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Creating a Swinging 60s Room in Adobe Illustrator CS5

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Read Time: 13 mins

In today's Premium tutorial you'll learn how to go from basic sketch concept, which was inspired by a past era, as well as stock, and then set to vector an aged retro living room. The final artwork is complete with vector textures, a television, chair and folded fabric using gradients and the ever wonderful Appearance panel.

Final Image Preview

You can find the source files in the directory labeled 'source' that came in the files that you downloaded. You may wish to look through them briefly before we begin. A preview of the final image is below.

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS5
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Estimated Completion Time: 4 hours+


After creating a swinging 60s look with one of my previous portrait tutorial subjects, I wanted to created a living space inspired by the same decade. I just love the bold use of color in that eras decor.

So let's get to it...

Step 1

Although I had a very basic idea on what I wanted in my 1960s inspired room, I needed to create a rough sketch of how I wanted it to look and the placement of the objects within. I wanted some sort of plastic chair, a television set, a curtain, a rug and possibly something on the wall. So below is my extremely rough sketch that I did in Photoshop.

From the sketch, I went on a stock hunt for plastic retro looking chairs and I came across an inspiring stock image, which you can find here. It has a great chair in it, perfect for what I want to create:

And it also gave me a great idea for the "something on the wall" idea... the pattern is very 60s and seems to be something made to be recreated in vector!

Step 2

I'm going to begin vectoring each of the objects first and then integrate them into my living space. First up is the chair and I'm going to prepare my layers as I usually do, with a layer for the reference images, and another for a 50% Opacity Rectangle (M) over the top, and then a separate layer for the "Bases".

Step 3

I'm going to use the Pen Tool (P) to draw the two areas of the chair and then render the shading on top of them. I'm sticking to grayscale, as I can manipulate the colors later on using Blending Modes.

Step 4

Duplicate the base shape for the actual seat, then create the below using the Appearance panel and off white transparent, radial gradients. The original shape will be used later on to produce a Clipping Mask. I tend to avoid using white as nothing is a pure white. I've set each of these shapes to Opacity 50%.

Step 5

I've added further shapes around the chair for the highlights with the off white transparent radial gradient and kept the Opacity at 100%.

Then added medium gray, transparent, radial gradients for the shading. These are set to Opacity 40%.

Step 6

I'm going to use a round blend art brush to add off white strokes around the curves of the chair. You can create the blend brushes used in this tutorial from my jellyfish tutorial. I've set these strokes to Opacity 40%.

Step 7

I'm going to Group up all the elements (Command + G) and then use the original seat shape to create a Clipping Mask (Command + 7).

Step 8

For the base of the chair, I'm going to use a similar method for shading. First duplicate the base, which will be used in the Clipping Mask later on and then create the below via the Appearance panel.

Step 9

Now for the medium gray, transparent, radial gradients, these are set to Opacity 40%.

I've then added an off white, transparent, radial gradient for a shine on the main leg of the chair. This is set to Opacity 80%.

Step 10

The blend brushes are then added to strokes for the shine on the base. These are with an off white stroke color and Opacity 50%.

Then I put them all within a Clipping Mask with the original shape for the base (Command + 7).

Step 11

Now that I see the whole chair together, I'm going to add further detailing to it. The first is adding medium gray and light gray blend brush strokes around the seating area to enhance the shape. These are then put in the Clipping Mask group.

The next is adding light strokes around the seam of the chair and to help define the arm from the back of the chair. These are with the blend brush and are set to Stroke Weight 0.1pt. With the seam, which goes along the front, I've also included a medium gray stroke of 0.1pt to help emphasize it.

Step 12

Now to work on the wallpaper design inspired from the stock image. I'm not going for the panels of varied lengths, but several stalks of the design. I've created it by pulling out one of the corners of an even circle (L), then duplicating it, and applying Object > Transform > Reflect > Horizontal.

Using the Line Segment Tool (\), I've drawn a vertical 7pt Stroke Weight line in between the shapes and then Object > Expanded it. Once done, I've Grouped all three shapes (Command + G).

Step 13

When it comes to placing the wallpaper, I'm going to use the Effects > Distort & Transform > Transform to duplicate the item and to "Move" it vertically and then again horizontally. The actual values you move it will completely depend on the size of the shapes you've created.

Step 14

I wanted to find a retro looking television set and I came across this stock image and it gave me a different idea from what I already had. I'm first going to set it up within the document after I've cropped it in Photoshop.

Step 15

I'm first going to create the plastic center of the screen using the Appearance panel. Starting with an off black to gray linear gradient and then Offset Path for -1pt with an off black fill. This gives the impression of a 1pt stroke around the Rectangle (M) which has a gradient to it. I've repeated the same to give an impression of another gradient outline and then finished off with 5pt Round Corners.

The corners of the plastic have highlights where the plastic is bending. So I'm going to create four New Fills for the plastic and apply a transparent radial gradient as shown below.

Step 16

There are two ways I can alter the shape for the plastic, the first is going to be via Object > Envelope Distort > Reset with Warp (Alt + Shift + Command + W) and from the drop-down menu, I'm going to use the style Inflate. I'm wanting just a slight bend and this is going to have the value of "9".

Step 17

I've done a similar method for the actual screen of the television, but the value for the Round Corners is set to 20pt. I've also Inflated the shape via the Fx menu at the bottom of the Appearance panel.

I've used the same method for the outside of the television and this time included a texture onto the inside. This is one of the default textures which you can find in the Swatch libraries by going to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures and selecting the pattern "USGS 21 Intricate Surface" to help give a textured warped plastic surface.

Step 18

As I say, the original stock image has inspired me to create a different looking television and this is a more plastic looking television set within a sphere on an elongated stand. So to create the sphere I'm going to use the Appearance panel again with an even Circle (L).

First to fill it with a white to medium gray, radial gradient, with the center in the top left corner. The reason being is that the light source on the chair appears to be in this direction.

Now add New Fill with the same gradient, but modified and with the gradient central. This will be set to Blending Mode Color Burn and Opacity 30%. Use these settings to create a New Graphic Style which can be used later on.

Step 19

The stand of the unit is going to be created using the Effects > 3D > Revolve effect. So I'm first going to create the shape of half of the stand and give it an off white fill. I've colored it blue here to make it easier to see.

I've then used the perspective of the chair as a guide to estimate the angles of the stand and altered the surface light using the More Options section of the 3D Revolve Options, as shown below.

Step 20

I've created three conical gradient knobs by following a great tutorial by Iaroslav Lazunov. Use the Align panel to Vertical Align Top so they are all uniform.

Step 21

To finish off the television, I've added three shapes with an off white transparent radial gradient fill set to Blending Mode Screen and Opacity 30% to give a slight shine to the screen.

Step 22

Now to create the curtains/drapes of the room. I'm going to start by creating a simple blend. I've already decided that I want a purple room, so I want a subtle dip dye fabric for the curtains. The top is going to be a light purple and the bottom a medium purple.

To start off, I'm going to draw a wavy 5pt Stroke Weight line with the Pen Tool (P). Duplicate the line and then move it to the top. Select both lines and create a Blend (Command + Shift + B). When you go into the Object > Blend > Blend Options, make sure it is set to "Smooth Color".

I've duplicated the blend and then Object > Expand and Object > Expand Appearance and used Pathfinder > Unite to create one shape. You may notice the edges have too many points, so I've layered a Rectangle (M) either side and used Pathfinder > Minus Front to trim the edges.

Step 23

Before I start the shading on the curtains, I'm going to sketch where I think the light source is. It looks like it may be behind the chair, but still to the left.

Now to set some guides for the curtains. I've duplicated the Blend and then Released it so I just have the top and bottom lines. Using this, I've used the Line Segment Tool (\) to create vertical lines to show me where the folds in the fabric would be.

Step 24

It's important to note that the top of the curtains won't be visible in the final composition, so I'm not too concerned with how the top of them look. I'm more focused on the bottom. I've created a gradient with a bold purple, medium dark and dark purple to follow the curves of the fabric. I've used the fabric fold guides to know where to keep the transitions in color tight so they create an almost hard edge.

I've then created a New Fill and added another Basic Graphic_Texture on top of the gradient called "Mezzotint Irregular" to give a subtle pattern/texture on the fabric.

Step 25

I've placed the blend on top of the gradient shape and set it to Blending Mode Soft Light to create a slight alteration in color towards the bottom. To emphasize the shine in the curtains, I've added three purple vertical lines with the blend brush set to Blending Mode Color Dodge, with Opacity 50%.

I've then added all these shapes to a Clipping Mask with a duplicate of the gradient shape.

Step 26

Now to begin placing the objects for the composition. I've used the Rectangle Tool (M) to add shapes for the floor, skirting boards, wall and sectioned off wallpaper. I've used all purple tints, however this will change later on.

Step 27

For each of the rectangles, I've added the following Appearance panel settings:

The carpet, using the "USGS 21 Intricate Surface" pattern for texture and I've used transparent radial gradients to produce a shadow for the curtains, TV and chair... however I later remove the shadow for the TV and chair.

The skirting board is a simple transparent, linear gradient to create an edge on the top of the boarding.

The wall has a gradient that creates a soft shadow from the top of the wall and underneath the framed wallpaper.

The wallpaper section itself has a frame Offset by 10pt and then gradients to create the impression of a raised edge on the top and bottom.

Then finally, the pattern on top of the wallpaper is set to Blending Mode Hard Light and Opacity 90% to allow for the subtle change of color.

Step 28

I don't want to have anything on the wall other than the wallpaper pattern, yet I feel there needs to be something else intruding on the space. I've decided to add antennae to the television set, with the Graphic Style created from the sphere of the TV casing at the top of the rods.

Step 29

For the rug, I've drawn an Ellipse (L) and used the below Appearance panel settings and included two textures. The first is "Sticks" to add an overall fluffy surface. I then scaled the pattern (Object > Transform > Scale and only ticked "Pattern") to 80%. I then added the "Crosses" pattern on top to add subtle highlights to the fabric.

Step 30

I've went back into the Appearance panel for the carpet and modified the shadows cast for the TV and chair, then used the gradient for a subtle shadow for under the rug to help emphasize it's depth.

Step 31

As all the surfaces are purple, I want this reflected in the shiny plastic surfaces of the television and chair. I've used a medium purple with the blend brush to add reflections underneath the plastic surfaces and then moved them to the corresponding Clipping Mask groups.

Step 32

To create a shadow, I've drawn the shapes of what I think the shadows will look like for the chair and television with the Pen Tool (P), then gave them a black fill. I used the Blend Brush with a 0.5pt black stroke to help blur the edges, then changed the Blending Mode to Multiply and Opacity to 30%.

Step 33

I want to give the whole composition an aged feel, so I'm first going to add the default "Green, Yellow, Orange" linear gradient and "Sticks" pattern over the top of the entire illustration. Then below, I've used the "Tissue Paper 1" texture from a Premium Pack I did set to Blending Mode Darken, Opacity 100% to give a slight distorted texture.


After altering some of the colors, I decided on matching greens and purple/pinks together to make it bold, beautiful and very 1960s!

I hope you've enjoyed today's Premium tutorial and hope it's inspired you to create your own 1960s living room.

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