Vector Art: There's a duck in my coffee

Posted on 5/10/09

My sister is opening a used book store in Marysville, Washington. I wanted to create her a wall hanging to put up in the store. I suck at photoshop, and I'm not great at using real life mediums, so I decided to go with vector art. The problem with vector art, however, is that it looks like vector art: it has crisp edges, perfectly symmetrical shapes, and even strokes. I wanted this to look like a painting, not something digital. I stayed up until 3am sunday night working on it, and the result was "There's a duck in my coffee."

Coffee Duck

Click the image to zoom

Here's some closeups of the duck's head, along with a highlight of the paths I used to create this with the pen tool. I used adobe fireworks.

Coffee Duck Coffee Duck

Click the images to zoom

I ordered a print of it from a service that does digital to canvas printing. Hopefully it looks nice on paper. The inspiration for this came from one of my favorite artists, Michael Sowa.

If ducks are your thing, check out this drawing I did with prismacolor colored pencils in high school art class.

More stuff I've created


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Due to the high volume of spam and the fact that I barely update this blog anymore, new comments have been permanently disabled.

  • Jen writes on 5/10/09
    Awesome work, Matt! I love it! I'm sure Sierra will treasure it. When does her store open? I wanna come see it (and this).
  • Matthew Inman writes on 5/10/09
    The store is actually already open, but it's a soft launch. The store has lots of good stuff: used books, espresso, wifi, pastries, open mic night, and even psychic readings on friday (i think?) nights. I'm super excited because it's the first brick and mortar business in our family.
    She's doing the full grand opening with press releases in a few weeks, after all the kinks are worked out.
  • nOeL writes on 5/10/09
    I have an appreciation for vector art. Great work!
  • Andrea writes on 5/10/09
    The duck you drew in high school is insane! I would put that on my wall, for sure. (The duck in coffee is nice, too!)
  • relaxdelax writes on 5/10/09
    Wow. I'd buy a tshirt with that. I allways find ducks floating on my morning coffe.
  • Jen writes on 5/10/09
    So awesome!
  • terina writes on 5/10/09
    wow very nice
    well done!
  • Sister writes on 5/10/09
    This is so awesome! It does remind me of my dead duck -- thanks little brother! :)
  • f r writes on 6/10/09
    nice work.
    try this italian vector artist - she applies the traditional painting techniques to vector drawings, and she's been doing it for years, so she's quite good at it.
    it's probably similar to what you were trying to do.
  • DuckFeet writes on 6/10/09
    This person, you should envy...
  • adchick writes on 7/10/09
    Stumbled on your stuff...well done. AFLAC should buy this from you...I smell a TV spot here...
  • Jimmy Pooflinger writes on 5/11/09
    Ping, pong, Puck!
    I See a Duck!
  • Brett writes on 24/11/09
    Which digital to canvas service did you use? When you get your print, can you let me know if you'd recommend them?
  • Khrystah writes on 4/12/09
    *right click set as desktop wallpaper*
    I love it! Hope you don't mind me "borrowing" it to pretty up my desktop. :)
  • Casey writes on 9/12/09
  • Hong writes on 10/12/09
    Wow, amazing work!
  • Kamille writes on 15/12/09
    omg....the colored pencil one is're good in digital AND traditional art...something quite rare nowadays... i salute you!
  • Noah writes on 16/12/09
    Hey, in all honesty, I'd buy a print of that. Is there any way for that to happen?
  • Sierra Godfrey writes on 29/12/09
    Perhaps I am your sister. I might be. How exciting. I've never had a brother!
    Also I love Michael Sowa. For truly.
  • ryan writes on 30/12/09
    you should only ever draw on paper. I think that the computer drawing has made you very lazy. the sloppy drawing may be fun for you, and easy to pull off to go along with your funny writing, but it cheapens your creations.
    the duck seems to be falling backwards in this fireworks creation, by the angle of it's neck. also, the curve of the base of the cup enhances the feeling of everything moving left. the green background is nice, but a bit too bright against the white of the duck.
    that said, I love the absurdity and your shading. I hope my criticism hasn't been too crass, I hope to encourage you since you obviously are quite talented and clever.
  • Jeremiah writes on 31/12/09
    I think your artwork is beautiful exactly the way it is. I love it. Great work, good sir!
  • Danielle writes on 3/1/10
    Your web illustrations are fabulous! You mention you aren't great at Photoshop, which made me curious about what program(s) you work with instead of Photoshop.
  • Kieran writes on 5/1/10
    Greetings from Cork, Ireland.
    Dumb question but if you hate PhotoShop what tool do you use to create your great graphics. I am a beginner PhotoShop person (like it so far) and if there was another option I might look at it.
    And no we don't drink green beer here before you ask but if you...
  • madraven writes on 5/1/10
    I love ducks, coffee and I love vector art too; ergo, I love vector ducks in coffee. It's perfect.
  • Blake writes on 11/1/10
    Waw - I love it...i think its great the way that you still have that slight vector effect, gives it that POP look.
    Can't believe you used fireworks for this..I've long been a fireworks diehard (my colleagues poke mirth at me for this) this what you always use Matthew?
    Just wondering how well it printed? One issue that I have with fireworks is its lack of compatibility for pdf/cmyk - you can't even maintain paths when you shift it to another adobe app - thats due to the weird png vector thang.
    Cheers - love ur work
  • C Fairweather writes on 12/1/10
    I appreciate your work so much. You're very gifted!
    I've had endless laughs at your insight and randomness at theoatmeal, and I've passed it onto all my friends via fb. Once my funds come up (I get paid for web work), I'll be getting your book. Do you have any others?
    It's too bad you're up in Seattle, so far from San Diego. I guess I'll have to settle for buying a cup of coffee from afar.
  • Lisa writes on 31/1/10
    I love your work so much! My friends and I are obsessed with The Oatmeal. Keep it coming and good job! :)
  • Vanessa writes on 1/2/10
    Nicely done! I've always admired your work, and this vector illustration definitely struts your skills. I'd buy this for my pastor friend -he likes ducks more than people!
  • seeanna writes on 2/2/10
    wow, i'm instantly in love you. thanks for making me laugh my ass off :) your design just speaks to me and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. thanks soooo much!!!
  • Piggy writes on 3/2/10
    This is quacktastic!
    I think I've browsed around all of TheOatmeal and today. Fun stuff, lots of it was blocked at work (like all those quizzes, I could answer the questions but my result would be firewalled) but I still enjoyed it. I think the crazy emails was the best, someone is going to get some "fun" emails tonight! ha!
  • Sara Lueders writes on 4/2/10
    You are funny. I have looked at some of your work, and I think you should be writing for one of the late night talk show hosts. Keep making us laugh...thanks for your fun thoughts.
  • Wallace writes on 10/2/10
    It's nice to see someone who does such great work both digitally and in traditional mediums. And creates really awesome images without using Photoshop! I am one of very few in the graphic/digital art classes I take that uses Illustrator to do vector art instead of Photoshop, so your portfolio has actually been quite inspiring to me. Keep it up! :)
  • Brad writes on 10/2/10
    Just found The Oatmeal & and I'm so glad I did! "Special" (read similarly disturbed) people dear to me will be receiving your posters as gifts. Keep it coming!
  • @tiffzny writes on 12/2/10
    You are an incredible artist. FANTASTICO, MATT (if I may call you that), FANTASTICO.
  • Armitage writes on 25/2/10
    I'm not gay, but I want to have sex with you. I don't understand how you make a living doing this! OMG, ugh, please don't stop!
  • Chris writes on 2/3/10
    That is a winner.
  • duck lover writes on 10/3/10
    I also love ducks - they are delicious !!!
  • SuperSemicolon writes on 14/3/10
    Can you sell this picture as a poster in your Oatmeal store? I would love a copy for my dorm room!
  • cheap logo design writes on 20/3/10
    Preety nice...I realy like the way it is design...

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About Matthew

I am no longer updating this blog, but you can follow all of my latest work over at The Oatmeal


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