Click on this image to see it in motion! It’s a GIF!


A Digital Illustration in Motion

Let’s get real and take a moment to recognize that vector graphics are all the rage right now. Most websites are filled with small illustrations, icons, and infographics so I was excited to take on this project and expand my skills. I decided to try a different illustrative style and a GIF – two things that I have learned about but never applied much – to show a few of my own facial expressions.

Starting with Ideas

I started by sketching out some ideas. I knew I wanted to imitate the old-timey style found at the top of this infographic from Solar Life by Goal Zero so I worked on thick lines and simplified features.


Moving to Vectors

After getting the right shape ideas, I started working in Illustrator to make a vector illustration of my face. I used the pen tool and transformed various squares and circles to match my sketch but honestly, my shapes were looking kind of scary. I then realized I needed more references on my canvas. Keeping inspirational pieces next to your artwork is helpful. Here is what my workspace looked like:


(You can see the outlined shape on the bottom left which was abandoned after I realized how scary it looked.) I worked layer by layer on tracing my sketch of the face shape, the eyes, the mouth, the nose, and other details like smile lines, freckles, and eyelashes. Then I used the pen tool to mimic the shape of my hair and add highlights. After completing the first facial expression, I duplicated the art board and experimented with other expressions. My roommates probably think I’m crazy now because I spent a while winking or smiling at nothing in order to understand the shapes my expressions were making.

Lastly, I made the little banner on the bottom and chose my color scheme. I chose bright happy colors because the feel of this piece is very whimsical and silly. I also chose a handwritten script font because once again, the piece is lighthearted and fun.

The Final Results

I finished with these three facial expressions:


Then I brought each separate image into Photoshop and used the layers to make a GIF.

In the end I think I finished with a fun yet professional image. One of my roommates even asked me if I could make her face into a digital illustration!

Rachel Redford

Rachel Redford

Rachel is a Visual Communication Specialist with a love for photography and design. At any given time you will find her with Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign open and a back of chocolate-covered pretzels on her desk. See her work at rachelredford.com
Rachel Redford

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