Select either the “add anchor point” tool or the “delete anchor point” tool to add or delete points accordingly.

Adjusting color to create a more natural gradient

We have been using the eyedropper tool eyedropper to select colors. Unfortunately, imperfect lighting situations can alter the representation of colors, and keep us from creating a true value scale. For example, notice how the start of the Donald Trump image has a value scale that changes hue as well as value:

To remedy this, use the eyedropper tool eyedropper to select a mid-tone value, and then use the rectangle tool rectangle to create a series of squares. Now select one of the rectangles that you would like to lighten or darken, open up the color palette, and select a value that is directly above or below the existing value. This will be a true tint or shade of your mid-tone color.

Continue this until you have created a value scale. Then select any shapes that you would like to be the highlight color, and use the eyedropper tool to click on the square that contains your desired highlight color. This will change the shapes to  that color. Continue until you have adjusted all the colors.

Today we will:

  • Make minor adjustments to our projects to make them look more sophisticated. We will focus on:
    • Adjusting points and curves to smooth out shapes
    • Adjusting color to create a more natural gradient
  • Create a new blog post with a PDF of today’s work, as well as a brief reflection of what you worked on today and how it improved your project

Creating a Sophisticated Color Scheme

Today’s essential question: How can I pair neutrals and accent colors to create a sophisticated color scheme?

As you work on your self-portrait, think of how you can use color to establish mood and unity. To create a sophisticated color scheme, focus on neutrals and then add one or two bright accent colors for emphasis and contrast.

Neutrals are muted colors that go with everything. They include black, white, grey, brown, tan, and taupe. Correct use of neutrals will make your accent colors appear even brighter. Neutrals will often have a warm hue (ivory, brown, tan) or a cool hue (shades of gray).

Here are some examples of neutrals:



Example of neutrals paired with an accent color:


How have your classmates combined neutrals and accent colors to create sophisticated color schemes?

Self portrait

Zion, 11th Grade


Mabel, 11th Grade

Vector project

Devon, 12th Grade

selfie projec day6

Alyssa, 11th Grade

Today we will:

  • continue working on our vector self-portraits, focusing on how we are combining neutrals and accent colors to create a sophisticated color scheme
  • create a new blog post with a PDF of today’s progress, as well as a brief reflection on your project’s current color scheme

Creating a Unified Self-Portrait

How are the students featured below creating unity in their self-portraits?

Vector Self Portrait_Yolanda Santana3

Image Credit: Yolie, Grade 12

Vector SP

Image Credit: Zavion, Grade 11

Vector Self Portrait

Image Credit: Brian, Grade 11

Today we will:

  • Continue working on our vector self portraits, thinking of ways we can create a cohesive style throughout the piece
  • Post a PDF of our progress to our blogs. No credit will be issued for blog posts without a PDF!

Motivational Pep Talk

grumpy_cat_think_positive This is the toughest part of the project. You probably have enough done that you have a sense of what your image is supposed to look like, but not enough done to be proud of it. In fact, you may be wondering if there is hope for your project. Hang in there! This is normal. Keep working and I promise, you’ll be proud of the final result.

Remember to post a PDF of your progress to your blog at the end of today’s class.

Here is day-by-day outline of Lizzy’s vector Illustration. Notice that she spent 10 block classes on this piece:


Here is the finished project:


The level of detail is what makes this vector Illustration so successful.


Creating Expressive Lines in Illustrator

Today’s essential question: How can I create expressive lines in Illustrator that convey movement and emotion?

Look at the examples below. How did the artists convey movement and emotion through line weight and line shape? How do you think they created each example?





Today we will continue creating our vector self-portraits, paying attention to how line weight and line shape can influence the outcome of the self-portrait. Make sure you post a PDF of your progress to your blog. No credit will be given for blog posts that do not contain a PDF.

Copyright infringement or original design?

I recently came across an Etsy shop with several designs that were strikingly similar to ones I created years ago. My original examples are on the left; the artist in question created the designs on the right. What do you think – creepy coincidence, intentional infringement, or fair use?


left: Ms. Lawson’s original design; right: design in question


left: Ms. Lawson’s original design; right: design in question