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Design a Print-Ready Beer Label in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

It's time to roll up your sleeves and get down to business with this full-featured Adobe Illustrator CC tutorial. This one takes you from setup to production of a really cool beer label design. Although this could be useful for any bottled concoction of your choosing, we are going to be working on printable beer labels for this one.

We get to cover all kinds of useful tools like Type On A Path, Live Trace, and the Opacity Mask. My buddy brewed his own beer and I made him personalized beer labels using this technique, and they were an instant hit! I'm very happy to show you how it's done. OK, let's do it!

Need a Label Quick?

Looking for a customizable, ready-made label that doesn't need software? Head on over to Placeit, where you can use the Beer Bottle label maker to create unique and creative label designs, like this purrfect witches brew craft beer label.

witches brew beer label maker on Placeit

What You Will Need

As well as access to Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, you’ll also need to download the following image file and font to follow this tutorial:

What You'll Learn in This Beer Label Design Tutorial

  • How to set up a beer bottle label design in Illustrator
  • How to add text and graphics to the beer label
  • How to create a banner strip for the custom beer label
  • How to integrate a photo image into your homebrew beer label
  • How to use the Placeit beer label maker
  • How to create a label template in Illustrator

1. How to Set Up a Printable Beer Label File

Step 1

Open a new Illustrator document (File > New or Command-N), and set the beer label size to 11 inches by 8.5 inches in CMYK color mode. This probably isn't your default setting, so make sure to change the Units and Color Mode for this one.

Select the Rectangle Tool (M), with no Fill and 0.25 pt stroke, and then click once on the stage and enter 4 in wide by 3.5 in high. Select the Ellipse Tool (L), click once on the stage, and enter 2.1 in by 2.2 in. Select both the ellipse and the square, and in the Align panel, center the objects horizontally and vertically.

center align rectangle and ellipse artboard illustrator beer label file setup

Step 2

Select the square, and in the menu, go to Effect > Crop Marks.

Increase the square's size to 4.125 in by 3.875 in. This square will be the size of our image, which is 1/8 in larger than the crop marks. This ensures no white space when you or the printers cut these labels out.

 set crop marks to square shape align center illustrator beer label

Step 3

Select All (Command-A), and in the Align panel, toggle the artboard and center the label horizontally and vertically.

Select the square with the crop marks and, from the top menu, select Object > Lock > Selection (Command-2).

align center horizontal vertical beer label design set onto artboard illustrator

2. How to Add Text & Graphics to the Beer Label Design

Step 1

OK, now we can start really making graphics. First off, select the ellipse and Copy it (Command-C). Don't paste it quite yet. Fill the oval with dark green #6B752A. Give the oval an inside light green #D3E27E 3 pt stroke.

Use the Appearance panel to add an outside dark green #6B752A 1.5 pt stroke.

apply stroke inside outside beer label design in appearance panel

Step 2

Go ahead and Paste in Front your copied ellipse (Command-F).

Double-click the Scale Tool to bring up the Scale dialogue panel, and enter 65% in the Uniform field.

Select both ellipses and, in the Pathfinder panel, apply Shape Modes: Minus Front, and then click Expand.

Paste in Front Circle and Scale Tool Uniform Minus Front to create beer label design

Step 3

You should still have your original oval in the clipboard, so take the ellipse and Paste in Front again (Command-F).

Double-click the Scale Tool to bring up the Scale dialogue panel, and this time enter 71% in the Uniform field, and click OK.

scale ellipse using scale tool dialogue panel beer label design

Step 4

Select the Type On A Path Tool and choose one of the Envato Elements fonts (I used Bristain Rought Serif font at 23 pt, and Tracking at 130) and set the Fill color to white. Click on the oval and type the brand name of the product—for example, 'OLD BARREL'—on the beer label design.

Adjust the Tracking (the space between the letters), if necessary, by clicking between the letters and pressing Command-Shift-[ or ].

Adjust the baseline, if necessary, by increasing or decreasing the size of the ellipse that the text is on.

type on path tool add font text adjust spacing shortcut adobe illustrator bristain rought serif font beer label

Step 5

View the Rulers by pressing Command-R or Menu > View > Show Rulers, select the type, and drag a horizontal guide from the top ruler to the center of the circle. If the guide isn't visible, then go to Menu > View > Show Guides (Command-;). Use the Selection Tool (V) to drag the handle of the text to the center position.

use selection tool to drag handle text to center position adobe illustrator beer labelv

Step 6

Select the Ellipse Tool (L). Click and hold Alt-Shift while dragging outward from the center of your oval to create a circle that extends past the empty center of the oval. Fill it with orange #F2781C and null Stroke.

Right-click > Arrange > Send to Back (Command -Alt-[) to send the orange circle to the back.

richt click arrange send to back ellipse adobe illustrator

3. How to Create a Banner Strip for the Beer Label Badge

Step 1

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and click once on the artboard to open the Rectangle dialogue panel.

Enter 2.2 in and 0.3 in for the Width and Height.

With the rectangle selected, go to the Gradient panel and choose a horizontal linear gradient color #533930 on each end and #704438 in the middle.

Give the rectangle a 1 pt black Stroke, and check the Round Join option.

create banner strip with rectangle tool and use gradient and stroke round join option

Step 2

In the menu, go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Warp and choose Squeeze, check Horizontal, and Bend only 2%.

object envelope distort make with wrap and squeeze banner horizontal bend

Step 3

Type in the kind of product, such as 'Handcrafted Beer', and center it in the rectangle (I'll stick with Bristain Rought Serif font for all the text).

add bristain rought serif font text handcrafted beer on rectangle beer banner strip

Step 4

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and click once on the artboard. Enter 0.5 in width and 0.3 in height. Give it a 1 pt black Stroke, using the Round Join option again.

Give this rectangle a Linear Gradient with #533930 on the left and #986633 on the right.

rectangle tool apply stroke and gradient linear gradient to banner tail

Step 5

With the rectangle selected, go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points.

With the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the middle point on the right of the rectangle, and drag it towards the center to create the end of the tail. Hold Shift while dragging to force it to be straight.

direct selection tool object path add anchor points

Step 6

Place this tail object on the right end of the rectangle, and nudge it down a bit. Send it behind the rectangle: Right-click > Arrange > Send Backward (Command-[).

Copy (Command-C) the tail object and Paste in Front (Command-F).

Right-click the copied tail object and select Transform > Reflect. Choose Vertical and 90 degrees for the angle. Move the reflected tail object over to the left side, holding Shift while dragging to force it to be straight.

banner strip tails reflect and align send back adobe illustrator

Step 6

Now, a detail to make the banner more realistic: zoom in close to where the right tail meets the rectangle. Choose the Pen Tool (P) and draw a shape with four clicks: the bottom right of the rectangle, the bottom left of the tail, straight up to any position (hold Shift), and back to the beginning point to close.

Fill the shape with a dark brown #2D1C17 and 1 pt rounded black Stroke.

Press, Command-[ until the shape is behind the rectangle but in front of the tail.

add banner details send to back pent tool draw adobe illustrator beer label template

Step 7

Copy it (Command-C), and Paste in Front (Command-F).

Right-click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical 90 degrees.

Shift-drag to the same spot on the left end of the beer label banner.

copy paste in front shortcuts reflect vertical banner detail beer label design

Step 8

Select the entire banner and go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Warp, choosing Arc and 12% for the Bend.

object envelope distort make with warp arc and bend degrees beer label banner design

Step 8

Now, let's place the beer label banner into the design.

Click the brand name text 'OLD BARREL' so the center point is visible. Drag a vertical guide from the left Ruler to the center point. Place the banner in position, using the vertical guide to keep it centered.

use ruler guides to center banner strip on beer label design template

4. How to Draw & Add a Wheat Grain to the Beer Label 

Step 1

We could just grab an image of wheat or a stock vector, but would you learn much? Nope! So let's make stalks of wheat from scratch. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a small thin vertical oval of any color.

Use the Convert Anchor Point Tool (which is nested in the Pen Tool) and click the top point of the oval. Use the Selection Tool (V) and press Alt while dragging to create a copy of this teardrop shape to use as the tip of the wheat in a few steps. Place it aside for now.

create wheat grain shape using ellipse tool and convert anchor

Step 2

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag the top point up and to the left on our original teardrop shape. With the Direct Selection Tool (A), drag the left curve handle to the right, which curves the teardrop shape. Now it looks more like a grain of wheat.

Double-click the Rotate Tool (R) and choose an Angle of about -20 degrees. You want to get that tip pointing slightly right of vertical.

use direct selection tool rotate wheat grain at angle beer label design template

Step 2

From the menu, select Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. This is a great feature of Illustrator. You can use it to create all kinds of interesting patterns and shapes. In this case, we will repeat the wheat grain to make the rest of the wheat stalk. Check Preview and enter 3 for Copies and -0.45 in (about) for Vertical. Click OK when it looks right.

use distort and transform to create multiple wheat grains

Step 3

Copy it (Command-C), Paste in Front (Command-F), and then Right-click > Transform > Reflect, and choose Vertical 90 degrees. Nudge it left into position. Place your copied teardrop on the tip.

Use the Line Segment Tool (\) and create a 2 pt, Round Join, Round Cap, white vertical line for the stem, below the grains.

copy and paste in front reflect wheat grain stem stroke beer label design template

Step 4

Select all the wheat elements and make them white.

From the menu, select Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp, and choose Arc for the style, check Vertical, and about a 30% Bend.

object envelope distort make with warp arc bend vertical

Step 5

Place the wheat on the label, resizing and rotating as necessary, and then go to Arrange > Send Backward (Command-[) to send it behind the banner.

Copy (Command-C) and Paste in Front (Command-F).

Right-click, Transform > Reflect, choose Vertical 90 degrees, and move the copy to the right side of the label.

send backward copy paste wheat grain front transform reflect vertical 90 degrees custom beer label

5. How to Integrate Additional Text Into the Beer Label Badge

Step 1

Add the word 'Wheat', "Ale", "Kolsch", or whatever the type of drink it is. In the menu, go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp and enter an acceptable negative number in the Bend effect.

Position the text in the middle-bottom of the label.

add extra text for type of beer envelope distort make with warp bend effect beer label design

Step 2

Select and Copy (Command-C) the main large text-on-a-path.

Paste in Front (Command-F). Increase the size so the circle is just larger than the label oval. Use the Selection Tool (V), and click any corner of the text-on-a-path and Alt-Shift-Drag to expand equally.

Type a catchphrase or quote to personalize the product. Decrease the font size as necessary and use the color #6B752A. Use the Selection Tool (V) to adjust the position of the text on the curve, by dragging the right handle.

copy paste in front type on path add text and use selection tool to adjust

6. How to Add a Photo to a Homebrew Beer Label Design

Step 1

Get a photo of the brewmaster, or any person you'd like to feature on the label. It's the head and shoulders we're looking for. It's very helpful to have the subject on a white background. Many thanks to wookiestock at deviantart.com for this photo I have used in this tutorial. Open the photo in Adobe Photoshop.

photo brewmaster deviant art adobe photoshop

Step 2

In the Photoshop menu, go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold and adjust the slider until there's a good balance of light and dark in the face. We will need the face area to be contained, as in no breaks along the perimeter of the head, because we will fill the face in with white later. So for this image, I darkened his left cheek and right ear so there is a complete outline of his head after the threshold is applied.

adobe photoshop adjust threshhold in photo for beer label design template

Step 3

Use the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) to create a selection around the head and shoulders. Go to Select > Inverse (Command-Shift-I) and delete everything but the head and shoulders.

Crop (C) and Save (Command-S) the photo.

use elliptical marquee tool to invert selection  and crop image adobe photoshop

Step 4

Open your new face photo in Illustrator.

Select the image and click the Image Trace button in the Properties panel, or select the Black and White Logo preset from the Tracing Presets button, and Expand.

image trace photo set tracing presets in properties panel

Step 5

Click Live Paint, and then, with the Live Paint Bucket Tool (K), Fill all the black areas with dark brown #533930. Fill all the face portions with white. Clean up the image as necessary and place it in the middle of the label.

live paint bucket tool set dark brown and white and place center label

Step 6

Now we want the top of the head to pop out from the oval, but the rest to go behind the oval, making a 3D effect.

Select the face, Copy (Command-C), and Paste in Front (Command-F). Right-click and select Ungroup (Command-Shift-G).

copy paste in front and ungroup face photo to beer label design template

Step 7

In the Pathfinder panel, choose Unite and click Expand to make the face one solid shape.

pathfinder unite and expand shape illustrator beer label design

Step 8

Use the Knife Tool to chop off the top of the head, and delete the rest by using the Direct Selection Tool (A). The Knife Tool is one I hardly ever use, and there's no shortcut for it, so it may be tricky to find. It is hidden under the Eraser Tool (Shift-E).

Select the face and send it back behind the oval. The chopped-off head part will be in front now. Grab the Selection Tool (V) and Scale the face and head shape slightly up.

Wow, this thing is really starting to shape up! All we need now is a background, and the label is finished!

use knife to cut head shape adobe illustrator custom beer label design

7. How to Design a Custom Beer Bottle Label Background 

Step 1

Select the label square and Fill it with light green #D3E27E. Remove the stroke.

Use the Line Segment Tool (\) to create two horizontal 0.25 pt black lines: one near the top and one near the bottom. Feel free to make them longer than the square, as we will crop them later.

use line segment tool to create black lines on background beer custom label design

Step 2

The Blend option makes it easy to repeat these lines evenly across the background. Select them both and, in the menu, go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and choose 50 for Spacing: Specified Steps and click OK.

Now go to Object > Blend > Make to apply the effect. Send the lines behind the artwork but keep them in front of the green background.

object blend option space specified steps to lines and send back beer label custom design

Step 3

Another really cool feature in Illustrator is the Opacity Mask. I will use it here to fade out the lines.

Copy (Command-C) the green square and Paste it in Front (Command-F) of the lines, and give it a Radial black and white Gradient, with black in the center.

copy past in fron tsquare and give radial gradient in center beer label custom design

Step 4

Select the square and the lines, and in the Transparency panel dropdown menu, choose Make Opacity Mask. Adjust the gradient to fade the lines out in the center.

apply gradient opacity mask from transparency panel custom beer label design template

Step 5

Make sure to click the left square in the Transparency panel when you are finished editing the opacity mask, because you will not be able to select other elements until you do.

click transparency panel edit opacity clip custom beer label design template

7. How to Prepare a Print-Ready Beer Label Design 

Step 1

Some printers freak out when they see transparency-related effects, so we will flatten ours to be safe. Select the opacity mask and choose Object > Flatten Transparency.

flatten transparency opacity mask beer bottle labels custom beer label design

Step 2

Select all the text in this file or just Select All (Command-A), and in the menu, choose Type > Create Outlines. This will ensure your typography is preserved. It may be a good idea to save your file before this step, in case you want to edit the text later.

Step 3

Select everything including the crop marks and Group it (Command-G). Change the x-position to 3 in. Copy and Paste in Front another label (Command-F). Move the x-position of the second label to 8 in.

copy paste in front and place labels inches apart custom beer label design

Step 4

Ungroup (Command-Shift-G) the objects until you can select and delete the horizontal crop marks in the middle of the two labels. Here is your final, printer-friendly, super tasty illustration! You can have your own beer label print at home.

Thanks for following along, and I really hope your custom beer label designs are a big hit! Here is the original beer bottle label design I made for "Huja Brew", and a mockup of our custom design using Placeit's beer label maker.

ungoups and set artboard for print ready labels personalized beer label design template
beer bottle mockup and original design print ready beer label

Try a Placeit Customizable Beer Label Template

I hope you enjoyed this printable beer label tutorial and learned a few tricks along the way. Now you are a craft beer label designer!

If you are looking to save time or searching for other mockup designs, templates, and logos, check out these amazing beer label design makers on Placeit.

1. Witches Brew Beer Label Maker

witches brew beer label maker on Placeit

Prefer a darker, more mysterious theme? This template has a witchcraft aura to it, and you can completely customize the text, colors, and graphics.

2. Beer Label Generator for a Stout Beer

beer label generator stout beer placit

For a more serious, royal, sixteenth century feel, try this beer label generator. It's a simple, clean design, and you can easily adjust the layout content.

3. Wrestling Mask Beer Label Design Maker

beer label generator wrestling mask

This beer label design maker has a fun approach, with a lucha libre damaged effect to it. You can upload your own custom mask design, change the color tone, and try adding other decorative font styles to it.

4. Geisha Beer Label Maker Template

geisha oriental beer label design maker placeit template

If you are looking for an ornamental, colorful, and exotic design, try out this beer label design template. It's easy to adjust the layout content, and you can swap the colors and graphics to create a simple printable beer label.

5. Lager Beer Label Template

bohemiam, beer, label, design, maker, modern, mosaic, feel, graphics Placeit

To present a more modern, fresh, geometric style, try this lager beer label template. This is a great option for contemporary and unique brew mixes.

Design Your Own Printable Beer Labels

I hope you found the inspiration today to either custom design a beer label from scratch or generate one using the Placeit beer label maker. I'd love to see your own custom homebrew beer labels. Create your designs and share your results in the comments below!

Check out these other articles, roundups, and tutorials from Envato Tuts+ for even more design inspiration. Happy brewing!

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