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25+ Illustrator Tutorials for Creating Vintage Graphics and Retro Illustration

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If you’re looking to improve your vector design skills, learn how to use Illustrator on a deeper level, and discover how to create vintage vector graphics, then you've landed on the right article. We've assembled a collection of tutorials that show you how to create vintage illustrations, and retro graphics using Illustrator effects and a variety of professional workflows.

These tutorials will teach you how to create retro characters, add a vintage textural look to your vector work, combine text with graphics for timeless vintage branding, make retro design items to add to your portfolio, such as 50's era posters, and more. Build your vector vintage design skills with this collection of tutorials that will help you build up your portfolio with custom, retro style work.


Retro Graphics and Vintage Illustration

Create Retro Graphics in Illustrator

In this beginner retro design tutorial learn how to combine woodgrain and halftone textures with basic shapes in Illustrator to compose a vintage vector graphic illustration. Ryan Brinkerhoff shows you how, step by step in this tutorial over on Computer Arts. If you're just getting started with vintage vector artwork, then jump over to this tutorial to begin.

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Vintage Vector Textures

In this tutorial you'll learn how to give your illustrations a handprinted, misaligned feel so common in 50s and 60s animation and illustration. Ben Steers shows us how to start with a solid sketch, then build our basic vector shapes, and then walks us through how to create wonderful vintage vector art textures in Illustrator.

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Creating the New Retro

Graphic designer James White shows you how to give retro-style graphics a modern feel, mixing graphic aesthetics from the days of early Nintendo and late Atari, and a workflow that blends Illustrator and Photoshop tools. This retro future, funky rainbow ribbon starts as shapes in Illustrator and then is composed and shaded in Photoshop. Learn all about this vintage vector to pixel workflow in this tutorial.

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Create Retro-Look Vectors

In this illustration tutorial James Wignall, AKA Mutanthands, shows how to take your sketch into illustrator to color and then give it a vintage graphic feel in Photoshop with simple effects. This tutorial is great for beginners, as it's easy to follow, but the creation of this style of vintage vector art is deceptively complex to hit the right balance of interesting and stark visual appeal. Learn to craft your own retro vintage illustrations from sketch pad doodles.

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Illustrator Tutorial: Design Retro Isometric Illustrations

Mark Oliver shows us how to create imaginative illustrations with depth using an angled grid. Follow his recipe for transforming shapes to fit a predefined isometric projection Learn to compose vintage graphic gears, panels, and other retro vector elements to bring together a classic composition. He finalizes the retro touch by bringing those vintage vectors into Photoshop to roughen them up a bit.

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How to Create a Colorful Retro Style TV

In this intermediate Illustrator tutorial, learn how to create retro graphics using gradients and layers. You'll also walk through how to create a simple background that gives this vintage graphic a modern style. This retro illustration is fun to create and full of vibrancy.

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Illustrator Tutorial: How To Make 3D Vector Vintage Stars

Learn how to create vintage looking 3D stars in Illustrator. The final result is completely vintage vector art, with no raster effects used in the final retro graphic. Learn how to create a dimensional star using Illustrator's 3D tools and then move through a solid workflow to color and craft each shape of this. In the end you'll be able to make your own retro graphic stars in Illustrator.

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Retro Car Vectors

Learn how to draw a retro illustration in Illustrator using vector brushes and a solid workflow, which uses a photograph as the basis for creating a vintage style artwork. Using vector brushes you can add loads of style, such as paint splatters, vary the vector linework, and layer the coloring. This is a versatile workflow to use for creating retro vector illustrations with loads of detail and personality.

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Swingin' Retro Look in Adobe Illustrator

In this basic tutorial learn how to construct funky retro shapes and lines to compose a vector illustration in Illustrator. This tutorial is great for beginning Illustrator users. Learn how to use shape tools to build simple retro graphics, turn them into symbols, and then spray them across your canvas to create a vibrant feel.

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Turning a Photo into Lichtenstein Style Pop Art with Illustrator

Learn how to create a retro illustration from a photo. The style you'll achieve is similar to Roy Lichtenstein's pop art comic book artwork. Using Illustrator's custom brushes and swatches, you can craft a Lichtenstein style of effect in this intermediate level tutorial. Give your vector work a stylized, illustrator vintage effect.

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How to Create Vintage Vector Bottle Caps In Illustrator CS4

In this Illustrator CS4 tutorial learn how to create a vintage bottle cap graphic. Learn how to use basic shapes, pathfinder tools, gradients, blends, and effects to create this retro design element. With this workflow you can create a vintage bottle cap that fits the retro design you need, give it the name of the company you are promoting, and use it in an advertisement.

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How To Trace a Sketch with a Vintage Comic Style

Add another retro illustration style to your portfolio. Learn how to create a vintage style comic illustration in this Adobe Illustrator CS4 tutorial. This style is used expansively, from vintage newspaper ads, to retro magazine promotions.

In this tutorial you will learn several techniques for tracing a sketch, including how to make custom brushes, how to combine shapes and brushes and how to combine multiple brushes. You will also learn how to simulate shadows with a hatching technique.

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Design a Vintage Nintendo-Style Controller and Cartridge

This retro illustration brings me back to my youth. I spent way too much time playing Mario, Zelda, and all sorts of games on the Nintendo. Learn how to create a vintage graphic illustration based on this classic console system. This tutorial is perfect for the beginning Illustrator artist who wants to take their skills to the next level. Step up your retro graphic game skills.

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How to Create a Vector Stamp Set in Illustrator

In the following intermediate level tutorial you will learn how to create a vintage graphic of a vector stamp set in Adobe Illustrator CS5. Learn how to build a retro graphic stamp illustration, shape by shape.

We'll construct the stamp border vector shape, highlight the edges, create the branding, and give the vector postage stamp a vintage texture, and final illustrator stamp effect. Discover how to design this vintage vector stamp in Illustrator and then transform this into a vector stamp set.

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Quick Tip: How to Create an Ornament Illustration for a Holiday Sale

In this beginner Illustrator tutorial learn how to create a modern ornament graphics with vintage flair. Use basic tools in Illustrator to create the shapes, composing your main ornament and ribbon, place your font, and then use an Arch Warp to give your message dynamic appeal. You can add vintage graphic textures and color according to your project's needs.

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Retro Logos and Vintage Branding

Vintage Badge in Illustrator and Photoshop

In this tutorial from Abduzeedo learn how to create a vintage looking graphic using Illustrator and Photoshop. Using basic shape building tools and type on a path, you can create the basic composition for this vintage illustrator work. Then jump into Photoshop to add texture to give it a vintage graphic feel.

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Quick Tip: How to Create a Retro Style Textured Logo

Learn how to create a retro vector seal logo in Adobe Illustrator using simple shapes, effects, transparency masks, and a free grunge texture pack. Give your next logo design project a vintage vector feel. Discover how to stylize a logo design in classic retro vector style.

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How To Create a Retro Badge/Emblem Style Logo

Learn how to create a circular, retro design style badge/emblem in Illustrator, with a bit of final vintage touches in Photoshop. All the basic shapes are created in Illustrator using simple tools, also learn how to set type on a path, and control how that type flows. This is a great tutorial for design beginners to get started with.

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Making a Retro/Vintage Style Badge

In this tutorial you'll learn how to create a vintage graphic badge that you can use to brand your next project. Discover how to use Illustrator's Warp, Pathfinder, and Offset Path tools. Walk through each step of modifying and coloring basic Illustrator shapes, and work in the text message. The final vintage vector is finished off in Photoshop with some rough textures to give it that aged retro design feeling.

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Vintage Design and Retro Layout

Create a Vintage, 50's Style Auto Advertisement

In this Tuts+ Premium tutorial Ben Mounsey takes a brief look at the quintessential aspects of 1950′s automotive advertising, the aesthetics of the cars and the portrayal of their owners. He shows us how to take this inspiration and create a vintage vector style illustration that embodies the spirit of the bold 50′s auto ads. Learn how to transform simple sketches into bold vector linework, add dotted, rough and swirling textures to add shading with retro graphic interest and more.

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Create a Retro Style, Airline Destination, Travel Poster

In this Premium Tuts+ tutorial Ben Mounsey shows us more inspirational 1950's retro influence, this time in the travel tourism field. Learn how to take vintage inspiration from these posters, such as typographic and composition qualities, then to sketch and create your own vintage vector poster. Use Illustrator's Blob Brush Tool to draw the retro lettering and create most of the retro graphic elements with the Pen Tool, based on your initial research and drawings.

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Creating a Vintage Ski Poster Design with Illustrator CS4

Neal McCullough shows us how to create a vintage vector ski poster. He starts with a rough pencil sketch and then shows us how to first create the background in Illustrator and build the retro artwork style up from back to front. Each section concentrates on a different area of the poster.

Learn how to draw and color our character, including reflection in the sunglasses, and how to shade our main "Ski" type. Discover tips along the way, such as how to add a little Art Deco glamour to your illustrations by making subtle use of the Gradient and Transparency palettes in Illustrator CS4, as well as introducing an aged paper feel with clever use of texture resource files.

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How to Make a Retro RC Airplane Poster

In this intermediate retro design Illustrator tutorial learn how to take inspiration from the vintage toys around us. In this case, learn to draw a vintage vector remote control airplane. It takes quite a bit of work with the Pen Tool so make sure you’re familiar with it before beginning. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner though, this tut is not too difficult.

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Create a Vintage Art Deco Poster with Illustrator's Grain Effect

Taking inspiration from A. M. Cassandre and posters from the Art Deco movement learn how to recreate vintage pint techniques with Illustrator tools. In this tutorial you'll first craft a retro poster design using simple shapes, and then you'll discover how to create a grainy texture which can be used to shade objects.

You can see a similar approach explained in the tutorial by Ryan Putnam over on Vectips on Grainy Textures in Illustrator. You can see this kind of workflow applied to other retro graphic illustrations, like icons and vintage characters.

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Design a Vintage Poster with Vector Pack 16

In this entry level graphic design tutorial, learn how to take quality, stock vector graphics and compose them into a retro poster design. Learn vintage design and compositional tips along the way.

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Create a Retro Style Poster with Shapes, Patterns, and Eagles

This is a great tutorial for beginner Adobe Illustrator artists. Learn how to create a retro styled poster using basic shapes, photograph tracing with the Pen tool, and some path work with Pathfinder tools. You'll also learn the advantages of the Appearance Palette, create a vintage art pattern, and have some fun with applying multiple strokes to objects.

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