Step by Step: Using the Vector Packs

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Step by Step - using Go Media's Vector Packs

We get quite a few people calling every day with trouble opening or using our Vector Packs. I decided to write a tutorial specifically to help out newbies who aren’t exactly sure what they’ve just purchased. It’s amazing to know that people who aren’t designers or even own a piece of design software are buying our vector packs. I never would have expected that. This tutorial is essentially a beginner’s guide to our Vector Packs.

You will learn:
- What are vectors?
- How to open the files
- How to select and use the specific pieces you want
- Adding them to your exisiting design
- Finishing it up

Introduction: What are Vectors?

Before we start, let me explain what Vector means. From the Wikipedia:

“Vector graphics (also called geometric modeling or object-oriented graphics) is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and polygons, which are all based upon mathematical equations to represent images in computer graphics. It is used in contrast to the term raster graphics, which is the representation of images as a collection of pixels, and used as the sole graphic type for actual photographic images.”

Basically, a vector image can be scaled infinitely to any size. It can be enlarged to put on a billboard or the side of a building. It can be used on apparel and even on the web. Raster images (such as jpg, gif, tif, etc) cannot be enlarged without losing quality. So when buying design elements, you want the most versatile elements that can suit any application. Vector graphics are the way to go because they can customized however you like. That’s why we call them Vector Packs!

What’s the purpose of the Vector Packs?
The main purpose of the vector packs is to have a library or archive of commonly used vector elements that you can quickly access and implement into your designs. These are especially helpful if you are on a tight deadline and need to quickly add some flair or artistic elements. Some people buy them and simply use ONLY elements from different packs to create artwork that they never would have imagined they could create beforehand.

1) Opening your Vector Packs

When you first download our vector packs, you’ll either be downloading a big zip file (a complete set) or an EPS. An EPS file actually means Encapsulated Post Script. I could go into a lot of technical jargon (which I actually don’t know by the way) but I’ll just say this: It’s a file that can be opened in vector editing software or rasterized at any resolution in Photoshop (not recommended for our Vector Packs because the files are too large and it’s not optimal). If you download a ZIP file, you must first unzip it. We’ve had some people try to open the ZIP file in Illustrator, which I’m afraid to say will not work. To unzip the file, you can use the free utility 7-Zip. After you unzip the file, you’ll see the EPS files.

So how do you open the EPS file? What software will open it? We use Adobe Illustrator CS3. We recommend using any version of Illustrator newer than version 10. If you have a really old version of Illustrator, chances are that it won’t work and we suggest you upgrade. You can also open these files with Corel Draw or Macromedia Freehand. But since we aren’t actively creating our artwork in those programs, we cannot guarantee perfect compatibility. We use Adobe Illustrator and that’s your BEST BET when working with vector graphics. The concept is the same throughout, but there may be differences in other software applications.

2) Open your vector editing software (Adobe Illustrator)

Adobe Illustrator

If you already have an illustration or design you are working on, open that up if it’s not already. Ideally, these vector pack elements are made to “enhance” your already existing designs. You can certainly make your own design out of nothing but Vector Pack elements, but we will use an existing illustration that our designer Dave did:

Original Illustration:
Dave's original illustration

Now we want to add some cool “accents” in the background. I’m going to look into the “Ornate Pack” from Set 7 and see what I can find. I think they’ll compliment this existing illustration quite well. I already have my centerpiece, I just need to “fill it out” so to speak.

2) Select File > Open

File Open

3) Pick the EPS file you want to use (ornate.eps)

Select your EPS file

While opening the EPS file, Illustrator might warn you about text that was created in a previous version of Illustrator. In this case, just click the button that says “update.” And if you’re missing fonts, it doesn’t matter in this case because any text in our vector packs can be substituted with the default font. It’s ok. So while you have it open, choose the piece you think will work with your design the best:

4) Choose your piece

Ornate chosen

I chose the one that reminds me of seaweed or some underwater plant thing. The theme of the illustration happens to be a girl with octopus tentacles wrapped around her, so I think it will fit well. After you’ve selected your piece by clicking on it, just press Ctrl+C to copy it. Now go back into your original design.

5) Go back to your original design and paste the piece in

vector pack pasted

I liked how they were fitting in, but I thought it needs something more. I went to our trusty “Radials” pack from Set 6 which I know I can always throw behind a centerpiece illustration like this and it will funnel the attention to the center of the image.

6) Open up another Vector Pack and grab some more elements

Open radial vector pack

Once you have it open, have a look around and decide which piece would work best for you. Select it and edit>copy or press Ctrl+C to copy it. I chose the following traditional radial because it accomplishes my goal of “funneling” the attention to my centerpiece. Almost always, radials can be used for this purpose as additional “filler” behind your design.

Select which radial vector you want to use

7) Add some more elements and arrange them how you like.

Added radials and other elements

I went back to my design and pasted the radials and sent it to the back. I also gave it an “overlay” blending mode. Just do your typical tweaking to suit your own needs. I also added some bubbles to complete the “underwater” theme.

You’re Done!

That’s all that’s needed to get the Vector Packs opened and implemented into your designs. There are tons of things you can do with them, but I wanted to give beginners a head start and hopefully this can help solve some of the common problems people are having. Most of the problems are caused because the person doesn’t have any design software on the computer and are confused thinking that when they buy the Vector Packs, they can just run an installer and start magically creating designs out of nowhere. This tutorial should at least get those completely oblivious on the same page as the rest of us!

Final image with Vector Packs

About the Author, Jeff Finley

I'm a partner at Go Media, a Cleveland web design and development firm. We also specialize in print design and branding. I started Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and wrote the book Thread's Not Dead, teaching artists and designers how to start a clothing company. In my spare time, I write songs and play drums in Campfire Conspiracy. I'm a happy husband and an aspiring b-boy and lucid dreamer.

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