I love vector artwork, and making it even more. However, I often use vector design more as a base for bitmap program like Corel Painter and Photoshop (see Woven Jelly, which combined all three). Basically I create large, easy to scale and export artwork that I can work on top of directly, or use to make selections and other things. It’s also easier to experiment with a look, or color options in a vector program, so you can play more with the concept before getting to the execution.
Playing off the isometric grid pattern I designed before (see Isoterra patterns), I decided to make a labyrinth design. A labyrinth can differ from a maze, like a meditation labyrinth which has no beginning or end and no wrong turns. I wanted something the mind could wander through, but never feel like it’s going in the wrong direction… to be lost but always found. As usual, I also wanted it to be BIG! So the repeat is sized at about 56″ x 68″.
My end result is not only a usable file, but with some effects and color play one could almost think it’s a finished image. And because it’s all vectors, I even did it in three different colors with gradients for depth and film grain for subtlety. I’m tentatively calling them Emerald, Sapphire and Gold
About My Process
To start, I have a large size vector file of the “isometric grid” which makes it super easy to build straight edged polygons in illustrator. This is especially true if you have the smart guides turned on. I just started plotting out the top faces of my labyrinth blocks with just a couple of rules:
- All the “paths” through the labyrinth must be one block wide
- No dead ends, all paths must flow into another
I started with the top layer for a couple of reasons. It’s the most prominent color/face of the forms. It’s also the best layer to create the basic repeat from because it has the diagonal lines you will need to be seamless. Just to note, through this process I can make the repeat as seamless as I like– since I’m going to use this as a base for other artwork, I don’t need it to be perfect, just accurate enough that I can fix or add things later in my bitmap programs. The challenge here was really to not overthink it and just start making the block tops, filling the center area of my artboard. Once I had a decent amount of block tops, I moved and copied the paths around to create the offset effect, then filled the spaces in the middle and changed other paths to fit. This was a lot easier to do in Illustrator than Photoshop, believe me.
Once I had a fairly seamless layer of block tops, it was pretty quick to plot out the other faces. Then it’s ready to go!