How I do it: polygon vector illustrations

I am always on the lookout for new graphic design and/or illustration techniques to learn.  Every once in a while a style or aesthetic comes along that knocks me off my feet and with that said, polygon illustration has sucked me in – big time.  I have found that this technique works extremely well with portraits only – so that is what I will focus on in this blog.

Like anything, learning and perfecting this new technique can be a little intimidating but if you stick with it and mess around enough you will have what I call “ah-ha!” moments.  (These are moments of clarity that happen during the creative process that make everything fall into place.)  Now, without further ado…here is how I learned and applied this to my illustration/graphic work.


First some math: this is a triangle.

This shape is the central graphical element for all of my polygon illustrations – every single shape or plane that I work with is in fact just a triangle.  The key is make the triangle points come together, so that they create planes and the illusion of depth.  I always start by putting a portrait photo or sketch as the bottom layer in adobe illustrator, lock that layer down, and then put a tracing layer on top – this is where I build the matrix of triangles (or polygons).  I always start my triangles with a white fill and red stroke, both at 50% opacity so that I can see what I am building over.  I then start turning the triangles into planes, with shape and depth.




I have struggled with where the art begins and ends with this type of technique though – because there is an element of tracing involved in the process.   I suppose that the creativity comes with the size and frequency of the polygons, and then any other illustrative elements that may get added to the graphic.  The smaller the triangle, the more detail you will expose and create.   The larger the triangle, the more abstract the image becomes.  Anyway, CLICK HERE to see the polygon illustration work that I have done over the past few months.  Enjoy!

Leave a comment