Create Flat Vector Design from Photo in Inkscape

In this Inkscape tutorial, you will learn how to create a flat color vector design from a photograph. Along with that, I will explain how to make a more visually interesting image with the choice of colors and using negative space to suggest things that aren’t there. Just because we use a photo does not mean we have to follow it 100% and in fact, we can use it as a base and get very creative.



How to Create a Vector Graphic from a Photo Step by Step Tutorial

Step 1 – Download and Import the Photo

Here is the link to download the photo. I’m a big fan of Unsplash, as the photos are from professional photographers and are very high quality. Most importantly they are 100% copyright free.

Just drag the image into the Inkscape window and the image will be imported.

Step 2 – Start drawing the Glasses

Using the Bezier Pen tool( B ) start at the top of the arm. Follow along the shape outlining the glasses. After creating sharp or big corners be sure to hold down ( Shift ) and bring the cursor back to the other node you just created. Doing this will create a corner node and will essentially reset the Bezier Pen allowing you to draw a straight line again.

Select # for the fill color of the Glasses. You can edit nodes by either clicking on the node itself or you can directly edit the path by clicking on it.

Step 3 – Draw the Hair

Starting from the outside of the hair trace along with the hair shape, again holding ( Shift ) when necessary. Don’t worry about trying to capture all the individual hairs and fine details. Our goal here is to communicate long flowing hair and we can do that with more big curves in our shape as well as focusing on the overall shape of the hair.

Select #f7d4af for the fill color of the hair. Now that the shape has color, go over and make adjustments to any nodes that make a curve you don’t like.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and use the ( Delete ) key to remove any node that did not turn out well.

With the hair selected, position it below the glasses by clicking the Lower Selection One Step button at the top or hitting ( Page Down ).

Step 4 – Draw that Jacket

Starting at the collar and over-emphasizing it by making it bigger is an artistic choice I made. Remember that you do not have to follow the photo perfectly and are only using it as a guide. Try to focus on creating shapes that will read at a distance and making the collar bigger in this instance is an example of that.

Continue to trace the jacket, I mixed using straight lines with curved ones to add visual interest. Straight hard lines read well.

Another artistic choice that I made was not including the front pocket portion as it’s not helping the jacket shape read better and only detracts from it.

Select #fcf3ec for the fill color of the jacket. Make adjustments to any nodes that do not look good.

Move the jacket down one step by hitting ( Page Down ) on the keyboard.

Step 5 –  Draw the Pants

Start at the top of the waist and follow the shape of the pants. Again try to simplify where possible and don’t be afraid of straight lines. Don’t forget to hold ( Shift ) down when drawing the nodes around the leg holes to allow for a straight 90-degree line. Use this technique whenever the curve for the next node will be too dramatic to use.

Select #2a2625 for the fill color of the pants.

Move the pants down one step by hitting ( Page Down ) on the keyboard.

Step 6 – Draw the Shoes

Continue the same process tracing out the shoe shapes. Remember to simply where possible to get the best read. Less is usually more.

Select #fcf3ec for the fill color of the shoes.

Step 7 – Remove the Strokes

Zoom out by holding ( Shift ) and make sure to select all the shapes drawn from the picture. Now in the Fill and Stroke tab under the Stroke click the red X. Alternatively you can do this by holding down ( Shift ) and clicking the red X in the bottom left head corner of the screen.

Step 8 – Create the Skateboard

Using the Squares and Rectangles tool( R ) create a rectangle roughly the same shape as the skateboard. Switch to the Edit Paths by Nodes tool( N ) and round all the corners completely by dragging down the circle node in the right-hand corner.

Using the Circles and Ellipses tool( E ) draw out an oval about the same size as the skateboard wheel. Most of it will be hidden behind the board so try to make the curve of the wheel that is showing. Duplicate that wheel with hitting ( Ctrl D ) and drag that one down to about the place of the other wheel.

Click on both wheels and hit ( D ) on the keyboard to bring up the color picker and select the color from the pants.

Click on the board and hit ( D ) again and select the color from the glasses.

Drop the opacity color of the skateboard. Using the Bezier Pen tool( B ) trace the shape of the thumb that is overlapping the skateboard. Select both the thumb shape and the board shape, go to the Paths tab at the top, and select Path Difference( Ctrl – ).

Step 9 – Add the Background

Delete the photo and draw a rectangle over all the shapes. Select #ed9555 for the fill color of the background. Using this orange color makes the glasses and board colors stand out and really grab attention.


Download the vector HERE


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