vector art

Drawing Rounded Isometric Shapes using Hexels

By Mark Knight

With Hexels 3.1 comes the addition of the Super Shape tool. Developed with full control and isometric drawing in mind, this incredible tool can be used with grid snapping and opens up possibilities that were previously a real Hexels head-scratcher.

Let’s take a quick look at how the Super Shape tool was used to create some of the objects in this isometric breakfast scene.

Setting Up

I painted various tabletop objects using pixel layers and the tablecloth on a vector layer. I was aiming for a high resolution with pixelated edges, so the Pixel Trixels 1080p template was ideal.

Let’s start with the striped mug. I created a new pixel layer and changed my background and grid colors in the Document tab for clarity. I changed the Brush Size and selected the Pixel Square brush from the drop-down brush preset menu.

The Super Shape Tool

The Super Shape tool (L) can be found under the shape tools sub-menu on the left toolbar.

Holding Shift while drawing an Ellipse snaps the cursor to the grid. I clicked once and moved the cursor 5 trixels along the Z axis. This initial trixel line is the ellipse diameter. Before my second mouse click, I held down the Alt key to change the diameter line into the radius, doubling the diameter length. I performed the second mouse click and expanded the visible ellipse 5 trixels along the X axis before clicked again. The ellipse has blue control points that allow you to resize, move or scale the shape before committing. Pressing Enter confirms the shape.

Snapping Things into Place

Using the Marquee Select tool (S), I copied and pasted the lower half of the ellipse seven times while holding shift to align each selection vertically. I positioned each curve at 2 trixel intervals.

I switched to the Line tool (L) and added edges to the mug. Holding down Shift snaps the lines to the grid.

Returning to the Super Shape tool (L), I dragged a diameter horizontally and held down Alt to expand the ellipse vertically from the diameter center.

Creating the Coffee Mug

Using the Line tool (L) and Shift key grid snap, I created reference points for the mug handle ellipses. Clicking each of the two corresponding reference points, I dragged out the ellipse and deleted any unwanted areas with Marquee Select (S) and Backspace. I capped off the ends of the shape with the Line tool (L) and used the Fill tool (G) to fill the shape.

I used the Fill tool (G) to color the stripes around the mug.

To create the coffee, I duplicated the ‘mug’ layer and deleted all but the mug interior from the new layer. I used the Fill tool (F) to color the interior brown and re-positioned the selection slightly lower on the canvas. Reverting to the ‘mug’ layer, I re-selected the mug interior with the Magic Wand tool (S) and inverted the selection (Ctrl+Shift+I). I switched back to the new layer and used the Backspace key to delete the negative selection.

I drew a thick black line on a new layer and reduced the opacity for the shadow of the handle. The next step was to round off the handle ends. Using the Poly Select tool (S), I clicked multiple position points to create the curved edge of the handle. I closed my selection by double-clicking and pressed the Backspace key to delete.

The next step was to round off the handle ends. Using the Poly Select tool (S), I clicked multiple position points to create the curved edge of the handle. Once again, I closed my selection by double-clicking and pressed the Backspace key to delete.

Super Simple Torus

The techniques used to create the mug were utilized to create the other curved items in the scene. The following section is a brief overview of some of the other shapes found in the Super Shape tool (L).

The cereal hoops required a torus looking shape. I used the Super Shape tool (L) to draw circles and increased the Line width to 12 while holding down Shift for grid snapping to create even 2×2 hoops on a pixel layer.

The half apple seen here can be broken down into three elliptical elements. The unwanted apple circumference and the interior ellipse overlap areas were erased. The Fill tool (G) was used to color the apple and the remaining details were drawn freehand on a pixel layer.

The Grand Finale

The shape tools introduced in Hexels 3.1 make drawing in isometric perspective very easy and incredibly fun. The flexibility of changing shapes and sizes on the fly allows for fearless creation and experimentation. Build your own geometric breakfast using the free 14-day trial of Hexels.

Designing A Vector Art Movie Poster in Hexels

By Mark Knight

One of the many opportunities of creating art using Hexels is the ability to design eye-catching posters, book covers and art for branding purposes. Using various grids and vector based tools, graphic designers and illustrators can build up striking art for nearly any design project.

Lettuce Get Started

My intentions for this design were to create a Mexican food themed, action romance poster for a fake movie entitled “Guacboy and the Habanero Desert“. The image would include bold use of color, an unusual perspective, as well as original and imported text elements.

I’m going to start with the Trixels template, which uses a crisp vector based triangular grid.

I enlarged the canvas to 100×100 Hexels in the Canvas tab (top right) to allow room for moving elements around later. The poster will have a Mexican flair, so I’m changing the background color to a bold yellow (hex: e4f75f).

You Juan To Start Simple

With an isometric view in mind, I roughly sketched the Guacboy and Burrito babe characters on a new vector layer using the standard trixel grid (alt+1). Try to keep the level of detail low and simple. In this case, the lower legs are one trixel wide while the ankles have no trixel width.

I refined the sketch further using the Shards sub-grid (alt+5). Shards combines all trixel grids into one fine grid.

To make shapes and angles more defined, I added highlights and shadows to the characters by adjusting the Value slider (circled) in the Color tab.

Garnishing with Outlines

After adding some trixel texture to the Burrito filling, the Outline tool (O) was used to create salad elements, extend the avocado peel around the edge and add ankle width to the Burrito babe character.

Consider the versatility of the Outline tool when the shard grid doesn’t accommodate your trixel requirements.

An A-maize-ing Effect

Creating gloopy hot sauce couldn’t be simpler. On a new vector layer, I drew an S curve using the Shards sub-grid. To improve the look of the sauce, I navigated to Effect > Add Layer Effect > Distort > Blob.

This adds Blob to the post effects stack. Adjustable sliders allow for real-time control of the effect. Additional post effects can be found with the + icon (circled) to spice up your art.

The next step was to create cactus shadows. I drew elongated cactus silhouettes on a new vector layer using the Ramp Right grid (alt+2). Using the Magic Wand tool (S), I selected the first cactus and held down the Shift key to add additional selections. Pressing the Delete key (on keyboard) left the selection empty ready for the next step.

Using the Gradient tool (G) and selecting Foreground to Transparent from the gradient controls (top center), I dragged out the gradient and released the mouse once I was happy with the position. I lowered the layer’s opacity using the Opacity slider at the bottom of the Layers tab.

Let’s Taco ’Bout Composition

The Frame Tool (F) was used with a standard poster ratio of 27:41. This allows for composition and management of elements.

With the poster area defined, additional gradient layers were applied using the same technique as before. An orange radial gradient was applied behind the characters to distinguish the avocado core from the yellow background and add warmth to the image. Elements were arranged using the Transform tool (T).

Cornstructing A Title

The main title text was created on a new vector layer using the Shards grid (alt+5). With the exception of the letter ‘G’, lettering was created at the same scale. Once the text was complete, it was cut and pasted into 3 layers then resized and positioned with the Transform tool (T).

A simple backdrop was drawn using the Line tool (L) on the standard Trixels grid (alt+1) to help the title pop.

Additional text was created in Photoshop and saved as a transparent .png file. Hexels allows external graphics to be dragged and dropped onto the canvas. The image is instantly converted to a Pixel Layer and can be resized with the Transform tool (T). Finally, the Marquee Selection tool (S) was used to re-arrange the text elements and a chilli pepper silhouette was created for the Scoville heat rating.

Serrano Limits To Your Imagination

Hexels’ vector based documents allow for exporting at multiple resolutions, making designs scalable for any need. With clever use of grids and effects, Hexels’ distinctive style means artwork can really stand out from the crowd. Create your own designs and illustrations using the Hexels 14 day free trial today.

Hexels Making of: Orbiter 13 Trailer

By Mark Knight

I’m Mark Knight from Marmoset and I have experimented with animation in various mediums for many years. Using animation to accent or embellish previous Hexels creations made me realise that it would be possible to create a short film using Hexels.

(left to right) Trixel layer, pixel layer detail, pixel layer animation.

I began with a simple ‘proof of concept’ test. I created a stylised vehicle with trixel and pixel layers and combined this with a smooth 30 frame character animation.

With positive feedback from my initial test, I decided to develop the idea into a trailer that could be expanded into a short film at a later date.

I developed my test scene further by having the trooper interact with the car door. The door was created with 8 cels of animation on a pixel layer (shown above left). I approximated the shape of the door at 3 key positions: open, halfway and closed. I added the in between steps until I was happy with the motion.

To create the glass, I animated a reflection across the window of the door by painting white streaks on another layer with opacity reduced.

I drew the character animation outline with onion skinning enabled. This allowed me to see a faded representation of the previous and next frames. Onion skinning is really helpful for positioning, perceiving motion and direction.

I coloured my character by using the paint bucket tool to fill in the outlines. Each scene was created as a new document. For continuity purposes, I maintained the palette and brush sizes between each new document via file menu> save as template’.

By using a Transform on the Document Properties layer, it is possible to create camera-like pans and zooms. For the ‘passenger’ scene (above), I used a transform to resize the entire document between frame 1 and 40 combined with an acceleration and deceleration keyframe tween (accessible by right clicking on a keyframe and selecting the tween type).

By using the frame tool with a fixed aspect ratio of 16:9, the exported images will only render whatever is inside the frame boundary.

Hexels allows dragging and dropping of images onto the canvas. For the introduction sequence and the United States capsule decal (above) I created transparent .png image files and lifted them into my scenes.

Another hugely versatile feature in Hexels is the ability to import an animated GIF. I recorded a short sequence on a mobile phone, converted it into .gif format and dragged the file onto my Hexels canvas. The frames of the .GIF were automatically added to the timeline on its own layer. This feature was indispensable when creating the above rotoscope sequence.

Watch ‘Ep 6 of Hexels Adventures’ for a speedpaint showing how I created the trailer and check out other episodes of Hexels Adventures.

Having used the animation system to create parallax animations, rotoscoping, and motion blur effects, I’m excited to see what other artists dream up using Hexels 3.

Hexels Feature Friday | Ep. 108

We’re back brand new edition of Hexels Feature Friday!

  1. Trixel Doggo by etall.
  2. Isometric pixel structure by Michael Myers.
  3. Derp kitty by Jen Maynulet.
  4. Retro workstation by Althea Krebelj.

Start creating your pixel-perfect wonderland with Hexels 3.