Create The Itchy and Scratchy Show Retro Version on Illustrator

You know that a person is a Simpson's addict when he not only knows the name of the children's TV show of the series, but he also try to make a retro version of it. Yeah, that's right, today we're going to learn how to make a 50's version of The Itchy and Scratchy Show.

This time let's try something different and use a reference for this one, so If you're not good at drawing, don't worry, I insert my sketch on the original file to help you guys. Also I know some of you like some montages I do with the final illustration, so you can grab the mockup tv at the end of the post If you want it. Have fun and don't forget to watch The Simpsons.


Sometime ago I used to think that sketching using skeletons was an idiot thing to do, but come on, I just need time to see that trying to do that without nodes was quite disappointing. You can't have a good idea of direction, perspective and size without it, even If you're drawing cartoons, you got use some models on characters. This book wrote by Matt Groening itself quite explain all the use of models on th echaracters of the series.

After making a rough sketch using a really thin brush, I just make another layer and use a harder brush to make things more clear. This is quite good to do, because it let me really free to comit mistakes and don't erase then, but incorporate it to the main idea.

The Background

Ok, time to open Illustrator, create a simple A4 (29,7 x 21 cm / 11,69 x 8,27 cm) RGB, 300 DPI.

I dropped the original sketch with a good trasnparency to not interfere on the illustration, make a new layer above it (command + L / ctral + L).

I really love GRIDS, you actually don't have to do this, I just did because a matter of organization of the whole layout.

Using the rectangle tool (M), create this rectangle that fits outside the canvas, add a linear grey gradient on it, with two greys on each extremity and a white on the center.

Then go to Effect > Pixelate > Color Halftone.

Zero all the channels and set max radius to 15 pixels.

The Titles

Let's try something really foxy this time, using the pen tool (P) make this light simmetric curve.

If you click on it using the text tool (T), you will see the shape became writable.

I just wrote Abduzeedo wuing Bazar font, grab it here.

Let's make a ribbon, first draw the central shape using the pen tool (P).

Repeat the same procedure to create the extremity. / Repita o mesmo processo para criar a extremidade.

Let's fast forward it, I just added a few hachures and detail using the previous tool, just do the same.

Same old good trick: Copy it, reflect it and place it, I think you guys already know this.

Place the previous title above it, curve everything and use a bold stroke to make contrast.

Added the classic "proudly presents" using Helvetica Bold.

I really like this font: The Black Bureau, you can download it at The Legacy of Defeat, wrote the name of the show using it, then curve everything and place it like the sample.

I really dig that old shadow effects used on some titles, first copy the white words, turn to black, send to back. Copy then again, ungroup both and use the Minus Front option on each letter. Sure, this will tatke sometime to achieve, but it's slick.



Make two new layers (command + L / ctrl + L) and name them "Scratchy" and "Itchy".

Let's use the sketch as reference, first draw the face shape using the pen tool (P).

Use the ellipse tool (L) to create the nose, than adjust using the direct selection tool (A).

Dry the eyeborws using the good and old pen tool (P).

Man, I just love these retro characters eyes, they are way simple, just make a little cut on one side.

Fill the nose with black, let a little shpere on the extremity.

Make the mouth using two simple dashes with the pen tool (P).

Watch for the head/hair shape, this is actually one of the things that makes this character so recognizable, don't forget to turn it black, no strokes.

Draw the whiskers and then just copy, reflect, resize and place then on the other side.

Here's a cool thing about old cartoons: most of them had to deal with only two color and so it was natural to use contrast resources to show shapes. So, in order to show these whiskers, you got to create a white stroke with the pen tool (P), use command + Y/ctrl + Y to make easier to see the outlines.

Make the classic tongue and add a wrickle on the middle.

I also added a lot of minor details using the pen tool (P), jut to make the illustration more handmade.


Let's begin by drawing the black fill parts, draw the torso and then the two legs, you go to make a space between the right leg and the body to give the idea of distance.

Do the tail again using the pen tool (P), watch for the spaces between it an the body, they're necessary.


Draw only the outline of the axe, really piece of cake.

I know this will be a bit boring, but all the folling shapes were created using the pen tool (P). So, take your time and observe what they mean.


Ok, back to the body, using the ellipse tool (L) draw the belly.

Also add these details on this specific parts, I'm actually giving contrast to the shapes in order to make them look sharper.

Of course you probably was missing something on the feet, so add these simple dashes on them to make the fingers.

Also a simple detail on the tail.


I hate drawing hands, I admit. But these ones were pretty easy, just draw a couple of spheres using the ellipse tool (L), adjust then using the pencil tool (N). Use the same tool to draw the rest of the hand.

Remeber this brush: 5 pt. oval brush, my favorite, really easy to use and nice results while drawing characters.

The other hand is way easier due to it's angle, first draw the shape, then draw the details using the pen tool (P) and the ellipse tool (L).


Back to the axe, let's add these "white shades" unsing the pen tool (P) along the axe part.


This arm is piece of cake, taking advantage of the contrast you can basically draw this shape.

The other one just need some white wrinkles to appear, this shall be no great deal.


Last part, you can take a rest after this. So, this is quite simple, we're goin to make a BW gradient and then use the halftone efect used previously. Just make sure to turn the shadow elliptical.


you're going to make basically the same procedure on this character face. First draw the face using the pen tool (P).

Make the ear an the hear, don't make the other ear on the same shape.

Draw it separately , like this.

Command + Y / ctrl + Y to see only the outlines and create a stroke over this hear.

This are exactly the same eyes used in Scratchy. The nose is a simple ellipse created using the ellipse tool (L).

Add a few lines to make the mouth more funky.

Use the brush tool (B) to draw the mouth, then add a black fill inside, use the contrast to make the tongue.

Add a few more shapes to make it more loose.

The teeth are simple round shapes, you can achieve it using either the brush tool (B) or the pen tool (P).

And here's a final wrinckle on the ear.


Itchy wears a little coat, so let's start by drawing it using the brush tool (B).

Make the belly and the body.

Draw the other side of the coat.

Let's be biref with his legs, so draw the first one and just copy and reflect it.

Add the dashes to symbolize the toes.

Use the brush tool (B) to draw his tail.

Add dashes to ehance the contrast between the legs and body.

Make the sleeve using the brush tool (B).

Draw the arm.

Then the hand using the brush tool (B) again.

And simple detail to make the toe.

Use the brush tool (B) to make the other sleeve.

Make a black hole on it and then the arm.

Use the brsuh tool (B) to draw the hand shape.

Of course, you can just skip this part by copying the Scratchy hand.

Yep, copy the same shadow used previously.

The Trap

So first I draw this rope on Itchy's hand, the idea was to make something crossing the canvas.

On the other side, behind Scratchy, using the rectangle tool (M), I started drawing these big hammer.

Made the rope using the brush tool (B)

Added a lot of hachures to give depth on it.

Also a little engine, first I drawed this oval shape, then add a stroke on it and set a 4 pt dashed line.

Some outline, a shadow and a base over it.

This was supposed to be one of that fake arms trap that we used to see on old cartoons.

Added a hinge using only the ellipse tool (L).

Copy the Itchy hand or redraw it all over.

Finally the cog, first create a few circles using the ellipse tool (L).

Add some recangles, copy then and spin it.

Then finally add some 4 point stars using the star tool.

Final Step

Just to give a final retro look to it, let's add a few gradients. Right now you can hide the sketch layer and hide the rulers (command + ; / ctrl + ;).

Make a rectangle over the canvas and add a radial BW gradient on it, go to the transparency panel and choose the option called Multiply.

Make another gradient over the canvas, use a more golden gradient on this one, change he's opacity to 70% and then use Multiply.


As you see, even a simple illustration can be detailed as hell, but I hope you got a better understanding about contrast and know how about creating in BW. That's it guys, don't get frustrated If you didn't achieve the final result, do one part at time and do your best, I see you next time.

Download the Illustrator File

Download the Illustrator file used for this tutorial

Download the Mockup TV

Download the Mockup PSD used for this tutorial

marcos333's picture
Marcos Torres

I'm Marcos Torres, I'm a Graphic Artist from Brasil.


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