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Create a Vintage Notebook Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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In the following steps you will learn how to create a vintage notebook illustration in Adobe Illustrator.

and using a bunch of effects along with some basic blending techniques you will learn how to add shading and highlights for the shapes that make up the pages. Moving on you will learn how to create the rings, the page holes and the line guides using basic vector shape building techniques along with the Transform and the Warp effects. Finally, you will learn some basic masking techniques and how to add subtle textures using built-in art brushes or patterns.

1. Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 705 in the width box and 585 in the height box then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For starters you will need a grid every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

2. Create the Cover and the Pages

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke then select the fill and set its color at R=194 G=181 B=155. Move to your Artboard and simply create a 415 x 285px rectangle, the Snap to Grid should ease your work. Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers), double-click on the existing shape and simply rename it "cover".

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 195 x 275px shape, set the fill color at R=249 G=242 B=213 and place it as shown in the first image.

Next, you'll need the Round Any Corner script. You can find it in this vector section of Tuts+ article 20 Free and Useful Adobe Illustrator Scripts. Save it to your hard drive, return to Illustrator and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the two anchor points highlighted in the first image and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 10px radius and click OK. In the end your shape should look like in the second image. Move to the Layers panel, double-click on this new shape and rename it "pageRight".

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 3

Make sure that your "pageRight" shape stays selected, open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and simply click on the gradient thumbnail to add the default black to white linear gradient.

Keep focusing on your Gradient panel, set the Angle at 90 degrees then move to the gradient colors. Select the right slider and set the color at R=255 G=255 B=233 then select the left slider and set the color at R=239 G=232 B=203. Move to the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), select the existing fill and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 4

Make sure that your "pageRight" is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image).

Select this new fill and drag it below the existing one. Make sure that your new fill stays selected, replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown in the following image then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 5

Make sure that your "pageRight" is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill and simply drag it below the existing ones.

Make sure that your new fill stays selected, replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown in the following image then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 6

Make sure that your "pageRight" is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a fourth fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill and simply drag it below the existing ones.

Make sure that your new fill stays selected, replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown in the following image then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 7

Make sure that your "pageRight" is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a fifth fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill and simply drag it below the existing ones.

Make sure that your new fill stays selected, replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown in the following image then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 8

Reselect your "pageRight" and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Vertical box then simply click the Copy button. Move to the Layers panel, double-click on the newly created shape and rename it "pageLeft".

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 9

Reselect your "pageLeft", drag it to the left and place it exactly as shown in the first image. Make sure that your "pageLeft" stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, open the existing Transform effects and simply inverse the attributes used in the Move-Horizontal section (replace 1 with -1, 2 with -2 and so on). In the end your "pageLeft" should look like in the second image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

3. Add Shading and Highlights for the Pages

Step 1

Reselect your "pageRight" and "pageLeft" shapes and duplicate them (Control-C > Control-F). Select both copies and simply hit Control-8 (or go to Object > Compound Path > Make) to turn them into a simple Compound Path.

Make sure that this new compound path stays selected and hit the D button from your keyboard to replace the existing Appearance attributes with the default ones (white fill and black stroke).

Focus on the Appearance panel, remove the black stroke then select the fill and replace the white with R=249 G=242 B=213. Move to the Layers panel, double-click on the compound path made in this step and rename it "bothPages".

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 2

Make sure that your "bothPages" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select the new fill, change its Blending Mode to Soft Light and add the radial gradient shown in the following image. Use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch that gradient as shown in the following image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 3

Make sure that your "bothPages" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill. Select this new fill, change the Blending Mode to Color Burn , lower its Opacity to 10% and add the linear gradient shown in the following image. Keep in mind that the white numbers from the Gradient image stand for Location percentage while the yellow zeros stand for Opacity percentage.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 4

Make sure that your "bothPages" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a fourth fill. Select this new fill, change the Blending Mode to Color Burn , lower its Opacity to 8% and add the linear gradient shown in the following image. Don't forget that the white numbers from the Gradient image stand for Location percentage while the yellow numbers stand for Opacity percentage.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 5

Make sure that your "bothPages" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a fifth fill. Select this new fill, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 2%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1.5px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 6

Make sure that your "bothPages" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a sixth fill. Select this new fill, set the color at white, lower its Opacity to 8%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1.5px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Artistic > Sponge. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 7

Reselect your "pageRight" and "pageLeft" shapes along with the "bothPages" compound path and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel, double-click on this new group and rename it "Pages".

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 8

Make sure that your "Pages" group stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the top, left window (in the following image), click OK then add the other four Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

4. Create the Page Holes

Step 1

For this step you will need a grid every 1px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 7px square, set the fill color at black and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 2

Reselect your black square and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px Radius, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the top window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the bottom window and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 3

Open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Reselect your black square along with the "Pages" group, open the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel and go to Make Opacity Mask. Check the Clip box and masked pages should look like in the second image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a new, 7px square. Set the fill color at R=39 G=170 B=225, place it as shown in the following image and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px Radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 5

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1px. Reselect your blue rounded rectangle and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px to the right using the right arrow button from your keyboard.

Reselect both copies, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Minus Front button. Select the resulting shape and replace the existing fill color with R=149 G=142 B=113.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 6

Reselect your blue rounded rectangle and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2px to the right using that same right arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting shape and replace the existing fill color with R=109 G=102 B=73.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 7

Reselect your blue rounded rectangle and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the bottom copy and move it 1px down using the down arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting shape, replace the existing fill color with R=109 G=102 B=73 and change its Blending Mode to Overlay.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 8

Reselect your blue rounded rectangle and hit Shift-X to transfer the color properties from the fill to the stroke. Select the stroke, replace the existing color with R=149 G=142 B=113, open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) and check the Align Stroke to Inside button. In the end things should look like in the first image.

Reselect the rounded rectangle edited in this step along with the three, thin shapes used to highlight it and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel, double-click on this new group and rename it "hole".

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 9

Reselect your "hole" group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the top window (make sure that you check the Reflect X box), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the bottom window and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

5. Create the Rings

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 23 x 2px shape and set the fill color at R=200 G=200 B=200. Make sure that this grey rectangle is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px Radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Switch to the the Pen Tool (P), create a 27px, horizontal path and place it as shown in the second image. Add a simple stroke for this path, just to make it easier to notice.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 2

Reselect your horizontal path along with the grey rounded rectangle and click the Divide button from the Pathfinder panel. This should divide your rounded rectangle in to equal halves. Select the bottom half and replace the existing fill color with R=50 G=50 B=50.

Move to the Layers panel, double-click on the groups made in this step and rename it "ringBack". Duplicate your "ringBack" group (Control-C > Control-F), focus on the copy and rename it "ringFront". Select the two shapes inside your "ringFront" group and replace the existing fill colors with the ones shown in the third image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 3

Select your "ringBack" group, place it exactly as shown in the first image and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 4

Make sure that your "ringBack" group is selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting group, drag it behind your "Pages" group (in the Layers panel) and go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 5

Select your "ringFront" group, place it exactly as shown in the first image and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 6

Make sure that your "ringFront" group is selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting group and go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 7

Reselect your "ringFront" group and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Make sure that only the group copy is selected and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting shapes, click the Unite button from the Pathfinder then hit Control-8. Fill this new compound path with white.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 8

Make sure that your white compound path is still selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill, change its Blending Mode to Color Dodge and simply replace the white with the left linear gradient shown in the following image.

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel, add a second fill and use the right linear gradient shown in the following image. Remember that the white numbers from the Gradient images stand for Location percentage while the yellow zeros stand for Opacity percentage.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 9

Reselect your "ringFront" group and go to Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

6. Create the Line Guides

Step 1

Return to gridline every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Using the Pen Tool (P), create a 155px, horizontal path and place it as shown in the first image.

Add a 1pt stroke for this new path and set its color at R=147 G=190 B=223. Next, you need to make sure that this new path is perfectly aligned to the pixel grid. Reselect it, focus on the Appearance panel, select the stroke and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK. Enable the Pixel Preview (View > Pixel Preview) then have a look at your path with and without the Transform affect to understand exactly what changes.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 2

Reselect that blue line and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 3

Using the Pen Tool (P), create a 255px, vertical path and place it as shown in the first image. Add a 1pt stroke for this new path and set its color at R=252 G=206 B=200. Make sure that this new path stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the stroke and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 4

Reselect the blue and the pink paths and Group them (Control-G). Select this new group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image (make sure that you check the Reflect X box) and click OK. In the end things should look like in the second image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

7. Add Shading and Highlights for the Cover

Step 1

Switch to gridline every 1px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create two, 35 x 5px shapes. Fill both shapes with R=39 G=170 B=225 and place them as shown in the following image. Make sure that both rectangles are selected and turn them into a simple Compound Path (Control-8).

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 2

Reselect the blue compound path along with the "cover" rectangle and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Send the resulting shape to back (Shift-Control-[ ) and replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Move to the Layers panel and simply rename the shape made in this step "cover".

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 3

Reselect your "cover" shape, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select this new fill, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 4%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 4

Reselect your "cover" shape, focus on the Appearance panel and add a 1pt stroke. Select it, set the color at black, align it to outside and lower its Opacity to 10%.

Make sure that your "cover" shape stays selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Stroke button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image). Select this new stroke, make it 2pt wide, align it to outside and lower its Opacity to 5%. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a third stroke using that same Add New Stroke button. Select this new stroke, make it 1pt wide, align it to inside and lower its Opacity to 15%.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 5

Reselect your "cover" shape, focus on the Appearance panel, select the existing fill and add the four Drop Shadow effects (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow) shown in the following image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 6

Reselect your "cover" shape, focus on the Appearance panel, make sure that the entire path is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 10px radius and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

8. Add Some Subtle Brushes and Text

Step 1

Return to gridline every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Using the Pen Tool (P), create a 375px, vertical path and place it as shown in the first image.

Open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes), add the Chalk - Scribble art brush for the path made in this step, lower its Opacity to 75% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Duplicate this new path (Control-C > Control-F), select the copy, rotate it 180 degrees and place it as shown in the second image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 2

Disable the Grid (View > Hide Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the two shapes with the art brush and Group them (Control-C > Control-F). Reselect your "cover" shape, make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F) and bring it to front (Shift-Control-] ). Make sure that this copy stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Get rid of the existing fills and strokes, keep the Rounded Corners effect and add a simple, white fill.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 3

Reselect the white shape and the group of vertical paths made in the previous step, open the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel and go to Make Opacity Mask. In the end your masked brushes should look like in the second image.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 4

Pick the Type Tool (T), click on your artboard and simply add your text. Use the "Kunstler Script" font with the size set at 25pt and the color at R=43 G=57 B=144.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

9. Add a Patterned Background

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and simply click on your artboard to open the Rectangle window. Enter 715 in the Width box and 595 in the  Height box then click OK. Fill this new shape with R=245 G=232 B=208 then send it to back (Shift-Control-[ ).

Next, you need to center this rectangle, so open the Align panel (Window > Align). Set the aligning to Artboard (open the fly out menu and go to Show Options if you can't see the Align To section as shown in the following image) then simply click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. In the end your rectangle should cover the entire artboard. Move to the Layers and rename this new shape "background".

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 2

Reselect your "background" shape, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. You will need a built-in pattern for this new fill so open the fly-out menu of the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Decorative > Decorative_Geometric 1. A new window with a set of built-in patterns should open. Make sure that the fill added in the beginning of the step is still selected, add the "Diamond Spirals Color" pattern, lower its Opacity to 15%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown

in the following image and click OK.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Step 3

Reselect your "background" shape, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill. Select this new fill, lower its Opacity to 15%, change the Blending Mode to Color Burn and add the radial gradient shown in the following image. Don't forget that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

Vintage Notebook Illustration

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

Vintage Notebook Illustration
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