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Design

How to Create a Retro Poster With an Astronaut Child in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Science Week.
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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial you will learn how to create an astronomy-inspired retro poster. We will use the Clipping Mask a lot, as well as Warp Effects, and at the end we will apply a texture to add a vintage look to our poster. Feel free to browse a big collection of textures on GraphicRiver, and choose the one you like the most.

Without any further ado, let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Create the Head of the Astronomy Child

Step 1

In a new document in Adobe Illustrator, take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an ellipse. You'll probably have a white fill color and a black stroke. Now you need to change it: delete the stroke color and set its fill color to R=234, G=226, B=206 on the Color panel (Window > Color). During this tutorial, we won't use any stroke colors.

Then, add a smaller, darker ellipse (R=209, G=196, B=167) inside the first one.

While keeping that last ellipse selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path... A new dialogue window will pop up, where you need to enter Offset -8 px. By default, the options will be Joints: Miter, Miter limit: 4. Press OK. You just created a third ellipse, which is the face of the child. Change its fill color to R=178, G=131, B=107.

how to create the head

Step 2

To create some bangs, we'll take the Rectangle Tool (M). Draw a brown rectangle (R=99, G=64, B=55) and while keeping it selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arch. Enter the options presented below, and press OK.

Expand this shape: Object > Expand Appearance.

how to create the bang

Step 3

Put the bangs on the child's face. Place them so that just the bottom part is on the face, and the upper part (the two top anchor points) will be beyond the face.

Then we will use the Clipping Mask. Select the face, make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F), cut that new copy off (Control-X), and place it over the bangs (Control-F).

To see the bangs more clearly under the newer face copy, it is better to delete the fill color of the face copy and use any stroke color (I marked it with red stroke).

Select the face copy (in my case it's the red stroke ellipse) together with the bangs. Go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). Then the upper part of the bangs should be hidden.

how to create the clipping mask for the bang

Step 4

For the eyes, make sure you have the same fill color as the bangs but without any stroke. Hit the Ellipse Tool (L) and, while holding down the Shift key, draw a small circle for the eye.

Create another small circle as the second eye. Make the second eye smaller, as we're trying to create three-quarters of the visible face.

Now for the cheeks. Add a new small ellipse under the first eye (the fill color should be R=160, G=108, B=85).

Create a same ellipse for the second cheek. Rotate it slightly to the right, and make it a bit smaller.

how to create the face

Step 5

Now for the mouth. Set the fill color to R=234, G=226, B=206 and create two ellipses: first a vertical one, and then a horizontal one. They have to overlap as shown in the image below.

Go to the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and press the Minus Front button while the two ellipses are selected. You'll end up with a crescent shape, which is the mouth of the child.

how to create the mouth

Place the mouth between the two cheeks. Rotate it slightly to the right.

how to place the mouth

Step 6

The helmets of spacesuits usually have parts that look like headphones, so let's create them. Draw an ellipse on the left side of the head. The fill color should be R=209, G=196, B=167. Also rotate it a little to the left.

Add a smaller red (R=211, G=122, B=95) ellipse, which should also be rotated to the left.

Then add one more grey ellipse on other side of the child's head, behind the head. Finally, add one more red ellipse behind the head, and behind the grey ellipse. The head is done!

how to create the headphones

2. How to Create the Body, Arms, and Legs

Step 1

Let's make the body. Take the Rounded Rectangle Tool and draw a rounded rectangle (R=234, G=226, B=206). While keeping it selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arc. In the new dialogue window, enter the options you see below. 

how to create the body

Put the body behind the head.

how to place the body

Step 2

Now for the arm. Using the same fill color as for the body, draw an ellipse with the help of the Ellipse Tool (L). Go to Effect > Warp > Arc. You can see the options below.

After that, expand it (Object > Expand Appearance).

how to create the arm

Step 3

Place the arm on the left side of the body.

Add a tiny ellipse as the thumb. In the image below it is marked by a black stroke color, which you don't need in your illustration.

Make a copy of the whole arm, change its fill color to R=209, G=196, B=167, and create a vertical reflection of this new copy: while keeping it selected, press the O key on your keyboard and then press Enter

In the new dialogue window, Axis Vertical is checked by default. Press Enter one more time. This maneuver should make a vertical reflection of the second arm. Remember this for your future projects: select the object you want to reflect, press the O key and then Enter twice, and that's it.

Place the second arm behind the body (Control-X, Control-B).

how to create another arm

Step 4

Let's make the belt for the spacesuit. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a rectangle. Then warp it: Effect > Warp > Arch.

Expand the shape.

how to create the belt

Place the belt in the right place.

how to place the belt

Step 5

We're going to create the leg in a similar way to the arm, but this time create an ellipse which should be slightly bigger and thicker.

Warp the ellipse (Effect > Warp > Arc), and then expand it.

how to create the leg

Step 6

Place the leg under the belt.

Make a copy of the belt, and change its fill color: using the Eyedropper Tool (I), take the color from the second arm and place it on the leg.

Add a small ellipse as shown below for the kneecap.

how to create the kneecap

Step 7

Now on to the foot. Create a new ellipse, which should have the same fill color as the body.

Add a rectangle with any color. The rectangle must cover the bottom part of the ellipse.

Select both shapes and, on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), press the Minus Front button. You'll end up with the top part of the ellipse.

how to create the foot

Step 8

Place the foot on the leg.

Create a new copy of the whole leg, and make it darker: the fill color for the second leg should be R=209, G=196, B=167, and the fill color for the new kneecap should follow these numbers: R=191, G=171, B=130.

Place the second leg behind the body.

Group the child (right-click > Group) and set the illustration aside.

how to create another leg

3. How to Create the Background

Step 1

Hit the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard. In the new dialogue window, enter Width 850 px and Height 1000 px. Set the fill color to R=231, G=220, B=186.

how to create the background

Step 2

While keeping the rectangle selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path... In the new dialogue window, enter Offset: -30 px, Joints: Miter, Miter limit: 4, OK. You'll get a new rectangle aligned perfectly in the middle of the previous one. Change its fill color to R=67, G=74, B=81.

how to create the inside background

Step 3

Hit the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a circle (it doesn't have to be perfect) as shown in the image below. Just the upper part of the circle should overlap the background. Change its fill color to R=209, G=196, B=167. This will be the moon.

how to create the clipping mask for the moon

Step 4

Now we'll use a clipping mask again: select the dark blue rectangle, and make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Cut it (Control-X) and place it in front of everything (Control-F). Select the dark blue rectangle and the planet, as well as the new copy. Go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7).

how the background should look after the clipping mask

Step 5

Place the astronomy child on your poster.

how to place the child on the background

Step 6

Let's add some craters, so that it will look more like a moon! Start with a horizontal ellipse (R=234, G=226, B=206).

Add a second ellipse over the previous one (R=191, G=171, B=130).

And add a third ellipse, which should overlap the previous one (R=209, G=196, B=167).

Make the Clipping Mask (Control-7) so the third ellipse will be inside the second one. This will be the crater.

how to create the crater

Place a few craters on the planet. Feel free to rotate them and resize them.

how to spread the craters

Step 7

It would be nice to have some stars in the sky, so let's create them. Take the Star Tool and click on your artboard. Enter Radius 1: around 10 px, Radius 2: around 50 px, Points: 4. Set the fill color to R=234 G=226, B=206.

Create a copy of this star in front (Control-C, Control-F) and, while holding down the Shift key, rotate it 45 degrees. The Shift key allows you to rotate it exactly 45 degrees.

how to create the star

Spread the stars in the sky.

how to spread the stars

Step 8

If you would like to, you can add some tiny circles near the stars with red, yellow and the light grey color we used for the stars. The circles will add a sparkling effect.

how to create the sparkling effect

Step 9

To add an old look to our poster, let's apply a texture to it. I used one of these textures:

the texture for an old effect

Step 10

Place the texture over your poster so that it will stay inside the texture and under it. Make a Clipping Mask for the texture.

Finally, on the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency), lower the Opacity to around 15%. And we are done!

how to create the for the texture

Conclusion

Great job! Today you've learned how to make Clipping Masks, which will help you in your future projects. I hope you like this tutorial and learned a lot of stuff—or maybe you just polished your skills. Now you know how to use Adobe Illustrator as well as a lot of effects and tools. 

final
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