by Sharon Milne


April 13, 2012

Vector Art from Mexico


Today is the third part in our series of Vector Art from around the world, and we’re focusing in on Mexico. I’d like to introduce you to two friends, Rafael Aguilar and Beto Garza. Both have an abstract and somewhat surreal edge, yet their rendering techniques are different. They are both passionate vector artists and fellow fans of Adobe Illustrator.

In addition to getting to know them better and featuring their work, we’ll also gain unique insight into the detailed workings and processes behind Rafael’s work, as he’s kindly shared with us some work-in-progress screenshots!

Beto Garza aka Helbetico

Beto Garza uses simple, minimal palettes to create his vector work. Using geometric shapes and patterns, his work has a childlike, playful edge, yet still maintains a sophisticated, abstract look. This is partly due to the shapes and minimal palettes he uses, and he pulls it off very well.

Please introduce yourself to the readers of Inside Adobe Illustrator.

My name is Beto Garza “Helbetico.” I am from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, but I currently live in Saltillo, Coahuila, where I work as an illustrator and graphic designer at Grupo W.

In addition to drawing, I enjoy playing video games, basketball and reading comics.

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

At first I used to draw in FreeHand MX, but when I got my first job as an Illustrator in an agency in Monterrey, Mexico, back in 2004, I realized Adobe Illustrator had more tools and a better interface; I just simply loved it. I became more skilled thanks to the advice of more experienced illustrators, exploring tutorials on the web, and watching video tutorials on YouTube. In addition, one book that really helped me to improve my technique was The Adobe Illustrator CS3 WOW! book.

In my drawings, there’s always one thing present, geometry: squares, circles, stars, lines, everything. I prefer to do this style with vectors because these lines are very difficult to produce by hand.

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

I usually do some quick sketches for composition, trying different figures that I want to use in the final illustration. With a scanned image of this drawing, I start doing another sketch in Illustrator, but this time with shapes, to check the balance between all the elements that will be in the final composition. Sometimes I start with just a small pencil sketch; I go directly to the computer and begin just by looking at the drawing.

The tools that I use the most are the Shape tools, Pathfinder, Align, and also working with Crops, Unions and others. I also use the Eraser Tool a lot: especially when pressing the Alt key to erase in straight lines. In addition, I often use the Scale and Rotate tools to grab nodes separately from the rest of the figure and modify them.

Lately, since CS4, I’ve been using Blob Brush tool a good bit. It’s really a great addition to the program, because I can create cool shapes with it using a pressure-sensitive tablet.

In my style I like to use pure color values, rather than gradients. I like how colors looks in their pure state, but hey, that’s a personal taste.

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

I visit certain sites like Drawn, Illustrationmundo, and also browsing deviantART. I have some friends and teachers in illustration, such as Luis Vazquez, Christopher Cisneros “Choper Nawers” and Rafael Aguilar “Rafahu.” I highly recommend their work, they are very good!

Q: Who do you admire in the Mexican vector art community? Which artists from Mexico do you recommend others to check out?

I really like the work of Mr. Kone, Luis Vazquez, Federico Jordan, Choper Nawers, and Rafuhu. They all are good friends and excellent illustrators.

Connect with Beto Garza via:

Rafael Aguilar aka Rafahu

I first came across Rafael’s work when seeing Disharmony Chords” for the first time — and my mind was blown. The sheer level of detailing and the way he pushes the vector medium is inspiring. Not only are his techniques flawless, but the subjects of his illustrations are twisted, surreal and abstract, giving him an original edge in our vector community. He was more than happy to share with us some insights into his workflow and tell us more about Rafahu the artist and his vector creations.

Please introduce yourself to the readers of Inside Adobe Illustrator.

My name is Rafael Aguilar “Rafahu.” I’m an animator, illustrator and designer from México City. I am interactive director at Grupo W. I love to paint and draw everything I see in my mind. I love science fiction and music. I haven’t released the stylus for drawing everything since I was a kid. I love coffee and staying up late creating my own worlds.

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

I started using Illustrator in college for a class on logo design. As my passion has always been drawing, I started scanning my drawings and experimenting with them. I was always fascinated by the art of Gustave Doré, and I realized that I could emulate the techniques of engraving with vector graphics.

I started using only the Pen tool, but then I discovered brushes and gradients, and as a child I started to play with them.

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

When I start a picture, my first concern is the concept: the idea, the story that I want the picture to have. The next step is the sketch.

I try to research the subject I’m illustrating. If the piece focuses on a train terminal, I investigate how the trains were at that time. I take a look at photos about them. If the artwork has a surreal theme, I turn to my nightmares :).

The main tools of Illustrator that I use are gradients…

…the Pen tool, and customized Art Brushes.

My process for creating with brushes:

I like the feeling of “painting” in the software. I am currently experimenting with Gradient Mesh.

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

I continually visit sites such as Behance, deviantART and Illustration Mundo to stay informed about the latest trends in illustration. I belong to several illustration groups, including Society of Illustrators on Facebook and Illustration Now on Behance.

I maintain a ongoing relationship with other Mexican illustrators, including Golpeavisa, Mr. Kone, and Choper Nawers to keep my ideas fresh.

Q: Who do you admire in the Mexican vector art community? Which artists from Mexicodo you recommend others to check out?

Mr. Kone, Golpeavisa, Netoplasma and Lerms, Choper Nawers, Anibal Pantoja, El Thonder.

Connect with Rafael Aquilar via:


I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s article with the talented Beto and Rafael from Mexico. Their work is incredibly inspiring.Be sure to check out their portfolios to see  more of their work.


  • By adrian gray - 5:10 AM on April 13, 2012  

    Really nice article! Thanks for introducting me to Rafael Aguilar, love, love, his work! Reminds me of some work in a magazine I got a year ago. I’d assumed they were awesome linocut prints, but now I have to go back and look at them again!

  • By Traceland Vectorie - 10:22 PM on April 13, 2012  

    You guys rocks!!! seriously! love the surrealism concept and the “vectormanship” ! three of em all wicked!

    and also greetings from Indonesian Vektor Fighter!

  • By ianvox - 1:34 AM on April 14, 2012  

    great article

  • By Javier mateos - 6:49 AM on April 14, 2012  

    Amazing article! Congratulations to both of them. 🙂

  • By Eva Lobatón - 10:46 AM on April 21, 2012  

    ¡Congratulations! Both, for the article and for the excellent work. You put the name of mexican illustrators really high. Beto: I´m your biggest fan.

  • By Shaun - 7:30 PM on September 8, 2012  

    Been a long time since one of these came out… Really like them. Hoping you’ll do another vector artists from around the world post soon.

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