As a designer, I believe it is important to share your process and I don't think we do this enough. So here goes nothing. Here's a glimpse into my illustration process through the use of vectors.
Step 1: Sketching the Initial Design
Most of the time, I flip through my sketchbook and look for drawings that I would like to see as vector graphics. Vector graphics is "the use of...points, lines, curves, and shapes (or polygons)—all of which are based on mathematical expressions—to represent images in computer graphics."
Step 2: Vectoring the Outlines
After scanning my drawing into the computer, I open the drawing in a vectoring program called Adobe Illustrator. I work in layers to build up my vector. The bottom layer is my drawing to be traced. I start tracing larger shapes (such as the face and hair) of the drawing in my second layer. In the third layer, I trace the smaller shapes in my drawing such as eyes and eyebrows. I trace finer details (such as the lines that create the illusion of a braid) in my fourth layer. Nothing should be colored at this point.
Step 3: Varying Line Weight & Style
Sometimes having uniform lines are boring. Lines can help create weight to the piece. So, as an example, I'll try a thicker line for the thick braid, but thinner lines for the strands of hair and gold plated jewelry. See and feel the difference?
Step 4: Establishing a Color Scheme
When filling in shapes with color, I try to establish a color palette. If I'm stuck, I use Adobe Color CC, a site where you can create your own color schemes or browse through thousands of color combinations created and uploaded by other artists. Sometimes I choose two or three schemes to mix and match. Not only do I play with the color of the shapes, but the color of the lines as well. A lighter shade of green for the strands of the hair create a depth that harsh black lines would flatten.
Step 5: Adding the Details
I have the most fun adding the details. Details include shadows and highlights to create depth. I chose to lean more towards a flat design (meaning a minimalist design lacking elements that suggest three dimensions) with bold graphic lines. Yet, I still wanted to add basic shadows on the face as well as highlights on the gold. To tie everything together, I chose to set the design on a dark blue circle to contrast against the bright color scheme.
And that, folks, is how I like to vector.