Add a vintage style to your illustrations by learning how to create vintage texture brushes in Adobe Illustrator.
What you will learn in this Adobe Illustrator brush tutorial:
- How to create a New Document in Illustrator
- How to create an Art Brush in Illustrator
- How to create a Pattern Brush in Illustrator
- How to add a vintage texture to an illustration with brushes
- How to desaturate colors in Illustrator
To complete the tutorial, you will need the following assets:
1. How to Open a New Document
Launch Illustrator and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a name for your file, set up the dimensions, and then select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode.
Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px and while there, go to Units to make sure they are set as in the following image. I usually work with these settings, and they will help you throughout the drawing process.
2. How to Create a Vintage Art Brush in Adobe Illustrator
Learning how to make a brush in Illustrator can be an easy process, especially for an Art Brush, and this is one of those cases. Grab the Line Segment Tool (\) and draw a line on your artboard that's 156 px in length. Give it a 9 pt Stroke and press the Round Cap option in the Stroke panel to get the rounded ends.
Next, go to Object > Expand to turn the stroke into a filled shape.
Now, we need to distort this shape a little. Use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add extra points along the path in the areas indicated. After that, move these points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) to modify the shape. The aim is to get a thinner shape in the middle area and a sharper tip.
Continue to distort the right end of this shape and make it look less perfectly rounded. Once you are done, color the shape with off black.
Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a short path at one end of the black shape. Give it a 6 pt Stroke using the Width Profile 4, and select the Round Cap option in the Stroke panel.
Continue to draw similar paths along the shape and apply the same settings. I would not recommend making copies of the first one because they need to be slightly different. The end result of your vintage brush will be more accurate.
Select all the spikes and go to Object > Expand Appearance to turn them into shapes. Color them with the same off black, and now we are ready to save the brush in Illustrator.
Select all the shapes and drag them into the Brushes panel to be saved as a New Art Brush. Type “Vintage Art Brush” as the name, select Tints as the Colorization Method, and then hit OK. Easy, right?
3. How to Create a Vintage Pattern Brush
Grab the Line Segment Tool (\) again, and draw a path on your artboard at 45 degrees with a length of 64 px. Give it a 3 pt Stroke using any color for the moment. While this path stays selected, go to Object > Transform > Move and type 260 px in the Horizontal field. Hit Copy and you will get a second path to the right.
Keep both paths selected and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Choose 15 Specified Steps and then go back to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B).
Next, go to Object > Expand twice in order to expand the blend and to turn the stroked lines into shapes. Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) all the resulting stripes.
While all the stripes stay selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen and apply the settings shown, followed by Object > Expand Appearance to expand this effect.
While all the stripes stay selected, go to File > Scripts > Round Any Corner and apply a Radius of 1 in order to get more rounded edges all around.
Round Any Corner is a great script and useful in many situations. Go to 20 Free and Useful Adobe Illustrator Scripts, follow the instructions to install it in Illustrator, and after that, you will always find it in File > Scripts ready to be used.
Now, we are going to modify the stripes quite a bit to give them that vintage look, and here is how to do it. Zoom in on one of the stripes and grab the Eraser Tool (Shift-E). Start to delete a portion at the top and make the stripe a little shorter.
Do the same thing for some other stripes, making them shorter at the top. Focus more on the center area of the brush and leave the stripes at the ends as they are (1).
Now, let's repeat this process at the bottom and use the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) again to delete portions of the stripes, as shown in the image below (2). Take your time and remember that you don't have to be too precise as we are trying to obtain a vintage look.
How to save a brush in Illustrator can be tricky sometimes, especially when it comes to Pattern Brushes. Let me guide you through the process and learn how to save a brush correctly.
Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle starting from the bottom end of the first stripe up to the top end. Make sure that the entire first stripe is inside the rectangle, and it should go over the next two stripes as well, but this is okay (1).
Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the rectangle and move the copy to the end of the brush whilst holding the Shift key to make sure they stay horizontally aligned. Make the width of this shape smaller in order to cover only the top portion of the last two stripes (2).
Finally, draw another rectangle between them to cover the rest of the stripes (3).
Select all the stripes and Group (Control-G) them. Make two copies in front of the group because you need one for each of the three rectangles.
Now, select one group of stripes along with the first rectangle, and press Crop in the Pathfinder panel. This will cut that section, and you will get the Start Tile of the Pattern Brush (1). Drag it into the Swatches panel to save it.
Select a copy of the stripes group along with the middle rectangle and press Crop in the Pathfinder panel again. This will cut that section, and you will obtain the Side Tile of the Pattern Brush (2).
Select the second copy of the stripes group along with the third rectangle and press Crop again. You will obtain the End Tile of the Pattern Brush (3). Drag it into the Swatches panel to save it.
Select the middle section and drag it into the Brushes panel to save it as a New Pattern Brush. Type “Vintage Pattern Brush 1” and notice that the middle section already appears under the Side Tile (1).
As the Start Tile (2), select the New Pattern Swatch 1 from the drop-down options, which is the first section saved in the Swatches panel.
As the End Tile (3), select New Pattern Swatch 2 from the drop-down options, which is the last section saved in the Swatches panel.
Finally, under Inner Corner Tile (4), select Auto-Sliced and set the Colorization Method to Tints. Hit OK and your new Illustrator brush is now saved and ready to use.
Following the technique explained in this section of the tutorial, you can create a bigger pattern brush with more details. It may look the same as the one we just saved, but the fact that this one has more stripes and more areas deleted with the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) will create a different vintage brush stroke. It is definitely worth the effort to make it, and you will use it in future projects as well.
Follow the same steps and, once done, save it as “Vintage Pattern Brush 2”.
4. How to Use a Vintage Brush to Add Texture in Illustrator
Now that we have saved both brushes, Illustrator will display them in the Brushes panel, and they are ready to be used. To demonstrate, I am going to use this set of Berry Badges from Envato Elements. Open the vector file, and let's focus on the cherries for the moment.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a straight path along the middle of the leaf but a little inclined (1). Stroke this path with the Vintage Art Brush, which is the first brush we have created. Increase the Stroke Weight to 2 pt and set the Blending Mode to Multiply to give it a jet black color (2). You can also use other stroke colors, and the brush will automatically change color as well.
We need the spikes of the brush to go outwards and upwards, so open the Stroke Options window from the Appearance panel to see the settings. Check Flip Along and Flip Across and then hit OK (3).
The leaf of the cherry is made of two separate shapes. Select the top half and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it in front of everything (1). Keep this copy selected along with the stroked path and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). As a result, the vintage brush will only be visible and add details on that part of the leaf (2).
Next, draw a similar path on the bottom half of the leaf (1). Stroke it with the Vintage Art Brush again and increase the Stroke Weight to 2 pt. This time, choose white as the stroke color and set the Blending Mode to Soft Light (2).
Next, select the bottom half shape of the leaf and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it in front of everything. Keep it selected along with the stroked path and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7).
Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a straight path along the middle of the leaf; then give it a 6 pt Stroke using Width Profile 5 in the Stroke panel (1).
Select the two half shapes of the leaf and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make copies of them. Press Unite in the Pathfinder panel to merge them into a single shape (2).
Keep the newly obtained leaf shape selected along with the middle path and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). This will define the midrib of the leaf and contribute to the vintage look (3).
Let's add a simple highlight on the leaf. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a curved path along the edge of the leaf; then give it a 5 pt Stroke using the Width Profile 1 in the Stroke panel. Set the stroke color to light green.
At this point, we are done with the details on this leaf. Use the techniques explained to transform the right leaf in the same way. The settings remain the same.
5. How to Use a Vintage Brush to Add Shading in Illustrator
Focus on the lower left side of the cherry and draw a curved path using the Pen Tool (P) (1). Stroke it with the Vintage Pattern Brush 2 and increase the Stroke Weight at 2 pt. You will get a nice vintage shading texture (2).
Here is how to create a criss-cross texture quickly. There is no need to use other Illustrator texture brushes or make a separate new brush. All you need is a simple trick.
Keep the path selected and go to the Appearance panel. Press Add New Stroke and you will get a second Stroke attribute above the first. Use the same Vintage Pattern Brush 2 but keep the Stroke Weight at 1 pt. Double-click on this Stroke attribute to open the Stroke Options window, and check Flip Along and Add space to fit. Hit OK, and the cross-hatching is done (3).
Select all the shapes that make up the cherry and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make copies of them. Press Unite in the Pathfinder panel to merge them into a single shape (1).
Keep the newly obtained cherry shape selected, along with the stroked path, and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7) (2). Once done, apply the same technique to create the same vintage shading look on the other cherry (3).
Zoom in on the cherry and draw an oval shape with the Pen Tool (P) or the Ellipse Tool (L), as shown in the image below (1). Stroke it with the Vintage Art Brush and reduce the Stroke Weight to 0.5 pt. This will create another style of vintage shading at the base of the stem (2).
Do the same thing for the other cherry.
6. How to Use a Vintage Brush to Add Highlights in Illustrator
First, select and delete the two existing ellipses that are adding highlights to the cherry because we will create a new one in a vintage style (1).
Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a slightly curved path on the right side; then stroke it with the Vintage Pattern Brush 1, set the Stroke Weight to 0.75 pt, and reduce the Opacity to 70% (2).
Do the same thing for the other cherry, and you can see what the cherries look like at this point in the image below.
7. How to Enhance the Vintage Look With Strokes in Illustrator
Select the two shapes that make up each leaf and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make copies of them. Press Unite in the Pathfinder panel and you will get two new leaf shapes. Apply a 4 pt black Stroke.
Repeat the same thing for the cherries, and once you get the two new cherry shapes, give them a 4 pt black Stroke as well.
Now, select the stem shape along with the small end piece at the top, and apply a 4 pt black Stroke using Width Profile 2 in the Stroke panel.
These simple strokes really make a difference to our design and improve the overall vintage look of the badge.
8. How to Use a Vintage Brush to Create Shadow in Adobe Illustrator
Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a curved path at the bottom of the badge, behind the cherries. Stroke it with the Vintage Pattern Brush 2 and set the Stroke Weight to 3 pt (1).
Add a New Stroke in the Appearance panel above the first, and use the same brush but set the Stroke Weight to 2 pt. Open the Stroke Options window, check Flip Along and Add space to fit, and then hit OK. This will create the cross-hatching look, as you did before (2).
Set this path to Blending Mode Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to 50%. Make a copy of the badge circle and use it to mask this path to get a clean design (3).
As a final step, select the badge circle and, along with the existing light-blue fill color, also apply a 4 pt black Outside Stroke in order to maintain the same style. At this point, the cherry badge is done.
9. How to Refine Your Icons
Practice is the key, so continue to use and apply these Adobe Illustrator brushes for another badge in the set. Let's focus on the blueberry badge.
Here is a sequence of images that can guide you through the same process again. Use the same settings as before, and always mask the stroked paths to get a clean design.
As an extra detail on the blueberries, use the Pen Tool (P) to draw three short paths right between the two shapes that make up each blueberry. Give them a 4 pt Stroke using black and Width Profile 4 in the Stroke panel (1).
Continue to add the vintage style highlights, as you did for the cherries (2).
You're almost done! It's time to use the Vintage Pattern Brush to create the shadow behind the berries (1) and complete the design with a 4 pt black Stroke applied to the badge circle. Press Align Stroke to Outside in the Stroke panel to make it fully visible (2).
Bring back the purple background from the original file, and let's add a shadow to make the badges stand out. Select the two badge circles and, along with the existing appearances, also apply a Drop Shadow effect by going to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Use the settings shown in the image below and hit OK.
10. How to Desaturate a Vector Illustration in Adobe Illustrator
The new vintage badges that we have created are beautiful as they are, but if you want to go one step further and obtain that specific faded vintage look, here is how to do it fast. You can also apply this technique to any other illustrations that you have.
Select the background rectangle or draw a new one the same size as your artboard. This shape should be in front of the illustration, so go to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Shift-Control-]) to make sure it is. Color the rectangle with pale gray and, after that, set the Blending Mode to Saturation. Done!
Tip: Choose a darker shade of gray to obtain a cool black and white look.
Congratulations! You're Done
Illustrator texture brushes and all kinds of other brushes are always fun to use because you can obtain a unique look and put your personal touch into a design or illustration. Now you have the knowledge to create a vintage look using brushes in Illustrator, so continue to apply them in future projects.
Expand your brushes library by going to GraphicRiver, where you'll find a great selection of brushes and textures in various styles, shapes, and themes. Also, check out the vector icons and illustrations, where you will find plenty of resources ready to be used along with these Illustrator brushes.
Expand Your Adobe Illustrator Skills!
Don't stop here! Continue drawing to expand your skills and learn many more useful techniques. Here is a list of recommended tutorials that can help you achieve this goal:
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