In this tutorial you will learn how to create an astronomy-inspired retro poster. We will use the Clipping Mask a lot, as well as Warp Effects, and at the end we will apply a texture to add a vintage look to our poster. Feel free to browse a big collection of textures on GraphicRiver, and choose the one you like the most.
Without any further ado, let’s get started!
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. How to Create the Head of the Astronomy Child
In a new document in Adobe Illustrator, take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an ellipse. You’ll probably have a white fill color and a black stroke. Now you need to change it: delete the stroke color and set its fill color to R=234, G=226, B=206 on the Color panel (Window > Color). During this tutorial, we won’t use any stroke colors.
Then, add a smaller, darker ellipse (R=209, G=196, B=167) inside the first one.
While keeping that last ellipse selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path… A new dialogue window will pop up, where you need to enter Offset -8 px. By default, the options will be Joints: Miter, Miter limit: 4. Press OK. You just created a third ellipse, which is the face of the child. Change its fill color to R=178, G=131, B=107.
To create some bangs, we’ll take the Rectangle Tool (M). Draw a brown rectangle (R=99, G=64, B=55) and while keeping it selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arch. Enter the options presented below, and press OK.
Expand this shape: Object > Expand Appearance.
Put the bangs on the child’s face. Place them so that just the bottom part is on the face, and the upper part (the two top anchor points) will be beyond the face.
Then we will use the Clipping Mask. Select the face, make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F), cut that new copy off (Control-X), and place it over the bangs (Control-F).
To see the bangs more clearly under the newer face copy, it is better to delete the fill color of the face copy and use any stroke color (I marked it with red stroke).
Select the face copy (in my case it’s the red stroke ellipse) together with the bangs. Go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). Then the upper part of the bangs should be hidden.
For the eyes, make sure you have the same fill color as the bangs but without any stroke. Hit the Ellipse Tool (L) and, while holding down the Shift key, draw a small circle for the eye.
Create another small circle as the second eye. Make the second eye smaller, as we’re trying to create three-quarters of the visible face.
Now for the cheeks. Add a new small ellipse under the first eye (the fill color should be R=160, G=108, B=85).
Create a same ellipse for the second cheek. Rotate it slightly to the right, and make it a bit smaller.
Now for the mouth. Set the fill color to R=234, G=226, B=206 and create two ellipses: first a vertical one, and then a horizontal one. They have to overlap as shown in the image below.
Go to the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and press the Minus Front button while the two ellipses are selected. You’ll end up with a crescent shape, which is the mouth of the child.
Place the mouth between the two cheeks. Rotate it slightly to the right.
The helmets of spacesuits usually have parts that look like headphones, so let’s create them. Draw an ellipse on the left side of the head. The fill color should be R=209, G=196, B=167. Also rotate it a little to the left.
Add a smaller red (R=211, G=122, B=95) ellipse, which should also be rotated to the left.
Then add one more grey ellipse on other side of the child’s head, behind the head. Finally, add one more red ellipse behind the head, and behind the grey ellipse. The head is done!
2. How to Create the Body, Arms, and Legs
Let’s make the body. Take the Rounded Rectangle Tool and draw a rounded rectangle (R=234, G=226, B=206). While keeping it selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arc. In the new dialogue window, enter the options you see below.
Put the body behind the head.
Now for the arm. Using the same fill color as for the body, draw an ellipse with the help of the Ellipse Tool (L). Go to Effect > Warp > Arc. You can see the options below.
After that, expand it (Object > Expand Appearance).
Place the arm on the left side of the body.
Add a tiny ellipse as the thumb. In the image below it is marked by a black stroke color, which you don’t need in your illustration.
Make a copy of the whole arm, change its fill color to R=209, G=196, B=167, and create a vertical reflection of this new copy: while keeping it selected, press the O key on your keyboard and then press Enter.
In the new dialogue window, Axis Vertical is checked by default. Press Enter one more time. This maneuver should make a vertical reflection of the second arm. Remember this for your future projects: select the object you want to reflect, press the O key and then Enter twice, and that’s it.
Place the second arm behind the body (Control-X, Control-B).
Let’s make the belt for the spacesuit. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a rectangle. Then warp it: Effect > Warp > Arch.
Expand the shape.
Place the belt in the right place.
We’re going to create the leg in a similar way to the arm, but this time create an ellipse which should be slightly bigger and thicker.
Warp the ellipse (Effect > Warp > Arc), and then expand it.
Place the leg under the belt.
Make a copy of the belt, and change its fill color: using the Eyedropper Tool (I), take the color from the second arm and place it on the leg.
Add a small ellipse as shown below for the kneecap.
Now on to the foot. Create a new ellipse, which should have the same fill color as the body.
Add a rectangle with any color. The rectangle must cover the bottom part of the ellipse.
Select both shapes and, on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), press the Minus Front button. You’ll end up with the top part of the ellipse.
Place the foot on the leg.
Create a new copy of the whole leg, and make it darker: the fill color for the second leg should be R=209, G=196, B=167, and the fill color for the new kneecap should follow these numbers: R=191, G=171, B=130.
Place the second leg behind the body.
Group the child (right-click > Group) and set the illustration aside.
3. How to Create the Background
Hit the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard. In the new dialogue window, enter Width 850 px and Height 1000 px. Set the fill color to R=231, G=220, B=186.
While keeping the rectangle selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path… In the new dialogue window, enter Offset: -30 px, Joints: Miter, Miter limit: 4, OK. You’ll get a new rectangle aligned perfectly in the middle of the previous one. Change its fill color to R=67, G=74, B=81.
Hit the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a circle (it doesn’t have to be perfect) as shown in the image below. Just the upper part of the circle should overlap the background. Change its fill color to R=209, G=196, B=167. This will be the moon.
Now we’ll use a clipping mask again: select the dark blue rectangle, and make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Cut it (Control-X) and place it in front of everything (Control-F). Select the dark blue rectangle and the planet, as well as the new copy. Go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7).
Place the astronomy child on your poster.
Let’s add some craters, so that it will look more like a moon! Start with a horizontal ellipse (R=234, G=226, B=206).
Add a second ellipse over the previous one (R=191, G=171, B=130).
And add a third ellipse, which should overlap the previous one (R=209, G=196, B=167).
Make the Clipping Mask (Control-7) so the third ellipse will be inside the second one. This will be the crater.
Place a few craters on the planet. Feel free to rotate them and resize them.
It would be nice to have some stars in the sky, so let’s create them. Take the Star Tool and click on your artboard. Enter Radius 1: around 10 px, Radius 2: around 50 px, Points: 4. Set the fill color to R=234 G=226, B=206.
Create a copy of this star in front (Control-C, Control-F) and, while holding down the Shift key, rotate it 45 degrees. The Shift key allows you to rotate it exactly 45 degrees.
Spread the stars in the sky.
If you would like to, you can add some tiny circles near the stars with red, yellow and the light grey color we used for the stars. The circles will add a sparkling effect.
To add an old look to our poster, let’s apply a texture to it. I used one of these textures:
Place the texture over your poster so that it will stay inside the texture and under it. Make a Clipping Mask for the texture.
Finally, on the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency), lower the Opacity to around 15%. And we are done!
Great job! Today you’ve learned how to make Clipping Masks, which will help you in your future projects. I hope you like this tutorial and learned a lot of stuff—or maybe you just polished your skills. Now you know how to use Adobe Illustrator as well as a lot of effects and tools.