1. Design & Illustration
  2. Sci-Fi

How to Create a Futuristic Racing Illustration in Sketch

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Follow this tutorial to create a beautiful retro-futuristic style racing illustration. We’ll be using powerful Sketch drawing tools to create a futuristic composition with a desert landscape and racing hovercars.  

By the end of this tutorial, you'll have learned how to combine simple vector shapes to create a fun and attractive illustration. Let's get started!   

1. Set Up Your Document

As always let's start by creating our artboard. To do this, press A on the keyboard and draw an artboard sized at 850 px by 560 px.

Set up your artboardSet up your artboardSet up your artboard

2. Create Background

Select the Rectangle tool by pressing R on the keyboard and create a rectangle that is the same size as our artboard. Uncheck the borders, and then click on the Fill button and select Linear Gradient, using the Inspector Panel on the right.

For the top color stop, use #5D6AA4, and for the bottom color stop, use #ACE0EA.

Background gradientBackground gradientBackground gradient

3. Add Stars

Step 1

Let's add stars. To do that, we'll use different size circles. Grab the Oval (O) tool and start drawing stars. Don't forget to turn off borders using the Inspector Panel. For the colors, use #97C6CB and #F2CB89.

Start creating starsStart creating starsStart creating stars

Step 2

Continue to add more stars, just as we did in the previous step, until you have something like this.

Stars finishedStars finishedStars finished

Select all the stars you've created and place them into a group using Command-G. Name this group "stars".

4. Create a Falling Star

Step 1

Go to Insert > Shape > Star and draw a triangle. For the color, use #FFFFFF.

Falling star shapeFalling star shapeFalling star shape

Step 2

Next, pick the Vector (V) tool and draw a trail behind the triangle. Also use white (#FFFFFF) color.

Falling star trailFalling star trailFalling star trail

Step 3

Change Fill to Linear Gradient using the following settings:

  • 1 - Color: #FFFFFF; Alpha: 100%
  • 2 - Color: #73FFFF; Alpha0%
Falling star trail gradientFalling star trail gradientFalling star trail gradient

Step 4

Apply Gaussian Blur with the Amount of 1 px to the trail, using the Inspector Panel.

Falling star trail gaussian blurFalling star trail gaussian blurFalling star trail gaussian blur

Group both shapes into the "falling star" group.

5. Draw the Moon

Step 1

Let's create the moon. Grab the Oval (O) tool and draw a circle. Use #FFFFFF for the color.

Basic moon shapeBasic moon shapeBasic moon shape

Step 2

Again using the Oval (O) tool, draw craters over the moon. You can use any color for those circles. I've used #A9A9A9.

Moon craters shapesMoon craters shapesMoon craters shapes

Step 3

Select all the circles (the moon shape and craters) and perform a Subtract operation from Layer > Combine > Subtract. Name the resulting shape "moon".

Subtract craters from moon shapeSubtract craters from moon shapeSubtract craters from moon shape

Step 4

Then, using the Inspector Panel on the right, change the Fill to Linear Gradient with the following settings:

  • 1 - Color: #6C80B3; Alpha: 100% 
  • 2 - Color: #96C5CA; Alpha: 100%
Moon gradientMoon gradientMoon gradient

6. Draw the Sun

Step 1

Use the Oval (O) tool to create the sun's outer glow by drawing a large circle at the bottom right corner of our artboard. Set the Fill to Linear Gradient using the settings:

  • 1 - Color: #FAE8C7; Alpha: 100% 
  • 2 - Color: #F2C68B; Alpha: 100%
Sun outer glowSun outer glowSun outer glow

Step 2

Apply Gaussian Blur with the Amount of 5 px.

Sun outer glow gaussian blurSun outer glow gaussian blurSun outer glow gaussian blur

Step 3

Set the Opacity to 50%.

Sun outer glow adjust opacitySun outer glow adjust opacitySun outer glow adjust opacity

Step 4

Duplicate (Command-D) this circle, turn off Gaussian Blur, and set the Opacity back to 100%.

Duplicate outer glow and turn off gaussian blur and set opacity to 100Duplicate outer glow and turn off gaussian blur and set opacity to 100Duplicate outer glow and turn off gaussian blur and set opacity to 100

Step 5

Finally, scale it down a bit. Use the image shown below as a reference.

Sun finishedSun finishedSun finished

Select both circles and group them (Command-G) into "sun".

7. Create Sand Dunes

Step 1

Use the Vector (V) tool to create a shape as shown in the image below. Use #DB9C72 color. Name this shape "sand".

Sand shape in the backSand shape in the backSand shape in the back

Step 2

Using the Oval (O) tool, draw an ellipse, and apply Linear Gradient for the Fill, with the following settings:

  • 1 - Color: #C3736D; Alpha: 100% 
  • 2 - Color: #D99568; Alpha: 100%
First sand dune gradientFirst sand dune gradientFirst sand dune gradient

Step 3

Draw another ellipse, but this time use the following settings for the Linear Gradient:

  • 1 - Color: #DA896D; Alpha: 100% 
  • 2 - Color: #DCA474; Alpha: 100%
First sand dune gradientFirst sand dune gradientFirst sand dune gradient

Step 4

Select both ellipses and the "sand" shape and choose Mask from the top toolbar. Here's what we have right now. Name the resulting group "dunes1".

Sand dunes in the back finishedSand dunes in the back finishedSand dunes in the back finished

8. Add More Sand Dunes

Step 1

Draw a shape as shown in the image below. Use #D79D73 for the color. Give this shape the name "sand2".

Sand shape in frontSand shape in frontSand shape in front

Step 2

Draw a rectangle using the Rectangle (R) tool. Set the Fill to Linear Gradient using the settings:

  • 1 - Color#D6806AAlpha100% 
  • 2 - Color#A3576DAlpha100%
Third sand dune shapeThird sand dune shapeThird sand dune shape

Step 3

Draw a shape as shown in the image below, using the Vector (V) tool. Use #D8D8D8 for the color.

Fourth sand dune shapeFourth sand dune shapeFourth sand dune shape

Step 4

Select Linear Gradient for the Fill with the following settings:

  • 1 - Color#C5746DAlpha100% 
  • 2 - Color#D6866DAlpha100%
Fourth sand dune - first gradient Fourth sand dune - first gradient Fourth sand dune - first gradient

Step 5

Apply a Linear Gradient to this shape. Click on the plus sign by the Fill title in the Inspector Panel to Add New Fill

Here are the settings for the color stops:

  • 1 - Color#7A5E61Alpha100% 
  • 2 - Color#000000Alpha0%
Fourth sand dune - second gradient Fourth sand dune - second gradient Fourth sand dune - second gradient

Step 6

Pick up the Vector (V) tool and draw one more shape. Again we'll apply Linear Gradient to this shape too. The settings are:

  • 1 - Color#B9707CAlpha100% 
  • 2 - Color#DBA374Alpha: 100%
Fifth sand dune gradient Fifth sand dune gradient Fifth sand dune gradient

Step 7

At the end, select all the shapes that we've created in this step and select Mask from the top toolbar. Give this resulting group the name "dunes2".

Sand dunes finishedSand dunes finishedSand dunes finished

9. Draw a Hovercar

Step 1

Draw a basic hovercar shape with the Vector (V) tool. Set the color to #AF191E.

Draw a basic hovercar shapeDraw a basic hovercar shapeDraw a basic hovercar shape

Step 2

Let's add some highlights. Grab the Vector (V) tool and draw the shape shown in the image below. The color should be #E42A30.

Draw a first highlight over hovercarDraw a first highlight over hovercarDraw a first highlight over hovercar

Step 3

Select this and the hovercar shape and perform Mask from the top toolbar. The result of this masking operation is automatically placed into a new group in the Layers List on the left. Name this group "body".

Mask the first highlightMask the first highlightMask the first highlight

Step 4

Make sure you're inside the "body". This way, everything we draw will be inside our "body" shape. Using the Vector (V) tool, create one more shape on top. For this shape, use a slightly darker red color, #DA1C23.

Add a second highlight over hovercarAdd a second highlight over hovercarAdd a second highlight over hovercar

Step 5

Then pick up the Rectangle (R) tool and create a rectangle over the hovercar's nose. Make sure the color is #D8D8D8.

Paint hovercar nosePaint hovercar nosePaint hovercar nose

Step 6

Change the Blend mode to Multiply.

Hovercar nose finishedHovercar nose finishedHovercar nose finished

Step 7

Now let's add some details. Invoke the Line (L) tool and draw some lines. Use #A32C2D for the color and set the Thickness to 1 px.

Hovercar details - linesHovercar details - linesHovercar details - lines

Step 8

Then draw a shape as shown in the image below, using the Vector (V) tool. You can use any color; it really doesn't matter. I've used #FFFFFF.

Hovercar details - rectangle at the bottomHovercar details - rectangle at the bottomHovercar details - rectangle at the bottom

Step 9

Add a Shadow from the Inspector Panel. The settings are:

  • X: 2 px
  • Y0 px
  • Blur0 px 
  • Color#000000
  • Alpha30% 
Hovercar details rectangle at the bottom add shadowHovercar details rectangle at the bottom add shadowHovercar details rectangle at the bottom add shadow

Step 10

Then add another Shadow with the following values:

  • X-1 px
  • Y0 px
  • Blur0 px 
  • Color#000000
  • Alpha35%
Hovercar details rectangle at the bottom add second shadowHovercar details rectangle at the bottom add second shadowHovercar details rectangle at the bottom add second shadow

Step 11

At the end, set the Opacity of this shape to 0%.

Hovercar details rectangle at the bottom finishedHovercar details rectangle at the bottom finishedHovercar details rectangle at the bottom finished

Step 12

It's time to add some screws. Draw a circle using the Oval (O) tool. Set the color to #A32C2D.

Hovercar details - draw a screwHovercar details - draw a screwHovercar details - draw a screw

Step 13

Add more circles by duplicating (Command-D) the one we just made. Use the image shown below as a reference.

Hovercar details - screws finishedHovercar details - screws finishedHovercar details - screws finished

10. Create Side Vents

Step 1

Just above the "body" group, draw a rectangle using the Rectangle (R) tool. For the color, use #C62128.

Create side vents - basic shapeCreate side vents - basic shapeCreate side vents - basic shape

Step 2

Apply Shadow from the Inspector Panel. The values are:

  • X1 px
  • Y0 px
  • Blur1 px 
  • Color#000000
  • Alpha60%
Side vent shape shadowSide vent shape shadowSide vent shape shadow

Step 3

Duplicate (Command-D) this shape 8 more times and place them as shown in the image below.

Create side vents groupCreate side vents groupCreate side vents group

Step 4

Using the method explained above, create three more groups of side vents. Use the image shown below as a reference.

Create side vents finishedCreate side vents finishedCreate side vents finished

Select all the side vent shapes and group them into a "side vents" group.

11. Create the Side Exhaust

Step 1

Draw a rounded rectangle using the Rounded (U) tool. Set the Radius to 50 px, and for the color use #231F20.

Draw side exhaust backgroundDraw side exhaust backgroundDraw side exhaust background

Step 2

Using the Rotate tool from the top toolbar, rotate the rectangle .

Rotate side exhaust backgroundRotate side exhaust backgroundRotate side exhaust background

Step 3

Apply Inner Shadow:

  • X2 px
  • Y4 px
  • Blur6 px 
  • Color#000000
  • Alpha50%
Side exhaust background inner shadowSide exhaust background inner shadowSide exhaust background inner shadow

Step 4

Then Shadow:

  • X-1 px
  • Y-1 px
  • Blur1 px 
  • Color#000000
  • Alpha50%
Side exhaust background shadowSide exhaust background shadowSide exhaust background shadow

Step 5

And apply one more Shadow:

  • X1 px
  • Y1 px
  • Blur1 px 
  • Color#FFFFFF
  • Alpha10%
Side exhaust background second shadowSide exhaust background second shadowSide exhaust background second shadow

Step 6

Draw a circle using the Oval (O) tool. The color is #262626. Set the Borders position to Outside, Color to #FFFFFF, and Thickness to 1 px.

Create side exhaust shapeCreate side exhaust shapeCreate side exhaust shape

Step 7

Click on the Borders Color and switch it to Linear Gradient. For the color stops, use:

  • 1 - Color#CED0CFAlpha100% 
  • 2 - Color#777777Alpha100%
Side exhaust shape border gradientSide exhaust shape border gradientSide exhaust shape border gradient

Step 8

Give this circle an Inner Shadow with the following settings:

  • X3 px
  • Y2 px
  • Blur3 px 
  • Color#000000
  • Alpha75%
Side exhaust shape inner shadowSide exhaust shape inner shadowSide exhaust shape inner shadow

Step 9

Duplicate (Command-D) this circle 5 more times and position them as shown in the image below.

Side exhaust finishedSide exhaust finishedSide exhaust finished

Select all the shapes created in this step and Group (Command-G) them into "side exhaust".

12. Create the Back Exhaust

Step 1

Using the Vector (V) tool, draw a back exhaust shape. Color this shape with #3C3544.

Draw back exhaust shapeDraw back exhaust shapeDraw back exhaust shape

Step 2

Draw a rectangle over the exhaust shape using the Rectangle (R) tool. For the color, use #5B5366.

Back exhaust highlightBack exhaust highlightBack exhaust highlight

Step 3

Then draw another one, but this time use #B6B6B6 for the color.

Back exhaust detailBack exhaust detailBack exhaust detail

Step 4

Select the exhaust shape and both rectangles and apply a Mask operation from the top toolbar menu. Sketch will automatically put the result inside a group. Name this group "back exhaust".

Back exhaust shape finishedBack exhaust shape finishedBack exhaust shape finished

Step 5

Let's finish this by adding exhaust gas. Pick up the Rectangle (R) tool and draw a grey (#D8D8D8) rectangle.

Back exhaust gas shapeBack exhaust gas shapeBack exhaust gas shape

Step 6

Under the Fill, switch to Linear Gradient and use the following values for the color stops:

  • 1 - Color#BFE1E0Alpha100% 
  • 2 - Color#BFE0E0Alpha50%
Back exhaust gas gradientBack exhaust gas gradientBack exhaust gas gradient

Step 7

Finally, move this rectangle inside and at the bottom of the "back exhaust" group in the Layers List.

Back exhaust gas finishedBack exhaust gas finishedBack exhaust gas finished

13. Draw the Steering Wheel

Step 1

Using the Vector (V) tool, draw a steering wheel. For the color, use #2D2628. Name this shape "steering wheel".

Steering wheel shapeSteering wheel shapeSteering wheel shape

Step 2

Place "steering wheel" below the "body" group in the Layers List on the left.

Steering wheel finishedSteering wheel finishedSteering wheel finished

14. Create the Driver's Seat

Step 1

Pick up the Vector (V) tool and draw the shape of the driver's seat as shown in the image below. Set the color to #212121.

Create driver seat shapeCreate driver seat shapeCreate driver seat shape

Step 2

Then, using the Vector (V) tool, create another shape over the seat shape. For this shape, use #979797.

Add detail to driver seatAdd detail to driver seatAdd detail to driver seat

Step 3

Select both shapes and apply the Mask operation from the top toolbar. Name this group "seat".

Driver seat masking operationDriver seat masking operationDriver seat masking operation

Step 4

Move "seat" also below the "body" group in the Layers List on the left.

Driver seat finishedDriver seat finishedDriver seat finished

15. Add Final Details

Step 1

First, using the Vector (V) tool, draw two triangles.

  • 1 - Color#CA181FAlpha100% 
  • 2 - Color#A60D19Alpha100%
Final hovercar details - trianglesFinal hovercar details - trianglesFinal hovercar details - triangles

Step 2

Second, let's add a number to the hovercar. Grab the Oval (O) tool and draw a white (#FFFFFF) circle over the back side of the hovercar.

Create race number backgroundCreate race number backgroundCreate race number background

Step 3

Duplicate (Command-D) the circle, scale it down a bit, turn off Fill, and set the Border Color to #3A3A3A, Position to Center, and Thickness to 2 px.

Race number inner circleRace number inner circleRace number inner circle

Step 4

Finally, add the racing number. I’m using the Noto Sans free font, setting the Weight to Bold, Font Size to 50 px, and the Color to #181818 in the Inspector Panel.

Race number add numberRace number add numberRace number add number

Select both circles and the number and place them inside the group using Command-G. Give this group the name "number".

Step 5

The last detail we're going to add is a wing mirror. Again, invoke the Vector (V) tool and draw a wing mirror. Set the color to #C1181F.

Create wing mirror basic shapeCreate wing mirror basic shapeCreate wing mirror basic shape

Step 6

Add a Shadow using the Inspector Panel. The values are:

  • X0 px
  • Y1 px
  • Blur0 px 
  • Color#000000
  • Alpha30%
Wing mirror shadowWing mirror shadowWing mirror shadow

Step 7

Next, draw two rectangles over the mirror shape to create highlights. Use these colors for the rectangles:

  • 1 - Color#DA1C23
  • 2 - Color#F13238
Draw a wing mirror highlightsDraw a wing mirror highlightsDraw a wing mirror highlights

Step 8

Select the rectangles and the mirror shape and then choose Mask in the top toolbar. Rename the resulting group to "wing mirror".

Wing mirror finishedWing mirror finishedWing mirror finished

Step 9

Our hovercar is now finished, and this what we have right now.

Hovercar finishedHovercar finishedHovercar finished

Step 10

Pick up the Oval (O) tool and draw an ellipse to create a shadow below the hovercar. Use #000000 color.

Draw a shadow below hovercarDraw a shadow below hovercarDraw a shadow below hovercar

Step 11

Set Blending to Multiply, Opacity to 10%, and give it a Gaussian Blur with the Amount of 2 px.

Hovercar shadow finishedHovercar shadow finishedHovercar shadow finished

16. Draw the Driver

Step 1

Grab the Vector (V) tool and draw the driver's silhouette. We'll only draw the part that is going to be visible in our illustration. Color it with #E7AC88.

Draw a driver silhouetteDraw a driver silhouetteDraw a driver silhouette

Step 2

Let's create the driver's suit. Again, using the Vector (V) tool, roughly draw a shape over the silhouette. It doesn't have to be perfect since we're going to use a mask operation to keep it in place. I'm using #F1DCB6 color for the suit. 

Draw a drivers suit shapeDraw a drivers suit shapeDraw a drivers suit shape

Step 3

Select both shapes in the Layers List and perform a Mask operation from the top toolbar. As you can remember, the result is automatically placed inside a group. Rename this group "silhouette".

Drivers suit finishedDrivers suit finishedDrivers suit finished

Step 4

Let's add some creases and shadows to the driver's suit. Make sure you're inside the "silhouette" group, pick up the Vector (V) tool, and draw two shapes as shown in the image below. Use #D5957A for the color.

Add creases and shadows to a driver suitAdd creases and shadows to a driver suitAdd creases and shadows to a driver suit

Step 5

Next, draw a shape over the hand to create a glove. Color the glove with #1A5E4F.

Create a gloveCreate a gloveCreate a glove

Step 6

Let's move on. Above the "silhouette" group, draw a helmet shape using the mighty Vector (V) tool. Color the helmet with the same dark green color that we used for the gloves.

Draw a driver helmetDraw a driver helmetDraw a driver helmet

Step 7

Draw a small ellipse to create some shine. Use #FFFFFF for the color and set the Opacity to 80%.

Add shine to the helmetAdd shine to the helmetAdd shine to the helmet

Keep things clean and tidy and group the helmet shape and shine into the "helmet" group.

Step 8

Now let's create goggles. One more time, we'll use the Vector (V) tool. I'm using #FFBB6E color for the goggles.

Draw goggles shapeDraw goggles shapeDraw goggles shape

Step 9

Give the goggles a light Shadow with the following settings:

  • X0 px
  • Y1 px
  • Blur0 px 
  • Color#000000
  • Alpha10%
Apply shadow to gogglesApply shadow to gogglesApply shadow to goggles

Step 10

Then, again using the Vector (V) tool, draw a lens shape. Use #363636 for the lens color.

Add lens to gogglesAdd lens to gogglesAdd lens to goggles

Step 11

Add an Inner Shadow from the Inspector Panel. Use the following settings:

  • X1 px
  • Y2 px
  • Blur3 px 
  • Color#000000
  • Alpha50%
Apply inner shadow to lensApply inner shadow to lensApply inner shadow to lens

Place the goggles shape and lens into the "goggles" group.

Step 12

Use the Vector (V) tool to outline the scarf. Fill the shape with #FFBB6E color.

Draw a scarf shapeDraw a scarf shapeDraw a scarf shape

Step 13

Create stripes using the Vector (V) tool. Set the color of the stripes to #ED5701.

Add stripes to the scarfAdd stripes to the scarfAdd stripes to the scarf

Step 14

Select the scarf shape and stripes and click on Mask in the top toolbar. Name the resulting layer "scarf".

Scarf finishedScarf finishedScarf finished

Step 15

Select all the groups that we used to create the driver and group them into the "driver" group using Command-G.

In the Layers List, place the "driver" group above the "steering wheel" shape and below the "seat" group.

Driver finishedDriver finishedDriver finished

17. Create a "Racer" Group

This is where our proper naming and grouping comes in handy. Select all the groups and shapes that form our hovercar, along with the "driver" group, and place them all into a new "racer" group.

Create a racer groupCreate a racer groupCreate a racer group

18. Add Another "Racer"

Step 1

Duplicate (Command-D) the "racer" group to add another racer to our illustration. Quickly change the colors of the hovercar and the driver's equipment, and also change the number on the hovercar. Rename this group to something like "second racer". Use the image shown below as a guide.

Add second racerAdd second racerAdd second racer

Step 2

Scale it down, and then rotate it using Scale and Rotate from the top toolbar, and position it as shown in the image below.

Scaling and positioning second racerScaling and positioning second racerScaling and positioning second racer

Step 3

Finally, lower the Opacity to 90%, and move it below our original racer in the Layers List.

Second racer finishedSecond racer finishedSecond racer finished

19. Create Speed Trails

Step 1

To create a sense of high speed, we'll add speed trails. So grab the Rectangle (R) tool and draw a rectangle. Change Fill to Linear Gradient and use these values:

  • 1 - Color#D9B6A0Alpha30% 
  • 2 - Color#88AEC0Alpha30%
Create first speed trailCreate first speed trailCreate first speed trail

Step 2

Add another rectangle, but this time use a Linear Gradient with these settings:

  • 1 - Color#D9B6A0Alpha60% 
  • 2 - Color#BFDEDCAlpha60%
Create second speed trailCreate second speed trailCreate second speed trail

Make sure that the rectangles overlap each other.

Step 3

Then add one more rectangle. Use these settings for the Linear Gradient:

  • 1 - Color#BFE1E0Alpha60% 
  • 2 - Color#BFE0E0Alpha25%
Create third speed trailCreate third speed trailCreate third speed trail

Step 4

Finally add the last rectangle, and for this one use the following values for Linear Gradient:

  • 1 - Color#C6E6E5Alpha60% 
  • 2 - Color#BFE0E0Alpha25%
Create fourth speed trailCreate fourth speed trailCreate fourth speed trail

Step 5

Select them all, place them inside the group "speed trails", and move them below "racer" and above "second racer" in the Layers List.

Speed trails finishedSpeed trails finishedSpeed trails finished

Step 6

Let's take a look at the final result.

Futuristic racing illustration finishedFuturistic racing illustration finishedFuturistic racing illustration finished

Voila! You're Done!

Your retro-futuristic illustration is now complete! I hope you had a great time working on it and learned some new tips and tricks. 

Now, try making your own version of a retro-futuristic race scene, and share what you've created in the comments below!

Thank you for your time!

Futuristic racing illustration finalFuturistic racing illustration finalFuturistic racing illustration final
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