For this week's tutorial I will share something new that I am still trying to learn how to do it. It's the retro/futuristic/geometric illustration style I've been seeing more and more often. This illustration is inspired by the work of Justin Mezzell, Matthew Lyons and Dan Matutina. I also see that James White has been experimenting with this style as well. In my case I will try to share a simple and easy way to achieve the style using Illustrator and Photoshop. As it is my first attempt, bear with me and let me know if you have any tips to improve it.

So in this tutorial I will show you how to create a Retro Futuristic Illustration using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I won't add a lot of details on how to create the shapes, it's more like a simple walkthrough on how I create the illustration.

Step 1

Open Illustrator and start creating the composition. As I am learning I used an old illustration for reference so I could understand exactly what give the illustration the style I want. In this case the vanishing points, perspective and very geometric forms are the secret. I started creating everything in greyscale. Once I had the basic objects I moved to the color part.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 2

Another important thing was to understand the color palette that would give the effect I wanted. Once again, I got one illustration from Justin Mezzell and start using some of the colors he used to see If I could achieve the same effect.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 3

After coloring, it was time to add some dimensionality to the image. The first and most important thing is the use of hard shadows. Most of these designs are inspired by old ads and architecture illustrations where hard shadows were vey common. To create the basic shadows I used black at 10% with Multiply for the Blend Mode. I also added some frames for the windows to create the 3D effect.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 4

To increase a little bit more the realism I added some subtle gradients as you can see in the image below. For the gradient colors I used white and black at 10% with multiply for the opacity.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 5

To create the clouds I used basic circles and pathfinder to unite them into one object. After that I apply the same subtle gradient. One I had a basic cloud, I started duplicating it and playing with sizes and angles.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 6

For the car it was pretty much the same thing, just some angular shapes, not using curves at all. At this point I had understood a little bit more of geometric illustraitons so I started deviating from the original illustration I was using for reference. Notice the reflection on the windows, that was a really nice touch that I saw in the work of Justin Mezzell as well.z

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 7

Time to go to Photoshop to add some effects. Copy the composition from Illustrator and paste it in Photoshop. I am using 2880x1800 for the size.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 8

I always paste vectors as Smart Objects, so I can always tweak them without destroying everything. So the first thing to do is go to Filter>Filter Gallery>Difuse Glow. Use the values below to add some nice grain to the image.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 9

Duplicate the layer and then go to Filter>Filter Gallery>Brush Strokes>Angled Strokes. Use the values in the image below. The idea here is to add some brush deformations. The best thing would be do that by hand, but for the tutorial we will stick to filters.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 10

Reduce the opacity of the layer with the angled strokes to 80% with Lighten for the Blend Mode.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 11

With the Brush Tool (B) and a very soft brush, paint a nice orange spot to create a sunset effect. I used Overlay for the Blend Mode at 100%

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 12

Duplicat the illustraiton layer and then go to Filter>Distort>Mezzotint. Use Fine Dots.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 13

Go to Image>Adjustmetns>Desaturate. Then change the Blend Mode to Color Dodge. You will have something like the image belowl.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 14

Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels. Reduce the white input levels to 100 or a bit more. The goal here is to make the light grains almost invisible.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Step 15

With the Eraser Tool (E) you can delete some areas of the grain layer to make it less strong. I tried to hide the grains on the lighter areas and make it visible on the dark ones.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Conclusion

You can also do the same as the previous steps for the dark grains to create another layer with lighter grains. It will make the effect a little bit better and more real. Your design after this will be pretty much done and as I said, it was the first time I tried something like this. I am still learning and it is up to you to take it from here and make it perfect. If you do so, share with us, we would love to see what you can come up with.

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Retro Futuristic Artowrk in Illustrator and Photoshop

Download Photoshop file

Download the Photoshop file used for this tutorial

About the author of this post

Abduzeedo is a blog about design. There are all sorts of articles for those who want to look for inspiration. Also you will find very useful tutorials for the most used applications out there, with a special selection of Photoshop Tutorials and Illustrator Tutorials. Of course there are other softwares conteplated like Pixelmator, Fireworks, and web design tutorials.