What You’ll Be Creating
Can’t live without your coffee
fix? This cheerful, retro-style art would make the perfect addition to any
kitchen—a visual companion to your morning brew.
In this tutorial, we’ll be using
a variety of tools in Illustrator (including the Pen, Pencil, and Pathfinder
tools, among others) to create easy vector illustrations. We’ll also modify
some stylish typefaces to complete our design.
If you’re in the mood for a
quicker project, you can get a head start with this vector bundle.
You can place the coffee pot and cup shapes as they are, or add your own
embellishments to them.
For further inspiration, check out other retro and coffee vectors over on Envato Market.
Ready? Let’s get to it!
1. Set Up Your Document
We’ll start by opening a new
document in Illustrator. I’ve set my document size at A3, a common poster size
that’s roughly equivalent to 11 x 17 inches in U.S. measurements. You can see
the setup below:
Next, we’ll choose our colors. If
you’d like to use the same color palette as I am, you can plug in the hex codes listed
below. Just double-click on the Fill box
in your toolbar (where your color selections appear) and enter a code in the
box at the bottom of the window, the one that’s preceded by a number sign (#).
Add a background by using the Rectangle Tool to fill the whole art
board with our yellow color /
Lock the layer it’s on in the Layers panel by clicking the empty box
to the left.
2. Place the Typography
One of the keys to creating a
design that reflects a certain time period is choosing authentic-looking
typefaces. For this project, we want a style reminiscent of the 1950s and 60s
(commonly referred to as “mid-century” or “mid-century modern”). I’ve chosen two
free typefaces designed to echo this era, which you can download at the links
- Maiden Orange (via
Create a new layer and type out
‘Fresh’ at 170 pt. Change the font
to Carosello and the color to orange /
#F77823. Then make the ‘F’ slightly
bigger, about 180 pt.
Type out ‘COFFEE’ at 145 pt. Change the font to Maiden
Orange and the color to teal /
The letters look a little too
thin next to the thick strokes of the script font, so give ‘COFFEE’ a 5 pt stroke and change the Tracking to 50. Both of these settings are accessible in the Type toolbar that
extends across the top of your screen when you select a text box.
Drag both words into the upper right corner of the artboard, where we’ll
be arranging them. This is what we have so far:
3. Modify & Embellish the Type
Now we’ll make some changes to the text to give it a little extra retro flair.
First, select ‘Fresh’ and go to Effect > Warp > Rise and set the Bend to 18%.
Next, using one of Illustrator’s
default brushes, we’ll add some underlining under ‘Fresh’ for emphasis and to
fill the space between it and ‘COFFEE’.
Select the Paintbrush Tool. From your Brush
Libraries Menu, select Artistic >
Artistic_Ink and find the Tapered –
Draw a couple of orange swashes
under ‘Fresh’, following the tilting angle of the letters. If your lines turn
out a little lumpy, drag the Smooth Tool
across them (located under the
Pencil Tool; access it with a click-hold). I changed the stroke of the top line
to 1.5 pt and kept the bottom line
at 1 pt so there would a little variation between them, as if they were really
painted with a brush.
Some Illustrator brushes can vary slightly from the
stroke color you assign to them. Here, you might notice that the lines appear
to be a lighter orange than the ‘Fresh’ text. If you ever notice this issue in
your work, just select the brush strokes that don’t look right, go to Object > Expand Appearance, and re-select
your desired color swatch.
Our last embellishment is to add a subtle shadow to ‘COFFEE’. First, we want to make the letters all one shape,
so we don’t have to mess with changing the fill and stroke colors separately.
To do this, go to Type > Create
Outlines, then Object > Expand (leave
the default settings) > OK. To
finish the process, select Window >
Pathfinder > Unite.
Now copy and paste ‘COFFEE’ to
duplicate it. Change the color to gold /
#F9B31C and position the copy slightly
below and to the left of the original word. Now click back to the teal “COFFEE”
and select Object > Arrange >
Bring to Front.
And now we’ve completed the
typographic portion of our project. You may want to adjust the placement until you like the way the words sit together.
4. Create the Illustrations
Now we get to add our main
artwork: the coffee pot and cup. You can approach this part however you like,
but some techniques you might consider are:
- using preexisting vector shapes,
like the ones linked in the introduction
- drawing them freehand, either on
paper first or straight in Illustrator
using a reference photo and the Pen Tool
I chose the third option for a
couple of reasons. One, I like the control the Pen Tool offers for creating both curved and geometric shapes. Two, I had a particular style of coffee pot in
mind, and wanted to get the shapes right with the help of a reference photo.
If you’d also like to use this
method, some basic steps will follow. For reference photo suggestions, see the links
below (Creative Commons-licensed images via Flickr, courtesy of user Jay Kaye).
The ones I’ll be using are the first options, but you can use these techniques
no matter which photos you choose.
- Coffee Pots: 1, 2, 3
- Cups: 1, 2, 3
Place your reference photo off to the side of your artboard and reduce its opacity to about 50%. Using the Pen Tool, outline the basic shapes of your coffee pot. If you want
any parts to be a different color than the main body, make them separate shapes
for easy coloring later. Don’t worry about creating perfectly straight lines;
shapes that are a little off-kilter will suit this style fine.
Here’s how my outlining turned
out. Even though the spout will be the same color as the rest of the
pot, I gave it its own shape to create clean angles where it attaches.
Change the outlines into filled
shapes by clicking the Swap Fill and
Stroke arrow or hitting Shift-X.
Apply whatever colors you like. You may need to send some of your shapes
backward (such as the handles here).
Place your finished coffee pot in
the lower left-hand corner and size it to fill about two-thirds of the space
below the text. Make sure the spout is pointing to the right. If the reference photo
you’re using has it facing in the other direction, it’s an easy fix. Just drag
your cursor to select the whole pot, then click Object > Transform > Reflect > Vertical.
Repeat the previous two steps for the cup. If you need to cut out a shape, such as the inside of the handle, an
easy way is to make sure that shape or outline is in front, select it and the
background shape (holding down Shift),
and go to Window > Pathfinder >
Minus Front (that’s the second button in the top row).
Place the cup across from the pot
in the right corner (handle facing outwards). For the inside of the cup, I
chose a lighter version of our teal color.
5. Add the Finishing Touches
Can’t forget to fill your cup!
Use the Ellipse Tool to add a dark
brown oval for the coffee. You can use the Direct
Selection Tool to drag out the oval’s anchor points until it fits the
inside of your cup. Finish it off by drawing a lighter brown curved shape with
the Pen Tool for a highlight.
Create a new layer and move it to
be second from the bottom in the Layers Panel. Use the
same technique as the previous step (Ellipse Tool and moving anchor points) to
add shadows beneath the pot and cup in our gold color.
Our last step is to draw some
steam coming out of the coffee pot. Use the Pencil Tool at 3 pt and
with a stroke color of white. Draw some squiggly, overlapping lines that fill
the space above the pot and to the left of the text. I found that the best way
to create fluid, crisscrossing lines was to draw them in two loops that both
begin and end at the spout of the coffee pot.
That’s All, Folks!
Great work—I think you’ve earned yourself a coffee break. I hope you’ve had fun using some
of Illustrator’s most basic shape and drawing tools, along with some handy
shortcuts, to create easy vector illustrations. If you’re interested in
learning more about creating authentic-looking mid-century-style designs, make sure
to check out our 10
Top Tips for Creating Retro-Inspired Designs.
Feel free to share how your
project turned out or ask questions in the comments section. As always, happy
Read more here:: How to Design a Retro Poster in Adobe Illustrator