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Create a Vintage Vector Framed Silhouette Design

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Read Time: 9 min
This post is part of a series called Simple Silhouette Exercises.
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In today's tutorial I'm going to collaborate with a great friend of mine, Ashley Benson and show you how to create a Victorian styled Silhouette. She's been great to give me this wonderful sketch specifically for our vintage vector art tutorial, so feel free to download it as part of your Tuts+ Premium membership to practice on. Learn basic techniques on creating a detailed, framed silhouette inspired by Victorian vintage postcard designs using scatter brushes, patterns and more. Using these techniques you can create your own vintage illustrations.

Step 1

First, I created a New Document with a Portrait Orientation. I File > Placed the vintage vector sketch onto the center of the canvas. If your sketch is larger than the artboard, use the Free Transform Tool (E) and hold down Alt + Shift to resize while maintaining the same ratio of width and height.

Click on Create New Layer at the bottom of Layers panel and draw a white fill rectangle across the artboard with the Rectangle Tool (M). Reduce the Opacity to 50% via the Transparency panel. Create a New Layer again and this will be the layer your shapes will be in.

If you're unsure how to rename a layer folder, double-click on your layer folder and you can enter in the name there and then click on OK.

Step 2

I'm going to use the Pen Tool (P) to begin drawing around the sketch. If you're not comfortable drawing large shapes with the Pen Tool (P), you could always draw separate shapes and then use Pathfinder option Unite. You draw each element as shown below, then Select All of your shapes (Command + A), and click on Unite to combine them into one shape.

Step 3

I'm just going to draw a selection of the shapes, as I'm going to create much smoother lines using tools other than the Pen Tool (P). Note how I've kept the boots and the dress separate. The reason being is that I'm going to show you how to create a quick lace brush to go along the bottom of the hem line.

Step 4

For the butterfly net, I'm going to draw the hoop and handle using strokes rather than fills. The hoop will be drawn using the Ellipse Tool (L) which I've then modified using the Free Transform Tool (E). I've given it a 5pt Stroke Weight.

I enabled Smart Guides (Command + U) to make it easier to connect my handle to the hoop. Using the Line Segment Tool (\) I've started my line at the bottom point of the hoop and pulled it down past the hand, making sure it goes through the bow silhouette.

The handle will be the same Stroke Weight as the hoop, 5pt and it will also have a Round Cap.

Step 5

This is an extra step which you don't have to do, but it's in case you need to combine all the shapes together. In order for you to do this, you'd need to convert the strokes/lines into shapes with a fill. You do this by selecting your shapes and going to Object > Expand.

You will then have two shapes, which you can then use Pathfinder > Unite to make into one shape.

Step 6

For the netting, I'm going to create a simple seamless pattern and then show you some ways to modify it. While holding Alt + Shift, create an even grid with the Rectangle Grid Tool. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select one of the corners of the square surrounding the grid and then Delete it.

Select the whole grid and then drag and drop it into the Swatches panel to create a seamless pattern.

Step 7

I've drawn the shape for the net, however I want to rotate the pattern 45 degrees so it is more a diamond pattern than a square one. You can do this by going to Object > Transform > Rotate and in the Options section on the dialogue box, select "Patterns" and untick "Objects" after entering your value in the Angle box.

I want to Shear the pattern now, again not the shape itself. So this time around going to Object > Transform > Shear. The same process of making sure only "Patterns" is ticked will mean only the pattern within the shape is affected.

Step 8

So I've drawn the back of the net, now for the front of it. I'm going to duplicate the net shape (Command + C to Copy and then Command + F to Paste in Front) and then use Pathfinder > Minus Front to remove a shape from the top of the net, as shown below.

Step 9

You can do other things to patterns without affecting the object's shape. I'm going to change the Scale of the pattern now by going to Object > Transform > Scale. I've increased the scale of just the "Patterns" by 150%. I've selected both shapes for this.

It won't be of any surprise now, but you can also move the pattern within a shape. I've moved the pattern slightly here so it looks like there is net overlapping, whereas before you cannot see this.

Step 10

For the hair, I'm going to use the Paintbrush Tool (B) to draw wavy lines going from the head and then applying a Profile to them. Profiles can be found within the Stroke panel. In this case, I used Width Profile 4 and a Stroke Weight of 10pt.

Step 11

I'm going to create a quick and easy lace brush. Draw a small circle (L) with a 1.5pt Stroke Weight. In the Brush panel, click on New Brush and select Scatter Brush. Use the options below and then click on OK.

Step 12

I'm going to draw two circles (L), then duplicate the smallest and arrange them as shown below. You can align the circles by using the Align panel. I've used Vertical Align Top in this case.

Then I've used Pathfinder > Unite to combine the shapes. With the Pen Tool (P) I've removed the points along the top to give a smooth line as shown below.

Step 13

I applied our circle Scatter brush around our new shape with a 1pt Stroke Weight. I'm then going to use this shape to create another Scatter brush with the settings shown below.

Step 14

Back to the silhouette, I'm going to use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select only the bottom five points of the dress. If you've used more, that's fine. Just select all of the points in between the far left and right points of the hem of the dress. Then Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) and you'll be left with just the hem line of the dress.

I've then applied the Lace 2 Scatter brush along this line with a 0.5pt Stroke Weight. I've drawn two white shapes on either side to hide the overlapping hem.

Step 15

I used the same Scatter brush with a 0.25pt Stroke Weight and white stroke color along the inside of her dress.

I added a 1pt Stroke Weight line along the top of the lace to give the impression of the top layer of clothing overlapping the lace.

I tidied up the top of the lace/top coat by adding a black fill shape over the top of the white lace at the corner, as shown below.

Step 16

A quick way of adding jewelry to the silhouette is to draw an Ellipse (L) and then add the Lace 1 Scatter brush around it with a 0.5pt Stroke Weight. You can add an additional Stroke via the Appearance panel by adding "Add New Stroke" and modifying the setting there. Ensure that the black fill and the white 0.5pt stroke are on top of the Lace 1 brush so it hides half of your lace circles.

Step 17

Once you're happy with your jewelry settings, you can add these as a New Graphic Style in the Graphic Styles panel, so you can apply these exact settings to a shape in the future.

Which is what I'm going to do here, as I'm going to add some further jewels along the dress at the bottom with the Ellipse Tool (L).

Step 18

Using the Profile option again in the Stroke panel, I added some lines for the ruffled fabric along the bottom of the dress. This time the white lines have a 2pt Stroke Weight and use Width Profile 5.

I'm also going to add a dashed white line along the bottom of the dress. You can do this by ticking the "Dashed Line" box in the Stroke panel and entering the value of the gaps/dashes you desire. In this case I've used a 2pt dash. I've also applied Width Profile 1 to the line so it tapers either side.

Step 19

I used the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a small white 0.5pt Stroke Weight shape, then duplicated it, and rotated it with the Free Transform Tool (E); these are to create details on the shoes.

Step 20

Using the Pen Tool (P) and again the Profile option, "Width Profile 1" to add a shine to the jewelry. I've added the same detail to the gems on the bottom of the dress.

Step 21

Now in the "BG" layer folder, below the silhouette shapes, I've used the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a shape around the lady. I've given it a black fill with a 2pt black stroke using the Lace 2 scatter brush. Then Add New Fill and click on the "fx" or Add New Effect button and go to Path > Offset path. I've entered in the value -15pt and clicked on OK.

I then gave it a white fill. This has effectively duplicated the ellipse shape, contracted it by 15pts, and given it a white fill. You can increase the size by adding a positive figure.

Now Add New Stroke and used Offset path to add a 1pt line with a 2pt dash to it.

Step 22

Looking back on the silhouette, I decided the lines for the ruffles aren't as delicate as I wish. So I'm going to use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to first select one of the lines.

I then go to Select > Same > Appearance and it will select all lines which have the same Appearance options... so all of the ruffle lines in this case. I then modified the lines all at the same time, as shown below.

Step 23

Finally, I used the Artboard Tool (Shift + O) to define the boundaries of the image before saving it.


Why not try creating your own vintage graphic silhouette from either a sketch or a stock photo? It's a great way of associating some vector specific tools with elements of a silhouette... for instance how we created the straight, uniform lines for the hoop and handle by using the Ellipse Tool and Line Segment Tool (\).

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