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Vector art

It's no great accident that vector illustration is currently one of the trendiest and easily recognisable of the digital art disciplines. The signature flat colours and clean lines are easy to spot and quick to grab attention, which of course makes the style hugely popular with advertisers looking to catch the eye of potential consumers. In addition, their reduced colour palettes and scalable technology means they are perfect when it comes to artwork for the Web.

Created with precision by manipulating Bezier paths, the mechanics of vectors are based on mathematic principles that make them infinitely scalable without suffering degradation. This trait is extremely attractive to illustrators because it means images can be shrunk to a stamp or stretched to a billboard, without having to be redone. Paths are also easy to edit at a later stage, making vector images quick to tweak and rearrange if need be.

Vector shapes are often produced with photographs or hand drawn scans as templates, digitally tracing as much of the outline and detail as needed. Programs such as Flash can even create vectors automatically by tracing over photographic or pre sketched material, allowing picture elements to be created quickly and with little effort. However, the real artistry comes when choosing which elements to take to the digital image, and knowing how to colour and arrange the final illustration.

Keeping up to date is crucial and, since digital artists typically spend hours in front of a screen involved in their masterpieces, it's all too easy to become isolated from what's going on around you. Styles ace constantly changing and trends can come and go at great speed, so keeping your finger on the industry pulse is vital. Not only does it make good commercial sense, but it can also act as a rich muse from which to draw ideas