All of us have a nostalgia sometimes for the past: for the people we knew, some places, or things. Living in a high-tech digital age, we can miss something like an old-fashioned grandma’s pitcher or an old toy you owned as a child. Because you still remember how it was broken and you still want to cry. Just don’t cry now—I still need you to pass this tutorial!
Wipe off your tears and think about… something like… like a retro TV standing on a cabinet. I will show you how to create such an illustration using basic shapes, some warp effects, and the Offset Path.
1. How to Create the Retro TV
Open Adobe Illustrator and create a new document (File > New) with 850 x 850 px Width and Height. We will start to create a TV shape. Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a light grey rounded rectangle. Set the fill color as shown in the image below. You do not need the stroke color for your rectangle—it’s only there for better visibility.
Next, we will apply the Inflate effect to this rounded rectangle. Go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. Enter the options you see below. Expand this shape (Object > Expand Appearance).
Now we will make a smaller copy of the transformed rounded rectangle placed exactly in the middle of the original one. While keeping the shape selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path, enter the negative number -9, and press OK. You will get a smaller copy of the shape in front of the original one. Change the color of this copy as shown in the image.
Next create a smaller copy of this shape. Select the second copy and again, go to Object > Path > Offset Path, and enter the negative number -4. Change the color of the smaller copy to dark grey.
And finally, using the same method, make the smallest copy of the shape, which will have the Offset Path -2. You should have four shapes in total.
Now let’s create the screen for the TV. Create a copy of any grey shape and place it in front. Make it smaller, and change the color to a darker shade. Next create a smaller copy of this shape: select the shape, go to Object > Path > Offset Path, and enter the negative number -2. Change the color of the created copy to a bluish grey.
Let’s give our TV screen more volume. Create an ellipse by using the Ellipse Tool (L), which overlaps the bluish shape. The color of this ellipse does not matter, as it is used as a cutter.
Now make a copy of the bluish shape in front (Control-C, Control-F) and, while keeping it selected with the overlapped ellipse, press the Minus Front button on the Pathfinder panel. This action leaves us with the part of the ellipse in front of the bluish screen. Finally change the color of the upper part of the screen to a lighter color.
Let’s add a speaker to our TV. Create a small dark grey circle (for an even circle, use the Ellipse Tool (L) while holding down the Shift key). Select this circle and while holding the Shift and Alt keys, drag it to the right. This way, you’ll create a second copy of the circle, which will be horizontally aligned.
While the newly created circle is selected, press the Control-D buttons three more times to repeat the previous step and create a group of circles exactly the same distance from each other.
Now select the line of circles and while holding the Shift and Alt keys, drag them down. And again, press the Control-D buttons to repeat the previous step. Do this as much as you need to get a result close to the one presented below.
In order to move the objects with more precision, we need to enable the Smart Guides. So, let’s go to View > Smart Guides (Control-U). Draw a circle with grey fill color and no stroke color. To make an even circle, use the Ellipse Tool (L) while holding down the Shift key. Create a copy of this circle in front (Control-C, Control-F), make it smaller, and be sure it stays exactly in the middle of the original one. For the smaller circle, change the fill color to the light grey.
Next, using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a grey rectangle and place it exactly in the middle of the circle. Create a copy of this rectangle in front (Control-C, Control-F), decrease its width (using the Selection Tool (V)), place it exactly in the middle of the original one, and change its color to the light grey.
Now place the manual switch on the right side of the TV. You can slightly rotate it to the side, to have the rectangle not precisely in the vertical position. To highlight this manual switch, we will create a dark grey circle behind it. After that, create a copy of the manual switch together with the highlighting and place it below, as shown in the image. The second copy of the manual switch can be slightly rotated in a different direction.
Now we will create the antenna. Let’s start by drawing a thin, vertically oriented, light grey ellipse. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move its left and right anchor points down. Create a small circle and attach it to the sharper end of the ellipse as shown in the image below. Make a copy of it to have an another antenna (Control-C, Control-V). Add an oval on the bottom.
And again, you do not need the stroke color because it is only there for better visibility.
Place our antenna on top and behind the TV (Control-X, Control-B). As the outer shape of our TV does not have any stroke color, we need to emphasize that the antenna is behind and is separated from the TV. Therefore, create a very thin horizontal oval and place it on the line of intersection between the antenna and the body of the TV.
Now let’s create the TV legs. First create a grey rectangle, and then take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move the two lower anchor points to the left. The lower anchor points should be closer to each other than the upper anchor points are.
Place the TV leg in its place. To make another leg, select the left leg, right-click > Transform > Reflect, and then choose Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move the copy of the leg to the right. Our retro TV image is ready!
2. How to Create the Cabinet
Of course, in past times, TVs were heavy and quite large. They were not hung on a wall, but placed on cabinets or tables. Therefore, today we will place our TV on a cabinet.
Let’s start with a brown rectangle (Rectangle Tool (M)). To make a darker rectangle inside the brown one, again we will use the Offset Path: while keeping the brown rectangle selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and enter Offset -10 px. Change the color of the created rectangle to dark brown.
Again, select the dark brown rectangle and go to Object > Path > Offset Path and enter Offset -3 px. Now, change its color to another shade of brown.
Let’s add a texture to the doors of our cabinet. Create a very thin, light brown ellipse, which should fit into the smallest rectangle. The Smart Guide, which you activated in one of the previous steps, will be really useful here. Place the oval inside the smallest rectangle on the left side.
Make a copy of this ellipse horizontally aligned (drag it to the right while holding the Shift and Alt keys). Now use the Control-D buttons to repeat the action as many times as necessary to fill the rectangle.
To make two doors for our cabinet, create a thin darker brown rectangle and place it in the middle of the cabinet, as shown in the image below.
To make the handle, create a brown even circle. Create a copy of this circle in front (Control-C, Control-F), and make it smaller. Be sure it stays exactly in the middle (use the Smart Guides). Now, change the color of the newly created circle to a lighter brown. Make a third copy of the circle, but this time just a little smaller than the light brown one (Control-C, Control-F). The color of the third smallest circle will be slightly darker than the second one.
For your convenience, group all the circles together (right-click > Group). These three circles will be our handle. Place the handle on the left door. When shrinking it down, make sure to hold the Shift button. Make a copy of the handle for the right door: hold the Shift and Alt keys and move the handle to the right.
The legs of our cabinet will be made in a similar way as for the TV. For that, create a brown rectangle, and then while using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move the two lower anchor points to the left. The lower anchor points should be closer to each other than the upper points are. Place the leg on the left side of the cabinet.
Finally, make another leg: select the left leg, right-click > Transform > Reflect, choose Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move the copy of the leg to the right. Our cabinet is ready!
3. How to Create the Background
Create a blue square 850 px Width and Height, by using the Rectangle Tool (M). First, take the tool, and then click on your artboard and enter the necessary options.
To add some dimensions to the scene, create a darker ellipse in the bottom part of the square.
Finally, place the created TV and the cabinet in front of the background. However, it will be easier to put the background behind all the objects (Control-X, Control-B).
4. How to Create the Jar of Flowers
Now we will add a pretty bouquet of flowers in a mason jar! To make the jar, we will start with a grey rounded rectangle. Remember that the stroke here is for better visibility.
Add a small rectangle on the upper part of the rounded rectangle and another small horizontally aligned rounded rectangle on top as the neck of the jar. Unite these shapes using the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel.
To add some water in the jar, create another copy of the shape of the vase by using the Offset Path (enter the value as -6). You will get two copies inside one another.
Now lower the opacity of these two copies: on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), you have to click on the word “Opacity” and in the pop-up menu, decrease its Opacity to 50%.
Now we will cut away a part of the inner shape. For the cutter, create a rectangle with any fill color you want. Make sure that the rectangle overlaps the top part of the inner shape. While keeping these two shapes selected, press the Minus Front button on the Pathfinder panel. We will end up with the bottom part of the shape, which will represent water in the jar.
Place the jar on our cabinet near the TV.
Finally, add some flowers into our jar. You can find out how to create these flowers in one of my previous tutorial. Place your flowers behind the jar. You’re done!
And we are finished! Well done! I hope you enjoyed learning some of the processes and shortcuts during the creation of this image in Adobe Illustrator. As always, feel free to share your project and ask questions in the comments section below. Happy designing!