Vintage Typists | Skillshare Projects



Vintage Typists

Experience with Illustrator

I’ve self-taught myself Illustrator (along with some skillshare courses) and have used it heavily over the past six months in my work, but I’m taking this class as a way to ensure I have a solid foundation in the software.

Source Material

It was a lot of fun searching through vintage ads and posters, and I found quite a few I'd want to reproduce (I collected them in this pinterest board).  From the colors to the textures to their general styles, there's so much to learn from.  As a fan of Mad Men I couldn't resist these four typists (originally from an advertising brochure for the German pen and office supply company Pelikan).

 First Round: Simple Shapes

I began with the bottom typist, tackling her dress and body first.  While the women appear rather angular, I thought it’d be best to use the pen tool to capture that vintage feeling.  I felt that if I used shapes exclusively, it would wind up feeling a little too modern and just a bit off from the original piece.

Her hair, hands, eyes, and lips were made with the pen tool as well, but the earrings and necklace are made of perfect circles.  I’m leaving the details (hair highlights, finger and paper shadows) out until the next round.

I'm not fully happy with her hair yet, so I'll take a second crack at it once I finish the others.  (Since their hair is similar, I think I'll improve with each one.)

I moved counter clockwise to the blonde, and discovered I was having trouble convincing my mind that it was okay that this lady was sticking out at a 90 degree angle.  To make things easier on my head and my hands, I selected everything on my artboard, then rotated it -90 degrees.  Ah, much better.

I'm also sure a lot of us ran into the same problem: dealing with low picture quality.  To get the small details, like the finger shading and hair highlights, I zoomed in between 400-800%.  This meant I was working off an image looking like this:

It meant I had a hard time with some of these smaller details, so I found myself often zooming back to 100% to get perspective on what the image actually looked like, not which blobs I should be trying to immitate by based on such an enlarged perspective.


This was a great exercise to flex some illustrator muscles, combining use of shapes (as in the typewriter) and use of the pen tool (as in the hands, hair, and bodies) to respect the original hand drawn style.

The clean version in illustrator came out like this:

And I threw it into photoshop to add some texture to immitate the original, slightly distressed brochure.  While there I thought it'd be worth adding a little more color, and settled on a blue to make the warm tones pop.


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