Jakubs | November 3, 2022

How to draw retro shapes in Illustrator

Would you like to create retro shapes in Illustrator and wonder how to do it? An excellent illustration of how Illustrator manages transparency in your Photoshop images and text objects can be found in this tutorial on creating a retro look. We'll also use the envelope distort feature to produce some awesome text effects and demonstrate how you can still modify text even after it has been twisted in funky ways. Yes, my dear.

1. FORM A ROUND RECTANGLE

Choose File>New, click the Document Profile pop-up menu, select Basic RGB, and then click OK in the New Document window. choose the tool for Rounded Rectangle (nested under the Rectangle tool [M]). To open the Rounded Rectangle dialog, click once on the artboard. Set the Width and Height to 800 and 600, respectively. Click OK after setting the Corner Radius to 40 points. Set the Fill to None and the Stroke to black in the Control panel so we can see where the shape will be divided in the following steps.

2. Draw two wavelike paths.

Choose the Pen tool (P), click outside of the rectangle on the left side about a third of the way down, then drag points with the mouse to draw a path that curves randomly over the shape. A wavy line like this one should be the result of your efforts. To make three portions out of the general shape, draw another wavy line across the shape below this one. (Tip: After drawing your first path, press Return [PC: Enter] to start drawing your second path independently of the first.)

3. SEPARATE AND UNGROUP

These lines will now be used to divide the rounded rectangle into two parts. Click-and-drag to select the background form and lines using the Selection tool (V). Click the Divide icon, the first icon in the Pathfinders section, after launching the Pathfinder panel (Window>Pathfinder). This will separate the rectangle using the pathways. Even though we've chopped the shapes, they are still grouped together, so select Object>Ungroup.

4. ARRANGING TYPE AND SCALE TO FIT

To set a text object, click the artboard inside the top shape while using the Type tool (T). We're utilizing a font here by the name of Oliver. From www.dafont.com, you can download it. The first word will be “SMASHING” because we're going with a throwback motif. For the middle form and the final shape, respectively, we'll use “GROOVY” and “YEAH BABY.” Scale each text object in the selected text such that it is roughly the same size as the shape it occupies.

5. ENVELOPE TEXT DISTORTS TO FIT SHAPE

By choosing Object>Arrange>Send to Back, you may send the word “SMASHING” in the top shape to the back. Go to Object>Envelope Distort>Make after dragging to choose the text and top shape. Drag to pick the text and top shape together, then choose Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Top Object from the menu. The text will adjust to the shape as a result. Not bad, huh?

6. GO INTO ISOLATION MODE AND REPEATE ENVELOPE DISTORT

Here's something really crucial: even though the text inside the shape has been warped, we can still alter it by switching to Isolation mode. Double-clicking on the object will put you in edit mode where you can adjust the text's size, rotation, or other properties as you see fit. Simply click the little arrow twice in the top-left corner of the artboard to get back to the main layout. For the final two text shapes, repeat Step Five. Keep in mind that for the distortion to work, the text must be placed behind the shape.

7. IMPORT PSD WITH TRANSPARENCY

An image with transparency will now be added. To create a normal layer in Photoshop, we double-clicked the Backdrop layer in the disco girl example. Then, we selected the dancer, went to Select>Inverse, tapped Delete (PC: Backspace) to make the background transparent, and finally, we picked File>Save As. Go to File>Place once the image is ready. Search for the file containing your extracted subject when the Place dialog appears, then click OK. Resize as appropriate and place this image in front of the text. Keep in mind that her shirt's sleeve still maintains its transparency.

8. TEXT SAMPLE COLOR

We're going to use the disco girl we just imported, specifically her clothing, to color the text. To activate Isolation mode and switch to the Eyedropper tool, double-click the top text object (I). After that, click on the part of her shirt you want to see a color sample of. We chose a dark pink color for SMASHING. The color is applied to the chosen object once you click to sample it. Be sure to exit Isolation mode once you've found the color you're looking for. Apply this to the remaining text layers, giving each one a different hue. We chose yellow for YEAH BABY and blue for GROOVY.

9. ADD 3-POINT STROKE TO TEXT

Let's apply a tiny stroke to these text objects to give them a little more polish. Shift-click all three text objects to pick them with the Selection tool, and then click the Stroke icon near the bottom of the Toolbox. Select the black swatch from the Swatches panel (Window>Swatches) and change the Stroke Weight to 3 pt in the Control panel.

10. ADD A BACKDROP IMAGE AND SEND TO BACK

To complete the image, it is now time to add a background. You can use whatever image you like, however we're utilizing a great disco background from www.istockphoto.com. Simply move the image to the front of the design, resize it as appropriate, and select Object>Arrange>Send to Back.

11. SET TEXT TO HARD LIGHT

Re-select the three text objects with the backdrop in place, then select the Transparency panel (Window>Transparency), and switch the blend mode from Normal to Hard Light. Now, all three text objects should allow you to see the backdrop.

12. CREATE A DROP SHADOW

Let's quickly put a small shadow beneath the disco girl. Draw a little oval shape using the Ellipse tool (L) at the bottom of her pants. In the Control panel, change the Fill to Black. Go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur in the Photoshop Effects menu. Click OK after setting the Radius to 5 pixels. Drop the Opacity to 70% and reopen the Transparency panel. In order to make the shadow appear behind the girl, choose the girl and then choose Object>Arrange>Bring to Front. Funky, baby!