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How to make semi-realistic faces via gradient / gaussian blur shading for pure vector art?

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I generally use Affinity Designer for producing simple icons as a pay-once alternative to Adobe Illustrator. After getting pretty ok at doing so, I want to branch out and start making digital art. I have learned mostly just by fiddling and listening to some youtube channels, but also asking others who make digital art. Most of whom use pixel tools to produce the semi-realistic shading and effects. After trying that (and getting some ok results for my first attempt - first image) I wanted to try just making pure vector art using gradient shading / layered gaussian blurs (second image). Neither of these images are particularly good, or complete, but ok enough to encourage me to try and improve.  Also the pixel method result in like 1000 layers of small pixel elements with multiple layer effect and small amounts of transparency, whereas the vector version was quicker.


So I am asking if someone could help with figuring out how to make a decent human face using only vector tools.  I know  (heard from others) that lips and eyes can be pretty hard and that generally one should learn how to draw first - prior to trying to shade digitally ( to better understand lighting and such).


I ask specifically about vector tools because often the crisp nature of vector elements often look specifically out of place.

I can post a layer by layer (only 23 so far) for the vector face to better document how I worked up to where it is.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 7.11.19 PM.png

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 7.14.24 PM.png

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