Create a Zee Vintage Label on Illustrator


It seems that the past 3 years had a boom of retro design, starting with the "cosmic neon lightning" 80's aesthetic that I think most of you are already bored about. Not just because it became a trend, but also because everyone with a photoshop could emulate one. So here's the thing, this new retro wave more focused on 50's and 60's design and illustration seems to be really different, why? Because most of it is hand drawn, and when it to comes to drawing, you wouldn't believe how many designers can't do it.

Let's assume, the last 20 years were pretty revolutionary to design since the computer took a big role on productivity and creation. But he also created patterns and made things more similar, some designers can't even work "old school", since they rely too much on the computer and that's not good. Drawing is a really personal rechnique, you will ever found two persons who will drawn a flower the same way, even with they pratice it. I think that's a thing this trend is rescuing. But, before someone asks, today's tutorial it's not about drawing, it's more about emulating, but sure you should thing about this subject.

Step 1

First of all, let's open Adobe Illustrator and create a new canvas with 21 x 21 cm (8,27 x 8,27 inches).

You probably already know I'm addicted to guides, they're quite useful to get layout orientation, but not exactly a need to. But If you want to use some, just unhide them (command + R/ ctrl +R) and pull from each axys to the position desired.

You should divide your layer like these, use command + L / ctrl + L to create new layers.

Using the rectangle tool (M) make this big square that fits over the canvas.

Make a rectangle inside, using the previous tool.

And another black one inside the white one. You can use the pathfinder option called Minusfront here, but it's not really necessary.

Step 2

Make this thin rectangles around the borders, use the align tool to help you out.

Then go to the pathfinder panel and choose the option called Minus Front.

Uisng the ellipse tool (L) make a circle with the center exactly on the edge of the black square. If you're using guides this will be way easier to posicionate.

Again, using the Minus Front option, get ride of this part on the square.

Repeat the same procedure on the other corners.

Using the ellips tool (L)let's make this circles filling the space the orther one took. Select the cirlce and the frame, then go to the pathfinder panel and choose the option called DIvide.

You're going to get this:

Just repeat the same proceure on the other corners.

Step 3

You probably already kno the hard gradient trick (aka. hachures), he can be really handy when trying to create a stylish frame. Using the polygon tool create a triangle. Then resize it using the selection tool (V) to make it thiner.

Tunr it black and make a group of at least three triangles that fit the white rectangles space on the frame.

Copy and paste on the other spaces.

This is a new trick a learn recently: create a square using the rectangle tool (M), then use the pucker tool on it, just set all the options to be lesse heavier.

You should get these flower shape:

Place it on the corner, then create another one inside of it with a white fill. Also add a circle inside of the last one.

Let's make a circle using the ellipse tool (L), then another one but in the corner.

Also make some leaf shapes using the pen tool (P). Copy and paste all this shapes on the other corners.

Step 4

Let's make the type, you can get this font here. First make a circle using the ellipse tool (L), then use the type on path tool, you can find it on the text type menu, it' pretty easy to use. I just wrote "Design and Web Development", then press command + O / ctrl + O to turn the type into curves.

I just copied the previous flower ornament and changed the colors to give contrast. Paste one on each extremity of the type.

Let make a circle using a white fill and a black stroke on it.

Access the stroke panel and choose to use a stroke inside the path, also add 7,53pt dashed line on it.

Using a black fill, I wrote "by" using the same type.

I dig a lot those old icons used on books and ad's with a more simplified shapes. So, as a way to symbolize the Design and Web development, I decided to use a brush and a eye. Let's start by the eye, make two circles, one with a fill other with just a stroke.

More two circles inside of the white one.

Make this dashes around the iris using the pen tool (P).

Let's make a brush, first draw this pieces using the pen tool (P).

Using the previous tool, let's add this reflexes.

Now duplicate all the shapes and just right-click on it, go to Transform > Reflect, turn the Vertical Axis.

Step 5

You can grab Snake Oil Font at Legacy of Defeat, I must say I'm addicted to this font. First you should write "ZEE", then curve it before anything command + O / ctrl + O.

Make a lot of thin rectangles using the rectangle tool (M), then use the align tools to keep an order on them. Doube-click on the letter of the type (not the shadow areas) and duplicate it.

Make a clipping mask all over the rectangles using the letter shape (command + 7 / ctrl + 7), repeat this procedure on other letters.

Also added a simple detail using the pen tool (P).

Step 6

Let's a make a trapezium using the rectangle tool (M), then adjust it using the direct selection tool (A). Duplicate it and sue the option called Unite.

I made tis folds on the ribbon by simply using the pen tool (P) and space between the shapes.

Add some of the hacures used previously. Just don't forget to add a clipping mask on them and using the direct selection tool (A) leave a space between it and the original shape.

You probably already familiar with the blend tool. In order to get a hard gradient using it, you just need to make two rectangles, one large and one thin. Then click on the tool icon and a panel will pop up, set spacing as Specified Steps and use just 5.

Grab the result and place it on the ribbon letting, duplicate it and reflect it. Then finally add a clipping mask over it.

OLd trick: Write Est. 2004 using this font. Then write agian over using a black fill, just to make a hard shadow.

Step 7

We need to add some grain in order to give that used look. We will need a little help from Photoshop so. Open it and make a squared canvas, place the whole art as a Smart Object.

Get this book texture here, using the magic wand (W), select the texture of it randomly. Back to the Smart Object layer, use this selection and create a mask, if necessary use invert the selection (command + I/ ctrl + I).


Trying to simulate vintage design is more about rethinking how people would create such graphics in a era without computers and, of course, lots of references. Most of the things done on the 50's and 60's were hand made, even If they look really sharp and clean, the methods and techniques were pretty basic. So part of trying to reach this aesthetic is to going back to what i call fundamental: drawing technique. If you don't know how to draw what you do on the computer, you should definitely worry about, because a good designer can't rely only on a tool. That's it. thanks for you time, hope you enjoyed it.

Download the Illustrator File

Click here to download the Illustrator file used for this tutorial.

Download the Photoshop File

Click here to download the Illustrator file used for this tutorial.