The secrets of successful retro art

Let's take a final look at some of the essential techniques required to produce convincing vintage artwork.

a I Starting with an appropriate background image is always helpful. Here an old library book was used, but it can be anything that has a nostalgic feel to it. A background image or texture with an authentic feel will prove much more successful than a flat, solid colored canvas.

b I Using alpha channels as the basis for selections, which are in turn used to mask groups, is an excellent way to create convincing wear and distress. Using appropriate imagery within your channels is very important. Try to choose images containing random patterns and textures, as realistic wear and tear is never orderly.

c I Moving layers that contain fill colors offsets the registration between outlines and solid color fills. This poor registration is a telltale sign of quick and dirty printing, resulting in a distinct look that is about as far away from digital technology as you can get.

d I The halftone screen effect tends to dominate the overall composition in terms of stylistic methods used. It really adds an authentic feel to the finished art, reminiscent of vintage printing methods.

e I Incorporating scanned ballpoint pen art into the composition adds a scratchy, hand drawn feeling, which contributes to the non-digital overall feel of the illustration.

As shown by the examples on this page, working within the framework described in this chapter allows you to create convincing retro art effects time and time again. As you can see, even when sticking to the formula described here, there is room for improvisation within each illustration, making each one stylistically similar, yet unique at the same time.

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