Unlimited PS Actions, graphics, videos & courses! Unlimited asset downloads! From $16.50/m
Advertisement
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Illustrator

How to Create a Vintage Cartoon Aesthetic Character

by
Read Time:20 minsLanguages:
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following tutorial, you'll learn how to create a vintage cartoon aesthetic character in Illustrator.

First, you will learn how to create an art brush which will be used to create the outline of your retro illustration. Using basic vector shape-building techniques along with some warp effects, you will learn how to create the main components of this old-style illustration.

Finally, you will learn how to create the classic glove designs and how to add them to your vintage cartoon art.

If you don't have the time to learn how to create black and white cartoon characters, you can always try Envato Elements, where you will find a massive collection of retro drawings and aesthetic cartoons to choose from. This set of vintage-style illustrations is just one of the many examples.

vintage style illustrationvintage style illustrationvintage style illustration

Do you prefer video tutorials instead? Then you've got to check out the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel. Watch this new video to learn how to create old cartoon aesthetic designs in Illustrator:

What You'll Learn in This Vintage Cartoon Aesthetic Tutorial

  • How to put together a 30s cartoon art style
  • How to create black and white cartoon characters
  • How to create a vintage cartoon aesthetic character

What You'll Need

You will need the following resource in order to complete this old cartoon aesthetic design:

1930s Cartoon Style

For this design we'll use a classic black and white outline, circular eyes and pupils, and of course the gloves.

You can keep it black and white if you wish to maintain that 1930s cartoon style, but as this design is inspired by the Three Little Pigs animated short, we'll bring the design a bit closer to the original one by using colors.

1930 cartoon style1930 cartoon style1930 cartoon style

A 30s cartoon art style can't be complete without the archetypal glove designs.

These were mostly used by cartoonists to save time. In other cases the gloves provided a much-needed color contrast, especially in the black and white era of cartoons. Last, but not least, the gloves were used to give human traits to non-human characters, which made it much easier to emphasize gestures and movements.

30s cartoon art style30s cartoon art style30s cartoon art style

1. How to Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, set the Width and Height to 850 px, and then click that Advanced Options button. Select RGB for the Color Mode and set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click the Create button.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid or Control-") and Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid or Shift-Control-"). You will need a grid every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.

You can learn more about Illustrator's grid system in this short tutorial by Andrei Stefan:

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don't forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units. All these options will significantly increase your work speed. Now that you're set, let's start work on this vintage cartoon art.

new documentnew documentnew document

2. How to Create the Head for This Retro Illustration

Step 1

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) from your toolbar, and then focus on the color settings. Select the stroke and remove the color, and then double-click the fill and set it to black (R=0 G=0 B=0).

Move to your artboard and simply click on it to open the Ellipse window. Set the Width to 10 px and the Height to 2 px, and then click the OK button to create the new shape.

ellipseellipseellipse

Step 2

Go to the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes), open the fly-out menu, and go to Select All Unused. This will select all your unused brushes, which you can easily remove using the Delete Brush button from the bottom of the panel. It's a pretty quick move that you can perform to clean up the Brushes panel.

Now, select that black ellipse and click the New Brush button. Check the Art Brush box and click OK to open the Art Brush Options window. Keep the default settings and click OK to add your art brush to the Brushes panel.

art brushart brushart brush

Step 3

Reselect the Ellipse Tool (L) and hold down the Shift key as you click and drag to easily create a 170 px circle. Or simply click on your artboard to open that Ellipse window.

Fill your circle with R=255 G=179 B=117 and then focus on the control panel. Make sure that the Alignment is set to Artboard and then click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons to easily move your shape to the center of the artboard.

Keep your circle selected and go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. Enter the settings shown below (left window) and click OK, and then go to Effect > Warp > Shell Lower. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and click OK, and then go again to Effect > Warp > Bulge. This time, enter the settings shown in the right window. Click OK and then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

ellipse warpellipse warpellipse warp

Step 4

Make sure that your shape is still selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the stroke and just apply your art brush from the Brushes panel.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and use it to select the top anchor point (highlighted in the first image). Move to the control panel and click the Cut Path button to adjust the starting and ending points for the applied brush.

cut pathcut pathcut path

3. How to Create the Mouth

Step 1

Reselect the Ellipse Tool (L) and use it to create a 40 x 45 px shape.

Fill it with black and place it as shown in the following image, and then go to Effect > Warp > Fish. Enter the settings shown below and click OK, and then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

ellipse warp mouthellipse warp mouthellipse warp mouth

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create two 40 x 30 px shapes. Fill both of these shapes with R=228 G=93 B=89 and place them as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Selection Tool (V), hold down the Shift key to select both of these shapes, and merge them using the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder).

ellipse unite pathfinderellipse unite pathfinderellipse unite pathfinder

Step 3

Reselect the mouth shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset to -2 px and click OK.

Select the newly created shape, along with the red one, and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.

intersect pathfinderintersect pathfinderintersect pathfinder

Step 4

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 40 x 30 px shape and place it as shown in the first image.

Remove the fill color for this shape, select the stroke and apply your art brush, and then go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points twice.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), hold down the Shift key to select all the anchor points highlighted in the second image, and press the Delete key to remove them.

add anchor pointadd anchor pointadd anchor point

4. How to Create the Eyes and Nose

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create two 20 x 35 px shapes and place them as shown in the first image. Fill both these shapes with white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and apply your scatter brush.

Keep focusing on these ellipses and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor points and simply press the Cut Path button from the control panel.

Reselect the Ellipse Tool (A), create two 10 x 20 px ellipses, fill both shapes with black, and place them as shown in the second image.

ellipse eyeellipse eyeellipse eye

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 50 x 45 px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Fill it with R=255 G=179 B=117 and apply your scatter brush to the stroke.

Continue with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the right anchor point to delete it, and then select the bottom anchor point and move it 5 px down and 10 px to the right.

Switch to the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), click that bottom anchor point, and drag the handles 30 px to the left, as shown in the final image.

ellipse cheekellipse cheekellipse cheek

Step 3

Make sure that the path made in the previous step is still selected and press Control-C > Control-F to add a copy in front.

Keep this copy selected and use the Reflect Tool (O) to flip it horizontally. Switch to the Selection Tool (V) and use it to move your flipped copy as shown in the following image.

ellipse cheekellipse cheekellipse cheek

Step 4

Reselect the Ellipse Tool (L) and use it to create a 50 x 45 px shape. Fill it with R=238 G=93 B=89, place it as shown in the first image, and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the settings shown below and click OK, and then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

nose shapenose shapenose shape

Step 5

Apply your art brush for this nose shape and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the top anchor point and cut the path.

cut pathcut pathcut path

Step 6

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create two 5 x 10 px shapes and place them as shown in the first image. Apply your scatter brush for both of these shapes and remove the fill color.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top anchor points, and just press the Cut Path button from the control panel.

nostrilnostrilnostril

5. How to Add Some Aesthetic Cartoon Features

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 40 x 15 px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Apply your scatter brush to the stroke and remove the fill color.

Switch to the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) and click the left and right anchor points to quickly turn them into sharp points.

Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top anchor point, and simply delete it.

chinchinchin

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create two 30 x 40 px shapes and place them as shown in the first image. Apply your scatter brush for both of these shapes and remove the fill color, and then go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), use it to select the highlighted anchor points, and delete them.

eyebrowseyebrowseyebrows

Step 3

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create two 75 x 85 px shapes and place them as shown in the first image. Apply your scatter brush for both of these shapes and remove the fill color, and then go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), use it to select the highlighted anchor points, and delete them.

cheekscheekscheeks

Step 4

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create an 80 x 30 px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Apply your scatter brush to the stroke and remove the fill color.

Turn the left and right anchor points into sharp points using the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the top anchor point and delete it.

chinchinchin

6. How to Create the Ears

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 40 x 80 px shape, apply your scatter brush to the stroke, and set the fill color to R=255 G=179 B=117.

Turn the top anchor point into a sharp point using the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), and then select it using the Direct Selection Tool (A) to cut the path at that point.

ear shapeear shapeear shape

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 20 x 50 px shape, apply your scatter brush to the stroke, and set the fill color to black.

Again, use the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) to turn the top anchor point into a sharp point, and then select it to cut the path at that point.

ear shapeear shapeear shape

Step 3

Use the Selection Tool (V) to select the two shapes made in the previous two steps and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Set the Angle to -45 degrees and click OK.

Place these shapes as shown in the first image and then press Shift-Control-[ to send them to the back, behind the rest of the shapes that make up your design.

With these two shapes still selected, go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Vertical box and then click the Copy button to easily add horizontally flipped copies. Place them as shown in the second image.

rotate reflect earrotate reflect earrotate reflect ear

7. How to Create the Hat

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 65 x 30 px shape and place it as shown in the following image. Fill it with R=178 G=169 B=164 and apply your art brush to the stroke, and then press Shift-Control-[ to send it to the back.

hat shapehat shapehat shape

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 45 x 25 px shape and place it as shown in the following image. Fill it with R=225 G=220 B=210 and apply your art brush to the stroke, and then press Shift-Control-[ to send it to the back. Keep it selected, switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), and focus on the control panel to set the Corner Radius to 5 px.

Reselect the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 55 x 45 px shape, and place it as shown in the following image. Fill it with R=225 G=220 B=210 and apply your art brush to the stroke, and then send it to the back (Shift-Control-[).

hat shapeshat shapeshat shapes

8. How to Create the First Glove Retro Drawing

Step 1

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 25 x 45 px shape, fill it with white, and apply your art brush to the stroke.

ellipse gloveellipse gloveellipse glove

Step 2

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 75 x 30 px shape, fill it with a random color, and place it as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 75 x 15 px shape, fill it with white, and place it as shown in the second image.

Select both shapes and merge them using the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Apply your art brush to the resulting shape, and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the top-left anchor point and simply delete it.

glove fingerglove fingerglove finger

Step 3

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 50 x 20 px shape, fill it with a random color, and place it as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 25 x 20 px shape, fill it with white, and place it as shown in the second image.

Select both shapes and merge them using the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Apply your art brush to the resulting shape and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the top-right anchor point and delete it. Move down to the bottom anchor point and drag it 10 px to the left, as shown in the final image.

glove fingerglove fingerglove finger

Step 4

Select the entire path made in the previous step and duplicate it (Control-C > Control-V). Place the copy as shown in the first image and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the rightmost anchor point and drag it 5 px to the left, as shown in the second image.

duplicate flove fingerduplicate flove fingerduplicate flove finger

Step 5

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 50 x 20 px shape, fill it with a random color, and place it as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 30 x 20 px shape, fill it with white, and place it as shown in the second image.

Select both shapes and merge them using the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Apply your art brush to the resulting shape and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to drag a selection across the right side. Press the Delete key to remove that side, and then select the bottom anchor point and drag it 20 px to the left, as shown in the final image.

glove fingerglove fingerglove finger

Step 6

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 25 x 30 px shape, fill it with white, and apply your art brush to the stroke. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), use it to select the bottom-right side, and delete it.

Focus on the remaining path and pick the Pen Tool (P). Click the rightmost anchor point to continue your path from that point. Click and drag to add a new point and drag the handles 5 px diagonally, as shown in the third image, and then simply click to add the final point, as shown in the final image.

thumb glovethumb glovethumb glove

Step 7

Keep using the Pen Tool (P) to create a white path which will cover the gaps from your glove design. Once you're done, send this shape to the back (Shift-Control-[), and then select all the shapes that make up your glove and Group them (Control-G).

glove groupglove groupglove group

Step 8

Place your glove group as shown in the first image and then duplicate it. Flip the copy, Rotate it 45 degrees, and place it as shown in the second image.

speak no evilspeak no evilspeak no evil

Step 9

To cover the eyes, also Rotate the other glove group 45 degrees, and then place the two groups roughly as shown in the following image.

hear no evilhear no evilhear no evil

9. How to Create the Second Glove Retro Drawing

Step 1

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 25 x 40 px shape, fill it with white, and apply your art brush to the stroke.

ellipse gloveellipse gloveellipse glove

Step 2

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 70 x 35 px shape, fill it with a random color, and place it as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 35 x 35 px shape, fill it with white, and place it as shown in the second image.

Select both shapes and merge them using the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Apply your art brush to the resulting shape and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the bottom anchor points (highlighted in the third image) and simply delete them.

glove fingerglove fingerglove finger

Step 3

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 50 x 20 px shape, fill it with a random color, and place it as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 25 x 20 px shape, fill it with white, and place it as shown in the second image.

Select both shapes and merge them using the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Apply your art brush to the resulting shape and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the bottom-right anchor point and delete it. Move up to the top anchor point and drag it 10 px to the left, as shown in the final image.

glove fingerglove fingerglove finger

Step 4

Select the entire path made in the previous step and duplicate it (Control-C > Control-V). Place the copy as shown in the first image and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the rightmost anchor point and drag it 5 px to the right, as shown in the second image.

duplicate glove fingerduplicate glove fingerduplicate glove finger

Step 5

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 50 x 20 px shape, fill it with a random color, and place it as shown in the first image.

Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 30 x 20 px shape, fill it with white, and place it as shown in the second image.

Select both shapes and merge them using the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Apply your art brush to the resulting shape and use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to delete the right side, and then select just the top anchor point and drag it 20 px to the left, as shown in the final image.

glove fingerglove fingerglove finger

Step 6

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 25 x 30 px shape, fill it with white, and apply your art brush to the stroke. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), use it to select the top-right side, and delete it.

Focus on the remaining path and use the Pen Tool (P) to add two more anchor points as shown in the following images.

glove thumbglove thumbglove thumb

Step 7

Use the Pen Tool (P) again to quickly draw a white shape that covers the empty space, and send it to the back (Shift-Control-[). Once you're done, select all these shapes and Group them (Control-G).

glove groupglove groupglove group

Step 8

Rotate your new glove design 60 degrees, add a copy, flip it horizontally, and then place the two groups as shown in the following image.

hear no evilhear no evilhear no evil

10. How to Add a Background and a Texture

Step 1

Now that your old-style illustration is complete, let's add a simple background. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape that covers your entire artboard, fill it with R=242 G=224 B=188, and send it to the back (Shift-Control-[).

retro illustration backgroundretro illustration backgroundretro illustration background

Step 2

Let's also add a subtle texture for this vintage-style illustration which should give it a more 30s cartoon art style.

You'll need Paper_08 from this pack of paper textures. Drag it into your Illustrator document, decrease its size to cover the artboard and center it, and then lower its Opacity to 70% and change the Blending Mode to Multiply. With this final touch, your old cartoon aesthetic design is complete.

retro illustration textureretro illustration textureretro illustration texture

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how your old-style illustration should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

Feel free to adjust this retro illustration and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at Envato Elements, with interesting solutions to improve any vintage style illustration.

vintage cartoon aestheticvintage cartoon aestheticvintage cartoon aesthetic

Popular Retro Illustration Resources From Envato Elements

Envato Elements is an excellent resource for not only 1930s style cartoons but also other vintage cartoon art. Here's a short list of some of the most popular vintage cartoon aesthetic designs that you can find.

Baseball Boy Retro Illustration (AI, EPS, JPG, SVG)

Check out this pack of highly detailed baseball boy illustrations. The design is fully editable, completely made of vector.

baseball retro illustrationbaseball retro illustrationbaseball retro illustration

Vaccine Mascot Retro Illustration (AI, EPS, JPG, PSD, PNG)

Here's a classic 1930s cartoon style which depicts a vaccine mascot retro illustration. Feel free to scale or recolor it as you may need.

vaccine retro illustrationvaccine retro illustrationvaccine retro illustration

Sheep and Cow Vintage Cartoon Art (AI, EPS, JPG, PNG, PSD)

Here's another cute and simple 1930s cartoon style that can be used to make your designs funnier.

sheep cow vintage cartoon artsheep cow vintage cartoon artsheep cow vintage cartoon art

Vintage Comic Creator (ASL, PAT, PSD)

You can easily create a vintage style illustration using this extensive selection of layer styles, patterns, and overlays. Just give it a try and you won't be sorry.

vintage comic creatorvintage comic creatorvintage comic creator

Aesthetic Cartoon Eyes (BRUSHSET, SWATCHES)

Check out this set of aesthetic cartoon eyes, and feel free to try them as you create your own black and white cartoon characters.

cartoon eyescartoon eyescartoon eyes
Advertisement
Did you find this post useful?
One subscription.
Unlimited Downloads.
Get unlimited downloads