Giving your design a retro style

My last Pixelmator tutorial was inspired by the DVNO clip, which was full of design inspiration from the 80’s. But where does this inspiration come from? How can you give your work that retro feeling?

The first thing to do is finding references, images that represent those years. These images will give us an idea of the colors, the typography style, and the graphic elements that were mostly used in that period of time. In my case I chose the video-game influence in that decade.

In the early 1980s, the first generation of computer graphics in arcade games produced the popular Space Invaders arcade game (first released in 1978), followed by Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Frogger. Towards the end of the decade, home video game consoles began to outstrip the arcade game. The Japanese Famicom was released to the American public as the Nintendo Entertainment System (also known as the NES) in 1985 and renewed public interest in video games following a brief decline caused by the Video Game Crash of 1983. Wikipedia

For my Pixelmator tutorial for example, I've used some of these ideas like the perspective grid and the color palette using red, green, and blue with a dark background. Besides that, it was inspired by the DVNO clip which is full of 80's design.

Now if we take a look at the James White’s Atari design, we will see, again, where some of the elements came from and why his work gives us the feeling of the Atari’s era.

So the question is where can we find these images and references? Fortunately for us we, there are such sites as Flickr, Youtube, Wikipedia, where we can learn more about that time in history and check some pictures of products, designs, and videos that were produced on those days.

Below I list some images I used for reference to my Pixelmator tutorial.

More References

Written by

Fabio Sasso

I'm a Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. I am also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts.