by Sharon Milne


February 26, 2012

Vector Art from France


In today’s “Vector Art from…” article, we’re looking at vector art from France with Adobe Illustrator users Nastasia Peters and Dhella Rouat, two talented female illustrators. We’ll learn more about the artists behind the work and their processes, and, in addition, Nastasia has shared some great insight into the process for creating one of her fantasy inspired pieces that is line art oriented. So let’s get to it and meet the girls.

Dhella Rouat aka Zhaana

Dhella’s work has strong fantasy elements and themes, ranging from graceful girls to Alphonse Mucha-inspired portraits and scenes. She’s self-taught and always pushes herself to create more detailed and fantastic pieces with strong female characters. I’ve admired her work for a long time now and it’s a pleasure to introduce you to her and her work.

Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Inside Adobe Illustrator?

My name is Dhella Rouat, I’m 26. I’m also known in artistic field as Zhaana. I was born in Brittany, France, and moved a lot with my parents. I lived in many places, even in Quebec, but I was in Paris for the last three years before I moved to the Alps a few months ago. I couldn’t find work in the art field so I started to work as a medical secretary instead, which I still am. Nonetheless I keep enjoying making vector pictures in my spare time.

How did you first get into vector art? How did you learn about Adobe Illustrator?

I graduated in literature with a specialization in art. My brother is a graphic artist, so I was introduced to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator software. Self-taught, I started to use Illustrator around 2005-2006. I noticed the Pen tool was easier to use than the graphic tablet my brother had. I learned by myself how to handle the Bezier curves… back then I used a the Pen tool a lot!

Next, I started with tutorials grabbed from around the web, like artist blogs or Vectortuts+), and learned techniques, shortcuts and how to use tools I didn’t know before. That allowed me to improve my skills and be at ease with Illustrator, though I’m still learning; it’s endless.

Q: What is your process in creating a piece of vector art?

Usually I start with some ideas that come from the music I listen or things I read. Then I collect references, such as stock photography, and research periods of time in history, clothing, etc. I never start drawing a sketch the usual way. Actually, I’m not a traditional artist; I like the digital way much better.

Therefore, I digitally sketch a rough composition in Illustrator with the Paintbrush or Pencil tools over the stock image. And when I use a stock image, it’s always as a reference, for a pose, for example. After that I try to get rid of it and give free rein to my creativity.

When I;m satisfied enough with the overall result, I start the line art, and then fill it with basic colors. Finally I add the lighting, shadows and effects or details. I tend to always use the Pen and Gradient tools now that one can adjust a gradient’s opacity. It’s a useful tool for anything.

Q: How do you keep up to date with the latest trends and styles in vector art?

I’m a member of deviantART and that’s where I spend most of my time looking at vector art and for inspiration or a technique someone used. I also visit the website Vectortuts+ when I need more explanation or when I don’t know how to make a specific effect. I also am a vector group collaborator on deviantART, so I’m always surrounded by vector art.

Q: Who do you admire in the French vector art community? Which artists do you recommend others to check out who are from France?

If you have some time, you may visit some French vector artists of whom I admire the style: Thegu75 and Morlock22.

Connect with Dhello Rouat via:

Nastasia Peters aka Ssst

I’ve always been amazed at the concepts and illustrations of Nastasia Peters. As a close friend of hers, I’ve been given great insight into the reasons behind her work and her processes. Her work varies from personal projects (Vectoria – a Vector domain filled with characters who are fighting the Raster) to computer fan art, to elaborate fantasy illustrations. Today she shares with us how she creates her unique line art, created solely with the Pencil tool in Illustrator and how she goes on to color her art.

Q: Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Inside Adobe Illustrator.

Hi! My name is Nastasia Peters, I’m 22 years old, half Dutch, half French. I currently reside in Bretagne, France and work as a silver server in a traditional restaurant. For fun, I draw a lot, write even more, and when I don’t want to do either of those things, I’ll be reading.

Q: How did you first get into vector art? How did you learn about Adobe Illustrator?

My introduction to vector art was nearly eight years ago. I was drawing traditionally at the time, all the while wanting to start coloring digitally, so my mother showed me Illustrator, hoping I’d have fun with it.

I didn’t use tutorials, but my parents and friends have taught me a trick or two in the program! Experimenting blindly is one of my favorite learning processes. I like to open up a blank canvas and then click on random buttons to see what they do. While I definitely don’t use all that Illutrator has to offer, I’m pretty sure I’ve tested most of it.

Q: What is your process in creating a piece of vector art?

I use stock imagery for reference, and tend to manipulate the hell out of them in Photoshop until I’m satisfied with the rather sloppy result. From there on I make a sketch, still in Photoshop, and then import it into Illustrator where I can then start the line art, followed up with colors. My main tool in Illustrator is the Pencil tool, other favorites are the Blend, Paintbrush and Scissors tools.

Q: How do you keep up to date with the latest trends and styles in vector art?

I’ve never managed to keep up with clothes and hair fashions, and the same applies to vector art. I’m very much living in my own little bubble.

But I do have some wonderful friends I met through the vector community. I’ll link to their deviantART pages; Brgtt, Pica-ae, ChewedKandi, Lilvdzwan, DanHeffer Stock, Pixelledanddead, DomiSM and there are so many other great vector artists out there!

Q: Who do you admire in the French vector art community? Which artists do you recommend others to check out who are from France?

I don’t know that many from France, actually. But if there’s one I do know is from this country and whom I admire greatly, it’s Dismecha. His art is incredible.

The Making of Rapunzel

After having found the stock images, I manipulate them into the position I want them to be in Photoshop. I also sketch my reference there, and once done, I load it into illustrator to begin the line art. The Pencil tool is my absolute favorite tool in all of Illustrator, and that is what I use to create my line art. I use the line option rather than the fill, naturally, but when it comes to facial features I switch to fill and draw them out with shapes rather than lines. It allows for more detail.

Once I’m done, I usually think the work looks very empty and flat, so I make my lines (Pencil tool still) thinner in width, and then start adding texture to the base line art to make it, well, less empty and flat.

And now you can see the fancy object in the form of line art that the character is sitting on. While the “seat” is important, I tend not to bother with thinner lines for added detail, as it’s not the main focus. Although, sometimes it still gives me that sense of flatness, but instead of adding more, I select the line art itself and thicken its width to make it stand out more.

And there’s the frame! The line art is now complete.

Okay, so I know this looks really weird and sort of ghost like, but it’s all good! Here I still use the Pencil tool, but no longer with lines, only shapes to shade my drawing. Now, I always put the base colors in first and then start shaping the shades and highlights over it, but I masked the base colors in this shot so what I’m explaining is visible. I have three separate layers with three different levels of transparencies (black), worked on top of one another to create the shade. Sometimes I use black and white gradients as well to deepen the look, and as visible, some pink on several areas of the body as well to highlight those parts. Those are made with blends, as are the soft yellow lined highlights. While the pink blends were made with as base the circle shape, I created a brush for the yellow ones.
After having created the desired shape of the yellow blend, I turned it into a brush and then knocked myself out. Another thing I uses brushes for is the skin texture. I love the look of vector, but as it is so clean, sometimes I feel skin ends up looking like plastic, this being why I add a dotted pattern on the skin areas, lowering it’s level of opacity and setting it on multiply so it blends in well with the shades I drew out earlier. There’s also a lot of fun default patterns in Illustrator’s libraries, one of which I used on her skirt.

And there are the base colors! Now, I could have shaped the base colors in with the Pencil Tool as I do my shades, but it’s a tad overkill, this being where I use the Live Paint option. I duplicate my line art layer, place it underneath, turn it into a Live Paint, toss out the line art in the Live Paint and then use the Live Paint Bucket to fill in my base colors underneath the line art layer.

Connect with Nastasia Peters via:


I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s article with the talented Dhella and Nastasia from France. Their work is incredibly inspiring and worth checking out their portfolios for more of their work.


  • By John T - 6:46 PM on February 27, 2012  

    Always nice to see how people work. Quite often find that with some projects, especially those that you are not used to working on (People rather than structures sort of thing), it can be a big hard to get started and be sure of the foundations you have laid. Nice to see the different ways of doing it, occasionally find a slightly different way of doing things that you are comfortable with. Great interview!

  • By Rie - 6:48 PM on February 27, 2012  

    Ah…superb and mind blowing artwork! Especially I really like the art-nouveu style ones! It’s like combining between digital &modern art and vintage art .

  • By iwan rekarupa - 7:43 PM on February 27, 2012  

    it’s quite exciting

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