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How to Create a Vintage Typographic Illustration Poster in Adobe Illustrator

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This post is part of a series called The Wizard of Oz.
Click Your Heels Twice: How to Draw Sequin Ruby Slippers
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

“There’s no place like home…” Dorothy whispered those words, and with three clicks of her sparkly ruby slippers, she was back in Kansas again. It’s an iconic movie moment, one we couldn’t neglect in our series of Wizard of Oz-themed tutorials.

So in this tutorial, we’ll walk through creating a typographic illustration using the “No Place Like Home” quote. Since The Wizard of Oz film is set in the early 1900s (and L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the novel it’s based on, was published in 1900), we’ll be using a vintage style inspired by typography from that era.

1. Get Inspired    

Check out these typographic pieces from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Vintage Me Oh My, a blog that curates examples of vintage graphic design, is a great resource if you’re looking for authentic inspiration.

vintage typography inspirationvintage typography inspirationvintage typography inspiration

I know some of these look pretty ornate and complicated, but rest assured—we won’t be using pen-and-ink or paints to craft our design by hand like they did back then. However, we will borrow some simplified shapes and styles, and apply some neat tricks and textures to give our final result an antique, hand-drawn look.

2. Set Up

Step 1

Before we get started, you might want to download the resources we’ll be using to complete the tutorial. They’re all free, and you can download them at the links below:

Also, don’t forget to download the graphics that go with this tutorial (see the Download Attachment button to the right). Inside the file, you’ll find several decorative elements that I’ve created to expedite the process, since we’ll be focusing mainly on the typography for this particular project.

Envato Market also has a big collection of different textures and texture packs, which you might want to consider for a variation on this design.

Step 2

Open up an 8 x 10 in. document in Adobe Illustrator. It’s always a good idea to create your project in a size that’s easy to print and frame, in case you end up wanting to hang it up yourself, give it as a gift, or even sell it as an art print.

opening document in Illustratoropening document in Illustratoropening document in Illustrator

Next, we’ll set up the background in preparation for arranging our typography. We’ll place all our elements in black to start out, and add color later.

Step 3

Place the ruby slipper graphic (from the attached file) and size it (proportionally, holding down Shift) to fill most of the bottom corner of the page. Use the Ellipse Tool to draw a circle to fill most of the width of the page (mine is 530 px in diameter). Position it to overlap with the slipper just below the ribbon.

placing background graphicsplacing background graphicsplacing background graphics

Step 4

Adjust the stroke on the circle to 10 pt. See where the circle overlaps with the shoe, cutting through the white space around the ribbon? Select the Path Eraser Tool (you’ll find it under the Pencil Tool; click-hold, and a secondary menu will pop up) and, making sure the circle is still selected, erase the part of the circle that overlaps.

adding circle stroke and erasing pathadding circle stroke and erasing pathadding circle stroke and erasing path

3. Arrange the Typography

Before we begin this section, make sure you’ve downloaded and installed all the fonts we’ll be using (linked above under “Set Up”).

Since “home” is the focus of this quote, we’re going to make it the focal point of our illustration. It will be the biggest word in our layout, and we’ll place it first, then arrange the rest of the words around it.

Step 1

First, type a capital 'H' by itself, since it will be in a different typeface than the rest of the word. We’re using Harrington as our font, at a size of about 305 pt. Place it in the bottom left of the circle. Then type out 'OME' in all capital letters—this time, using akaPosse at a smaller size, 128 pt.

typesetting hometypesetting hometypesetting home

Step 2

Next, we’re going to add a warp effect to 'OME' so its shape matches the slant of the slipper. Go to Effect > Warp > Rise and set Bend to 36%.

warping home textwarping home textwarping home text

Step 3

Open the Character menu and change the Tracking setting to 75 to make the spacing between the letters a little wider. After you do this, 'HOME' probably won’t look centered within the circle anymore, but that’s all right, because we still have a couple of adjustments to make.

adjusting text trackingadjusting text trackingadjusting text tracking

Step 4

The 'H' seems a little lightweight next to the bold letters of 'OME', so fatten it up a bit by adding a 7 pt stroke, the same way we adjusted the stroke on the circle earlier.

Now, to me, the 'H' looks too wide, so I clicked on it and pulled in one of the middle handles on the side to make it a little skinnier. That way, I was able to move the 'H' down to fill the bottom corner of the circle a little better. As a last small adjustment, I clicked on 'OME' and, using one of the corner handles, rotated it slightly counter-clockwise so the 'O' dips down and fills that angle created by the 'H' and slipper. After you’re done, you should end up with something like this:  

positioning home textpositioning home textpositioning home text

Step 5

Type out 'like' in lower case letters, choosing the font Smythe at 110 pt.

Now, warp the text like we did for 'OME', going to Effect > Warp > Rise and setting Bend to 30%.

warping like textwarping like textwarping like text

Position it down in the corner created by 'HOME', leaving about as much vertical space between 'like' and 'OME' as there is between 'OME' and the slipper.

Step 6

Type out a capital 'P' using the font Fletcher Gothic at 200 pt. Add an 8 pt stroke. Position the 'P' so its stem lines up diagonally with the 'H' as shown below.

Type out 'LACE' in capital letters, using akaPosse at 110 pt.

Apply a warp effect to 'LACE' (again using Effect > Warp > Rise), setting the Bend to 57%. Don't click OK yet... this time, we’ll also adjust another warp setting, the Horizontal Distortion. This makes the letters get slightly larger as you move left to right. Set that to 25%.

warping and distorting place textwarping and distorting place textwarping and distorting place text

Step 7

Type out 'no' in lowercase letters, using Smythe at 75 pt.

This time, instead of warping the word, we’re going to rotate it and shear it, which will make it look italicized.

First, rotate 'no' counter-clockwise so it’s at approximately the same slant as LACE. Then, select Object > Transform > Shear and type 20 into the Shear Angle box.

rotating and shearing no textrotating and shearing no textrotating and shearing no text

Position 'no' approximately in the center of the white space remaining at the top of the circle. We’ll be adding embellishments around it later.

Step 8

We’re going to place 'There’s' in the top corner of the page, using more shearing and warping effects, so it wraps around the curve of the circle.

Type out a capital 'T' using Fletcher Gothic at 205 pt.

Notice how the 'T' has a little curved piece on the end? We want that curve to match the curve of the circle, so we’re going to shear it, just like we did with 'no'. 

First, rotate the 'T' counter-clockwise, so that curve on the bottom aligns with the slope of the circle. Now select Object > Transform > Shear and type 30 into the Shear Angle box. This will straighten the 'T' back out, while keeping that curve at the bottom.

rotating and shearing letter Trotating and shearing letter Trotating and shearing letter T

Step 9

Move the 'T' to a place where the bottom curve fits the edge of the circle nicely. Rotate slightly or adjust the length to improve the fit if you like.

Type out 'here’s' using Smythe at 110 pt. Rotate counter-clockwise to fit in the space between the 'T' and the circle.

typesetting therestypesetting therestypesetting theres

Step 10

Select Object > Transform > Shear and type 15 into the Shear Angle box.

shearing theres textshearing theres textshearing theres text

Step 11

Select Effect > Warp > Arc Lower and change the Bend to -30%.

warping theres textwarping theres textwarping theres text

And here's what we've got so far:

typsetting resultstypsetting resultstypsetting results

4. Add Color

Now we’re at the point where we get to add some finishing touches that really pull the design together—first, color. Our color palette is inspired by a vintage poster from 1893 by French painter Jules Chéret. I think it will work nicely for this project, with a combination of the red (We have to have “ruby” for that slipper, right?) and muted colors that will help create an antique look. You could also try any other color scheme that strikes your fancy, if you’re so inclined.

If you’d like to try this one, below you’ll find the hex codes for each color that you can plug into Illustrator’s Color Picker window (just select the object you want to apply a color to; double-click on the Fill square at the bottom of your toolbar; and in the new window that opens, type the code into the box that has a number sign in front of it). Once added, you can drag a color from the Fill square into your Swatches menu for easier access.

vintage color palettevintage color palettevintage color palette

Step 1

First, select everything you have on the page so far (Command/Control-A) and select Type > Create Outlines. With everything still selected, go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Because the circle, the 'H', and the 'P' all have strokes, we have to do a little extra to get them ready for a color change. Select all three (you can hold down Shift as you click to select more than one object at once), and then go to Object > Expand. Making sure the boxes labeled Fill and Stroke are both checked, click OK.

expanding textexpanding textexpanding text

Step 2

Now go to Window > Pathfinder, and in the window that pops up, select Unite (the first button in the top row). This will put all three items in a group, which we don’t want, so go to Object > Ungroup.

applying pathfinder tool to textapplying pathfinder tool to textapplying pathfinder tool to text

Step 3

First, we’ll add a neutral background. Create a new layer and drag it down to be the first/bottom layer. In this layer, using the Rectangle Tool, draw a rectangle the same size as the page using the beige color, #EFEAD9. Lock the layer so it doesn’t move around on you (in the Layers panel, click the empty box next to the eye icon).

Now, select the slipper and click Object > Arrange > Bring to Front. Then change the color to the red, #E8412F.

Select 'HOME', 'PLACE', and 'There’s'. Change the color to the navy blue, #213552.

Select the circle, 'no', and 'like'. Change the color to the lavender-gray shade, #8A6E78.

5. Apply the Finishing Touches: Textures & Other Embellishments

We’re going to be adding a few different types of texture to give our design a vintage, inky, printed look.

Step 1

Illustrator’s Roughen tool is one of my favorites. You can use it to give the objects or text in your design some roughness around the edges—from subtle to dramatic. Let’s try it:

Select everything on the page. Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. Play around with the settings until you like the amount of roughness it creates. After clicking OK, if you want to try different settings, you can adjust them by going to Window > Appearance and clicking Roughen, which will re-open the window. You can see the settings I chose in the screenshot below:

roughening edgesroughening edgesroughening edges

Step 2

You probably noticed that I included several decorative elements in the same file where you got the ruby slipper illustration. Now we get to use those. Place them in the positions indicated below; they're already the right size for the layout, so you just have to copy and paste them over. Change the color to lavender-gray / #8A6E78

adding embellishmentsadding embellishmentsadding embellishments

If you’d like to draw your own embellishments instead to fill up some of those blank spaces, go for it!

Step 3

If you haven’t already, download this free vector texture pack. Inside, there will be three Adobe Illustrator (AI) files. We’ll be using the ones labeled 'texture 1' and 'texture 2'.

Open a new layer and place one of the textures (File > Place and find the file on your computer). A window will pop up displaying the texture; click OK.

The texture will be black. Click the Edit Contents button, which will select all the individual pieces of the texture. Change the color to beige / #EFEAD9.

editing inner textureediting inner textureediting inner texture

Step 4

Now rotate the texture 90 degrees. (Object > Transform > Rotate; Type in 90 and hit Enter / Return.) The texture is about the same size as our document, so just center it over the page.

Repeat the same process for the second texture. When you’re done, lock the layer that has the textures. You’ll have some nice grittiness that looks like this:

inner textureinner textureinner texture

Step 5

Now, we’re going to add some structure back in where the textures are the heaviest, placing an inner stroke on 'PLACE' and 'HOME' to tone done the graininess.

Select 'PLACE' and 'HOME' and copy them (Command/Control-C). Paste them in a new layer using Edit > Paste in Front (Command/Control-F). It will temporarily look as if you’ve covered up the texture.

With the words still selected, click the Swap Fill and Stroke arrow (Shift-X).

swapping fill and strokeswapping fill and strokeswapping fill and stroke

Step 6

Open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke or Command/Control-F10). Under the Align Stroke option, click the middle button, Align Stroke to Inside. Adjust the stroke weight until you’re happy with how it looks; I like 7 pt.

applying inner strokeapplying inner strokeapplying inner stroke

Step 7

We’re going to re-create the offset text effect that we see in our first inspiration picture (Lion Coffee). See how there’s a cool combination of negative space and shadow that's offset from the main letters of 'Lion'? That’s the effect we’re after.

Create a new layer, and drag it down to be your second layer (right above the beige background layer).

Copy 'HOME' and Paste in Back (Command/Control-B) of your new layer. Change the color to lavender-gray / #8A6E78 and use your arrow keys to move it down and to the right of the main letters, so it looks like a shadow.

applying offset text effectapplying offset text effectapplying offset text effect

Copy this shadow and Paste in Front on the same layer. Change the color to beige / #EFEAD9. This time, shift it up (to be about even with the navy blue 'HOME') and slightly left with your arrow keys.

offset text effectoffset text effectoffset text effect

Step 8

We’re almost done! The final finishing touch to give our design an authentically vintage look is to overlay an old paper texture. Illustrator actually has options similar to Photoshop's blending modes, so we don’t even have to switch design programs.

If you haven’t already, download this paper texture. Place it in a new layer (make sure this layer is the topmost one), and size it to cover the whole page.

With this texture selected, open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Select Soft Light from the drop-down menu, and keep the opacity at 100%.

applying paper textureapplying paper textureapplying paper texture

Duplicate the paper texture, copying and pasting it right on top of what you’ve already done. This time, change the transparency settings to Darken at 25% opacity.

And that’s it! (P.S. You’ll notice that I changed 'There’s' from blue to red—last minute, I decided that balanced out the ruby slipper better. Feel free to do the same or keep it blue; as artists and designers, that’s our prerogative!)

finished projectfinished projectfinished project

Click Your Heels Together

I hope this tutorial helped you learn some techniques and tricks that that will be helpful for future design and illustration projects. Adobe Illustrator is packed with tools you can use to customize your typography, like the Warp and Roughen effects we used for this project, and experimenting with them can produce some great results. Feel free to share how your project turned out or ask questions in the comments section. Happy designing!

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