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How to Create a Vintage Pharmacy Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

If you ever get a chance to visit the city of Lviv in West Ukraine, you must visit the first Lviv pharmacy, which was established in 1735! During my studies at Lviv University, I had a chance to visit this beautiful old pharmacy and museum. Reminiscing about it recently, I was inspired to create today’s tutorial, where we’ll draw equipment that was frequently used in the old pharmacies.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to take simple shapes and apply a variety of tools and effects, such as Arc, Inflate, and Bulge, to transform the shapes. I hope you’ll enjoy the process of drawing and learn something new and useful.

Why don't you browse GraphicRiver and find some pharmacy icons to purchase or at least be inspired!

1. How to Create the Table

Step 1

Start by creating a new document (File > New) with 850 px Width and 850 px Height. First, we will create a table where we’ll display all the pharmacy tools.

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two long, narrow rectangles. The first one is slightly darker and thicker than the second one. On the stroke panel, make the stroke Weight 3 pt for both rectangles. For the stroke color, choose brown. Below in the image are all the color codes you need.

creating the table

Step 2

Let’s create the legs for the table. First, using the Ellipse Tool (L), make two ellipses, overlapping each other, as in the image below.

Next, we will apply the Inflate effect to the top ellipse. Go to Effect > Warp > Inflate to apply this to the oval. Enter the options you see below.

creating the table leg

Here’s the same image with new Inflate options for the bottom ellipse. So select the bottom ellipse and apply this effect.

creating the table leg 2

Let’s modify the bottom ellipse one step further. We’ll use the Fish effect this time: go to Effect > Warp > Fish (note that it has to be over the Inflate effect) and enter the options below. Look—our table leg is done!

creating the table leg 3

Step 3

Now let’s attach the leg behind our unfinished table. Select the leg and, while holding the Shift and Alt keys, move it to the right to get another copy of it.

placing the table leg and creating another

Step 4

Let's give our table a few drawers. Draw a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M). Make a small circle using the Ellipse Tool (L). While drawing the ellipse, hold down the Shift key to get a nice, even circle. Make a copy of this circle. Hold the Shift and Alt keys and move the circle to the right to get another copy of it.

Add a rounded rectangle for the drawer handle, using the Rounded Rectangle Tool. Then grab the Scissors Tool (C) and click on the left and right anchor points of the rounded rectangle. Delete the upper part and make sure that the handle is in the middle of the drawer.

creating the drawer

Step 5

Select all parts of the drawer and group them (right-click > Group). Holding the Shift and Alt keys, move the drawer to the right to get another copy of it. Press Control-D once and you’ll get a third copy of a drawer on the right side at the same distance as the distance between the first and the second drawers. 

Align all the drawers, and now we’re ready to move on to the next element.

placing the drawer and creating another two

2. How to Create the First Medicine Bottle

Step 1

In this step, we’re going to create a medicine bottle. Let’s start by making a rounded rectangle and a regular rectangle on the top. Select both these shapes and unite them by pressing the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). While keeping this object selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arc. In the new window, adjust the options from the image below.

creating the first bottle

Step 2

Add a rounded rectangle on top for the bottle rim. We’ll then proceed to make a special cap for this bottle: place a green rectangle behind the bottle and rotate it 45 degrees. As you’re rotating the rectangle, press the Shift key to rotate exactly at a 45-degree angle (the Shift key allows rotation in increments of 45 degrees). 

Let’s slightly pull the top corner of the rectangle by moving up the top anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Up Arrow key on your keyboard.

creating the first bottle 2

Step 3

Of course, all chemicals bottles must be labeled! We'll start making the label with a rounded rectangle. Next, create a square (use the Rectangle Tool (M) while holding down the Shift key) and rotate it 45 degrees. Make a copy of this square by holding down the Alt and Shift keys as you drag this square down. 

Select all three shapes and press the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). Place this label on the bottle that we created before.

Or use your imagination and create a completely different label!

creating the label

3. How to Create a Second Medicine Bottle

Step 1

For the second bottle, we will also start with a rounded rectangle and a smaller rectangle on top as the bottleneck. Unite them using the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel, and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Adjust the Arc options from the image below.

We’re creating this new bottle from scratch so that we can practice together—later, I'll show you how to take an existing one and modify it to have another brand new bottle.

creating the second bottle

Step 2

Place the copy of the label which we made for the first bottle, and add a rounded rectangle on top of the bottleneck. To add a cork, draw another rectangle behind the rounded rectangle, and move the two bottom anchor points of the rectangle to the middle. To do so, use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the anchor points and the Left/Right Arrow keys on your keyboard to move them.

creating the second bottle 2

4. How to Draw a Mortar and Pestle

Let's create a mortar and pestle. For the pestle, we will use the shape we made for the table leg. Change the fill color and rotate it upside down.
 Add a rectangle in front of the pestle and modify it with the Bulge effect: Go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. In the new window, enter the options shown in the image below.

Our mortar and pestle are ready. Wasn’t that easy?

creating the mortar and pestle

5. How to Draw a Balancing Scale

Step 1

Since this is a vintage pharmacy scene, we’ll add a vintage weight scale—a balancing scale. Let’s start with a thin, vertical rectangle and then add a horizontal rounded rectangle. Add another slightly longer rounded rectangle on the base of the scale. 

Draw a small circle in front of the vertical rectangle by using the Ellipse Tool (L) while holding the Shift key. Make a copy of the diamond shape cap from the first bottle and place it on top of the vertical rectangle. The main bar for the scale is ready.

creating the scale

Step 2

Make a rectangle and then place it inside a newly created rounded rectangle (no fill color, just stroke). Select the Scissors Tool (C) and click on the left and right paths of the rounded rectangle, marked in the image below. Delete the bottom part of the rounded rectangle.

Select the rectangle and apply a Bulge effect: go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. In the new window, enter the presented options for the Bulge effect. Using the Line Segment Tool (\), add a vertical line for the hanger and add a tiny circle on top. Group them together.

creating the scale 2

Step 3

Grab the scale bar, the one we created before of this section, and add a horizontal line using the Line Segment Tool (\). To get a straight line, keep the Shift key down as you draw the line. Make sure the line stays behind the circle. Attach the scale plate created in the previous step to this line on the left side. While the plate is selected, hold the Shift and Alt keys, and move it to the right to get another copy of it.

creating the scale 3

Step 4

Now let’s create a weight. Take a copy of the first medicine bottle and remove the Arc effect from the Appearance panel: go to Window > Appearance and drag the Arc function to the trash icon. 

Draw a rectangle in front of the bottle. We will use it as a cutter; therefore, the color of this rectangle is not important. Select both shapes and press the Minus Front button on the Pathfinder panel. This action left us with the body portion of our weight. On top, add a rounded rectangle using the Rounded Rectangle Tool.

creating the weights

Add a few of these weights on the scale plates on each side. You can change the size of these weights to your taste. But don’t forget that if you want the scale to be evenly balanced, the total weight has to be equal on each side.

placing the weights

6. How to Create a Third Medicine Bottle

Step 1

Take the first medicine bottle again, change its color, delete the Arc effect from the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), and drag the Arc function to the trash icon. Add a rounded rectangle as the bottle rim (or take a copy from the existing one). Let’s make the bottle smaller by selecting the bottom anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and moving them up with the Up Arrow key on your keyboard.

creating the third bottle

Step 2

Make a copy of the cork from the second bottle and change its color. And of course, the label—let’s borrow from the second bottle as well.

creating the third bottle 2

7. How to Draw a Manual Grinder

Step 1

To create a manual grinder, draw a rectangle and a thinner rectangle as in the image below. For the colors of these rectangles, let’s take them from the pestle and mortar by using the Eyedropper Tool (I). Make a copy of the top rectangle by moving it down as you hold down the Shift and Alt keys. 

Draw another light brown rectangle in the middle and add a small, dark circle in front. It's a special drawer, where you will get ground stuff.

creating the grinder

Step 2

Make a copy of the mortar and change its fill color. Use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to get the color you need. It's a special plate where you put stuff to be ground.

To add a grinder handle, draw a brown vertical rectangle, a violet circle, and a horizontal rounded rectangle.

creating the grinder 2

Step 3

Now we will add a holder to the grinder handle. To do this, create a violet rectangle. Add an ellipse on top of this rectangle. Apply the Bulge effect to the rectangle: go to Effect > Warp > Bulge and adjust the presented options. Expand the irregular rectangle shape: Object > Expand Appearance

Finally, keeping both shapes selected, unite them by pressing the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder).

creating the grinders handle

Attach the holder to the grinder handle.

placing the grinders handle

8. Place All the Elements Together

Step 1

Combine all the elements together on the table.

placing all the objects together

Step 2

Add a light brown square behind the created objects. Hit the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard. Enter the Height and Width at 850 px. Place the background behind everything. You just created an entire scene!

creating the background

Awesome Work, You're Done!

Congratulations on finishing this tutorial and coming up with such an adorable result! I hope you’ve enjoyed creating this scene and learned some useful tools that you can use on your future creations. If you have any questions, please tell me in the comments below. And don’t forget to give yourself a little pat on the back.

final image
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