How to Create a Vintage Seasonal Greeting Card in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating
In this tutorial, you will learn how to create an elegant vintage greeting card with a fawn illustration. You will use a sketch drawn directly in Adobe Illustrator and then outline it with the Pen Tool. You will also learn to draw holly berries using basic shapes, and add a simple striped background. Let's imagine a snowy forest, wild animals and one tiny fawn, jumping directly into your artwork...
Open your Adobe Illustrator and create a new document (Control-N). Today, we will start from the background. So, take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle with 600 pixels width and 800 height. Set the fill color at R=141 G=183 B=204.

creating the background

Then create one more copy in the front, and make it darker (R=117 G=170 B=191) and narrower. Be careful to not make it shorter, just narrower.

creating the stripe of the background

Keeping the blue stripe selected, hold the Shift and Alt keys, and move this stripe to the right. Then keep pressing Control-D to repeat your last movement. Stop when you fill up the light blue rectangle.
Now we need to align everything. Select just the dark blue stripes, right-click the mouse and select Group. Holding the Shift key, select the light blue background together with the stripes. Go to the Align panel (Window > Align) and press the Horizontal Align Center button.
Let's name the layer where you drew the background. For this, go to the Layers panel (Window > Layers), double-click on the existing layer, and in the newly appeared window, type striped background, and click OK.

creating the striped background

Create another layer and call it oval background. Lock the "striped background" layer (simply click on the empty gray square where the lock icon will appear).
On the new layer we will draw another background. Hit the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an oval with fill color R=214 G=234 B=230.

creating the oval background

Keeping the light blue oval selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path. In the new dialogue window, enter Offset 15 px, Joins Miter, Miter Limit 4, and press OK. Delete the fill color from the new oval and set it as a stroke color. Make the stroke thicker simply by increasing the Stroke Weight on the Stroke panel.

creating the Offset Path of the oval background

Keep the oval with no fill selected and go to the Stroke panel. Check the Dashed Line box there. Put 12 pt in the Dash box, and make the stroke thicker.

making the dashed lines background

Image 1. Be sure to delete the stroke color and set the fill color to R=158 G=42 B=77. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a circle while holding the Shift key.
Image 2. Let's create a sepal (the base of the berry) from an oval (R=18 G=29 B=56). You will need to get sharp corners with the help of the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Click on the top and bottom anchor points. Keep the ellipse selected and choose the Rotate Tool (R). Click the Enter key on your keyboard to bring up the dialogue box. Enter 90o and press Copy.
Image 3. Place the sepal on the berry.

creating the holly berry

Create different berries by simply making them lighter or darker. Group every berry (right-click the mouse > Group).

creating different berries

Image 1. Let's create the leaf. Start with the Ellipse Tool (L) and set the fill color to R=50 G=65 B=99. Keeping the ellipse selected, go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points. Then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat and set the slider to -25%. Expand the leaf (Object > Expand Appearance). After that, use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to get the nice leaf shape by moving the handles.
Image 2. Take one part from the sepal of the berry you created before (the narrow, sharp oval) and use it as a stalk for this leaf. Group the leaf together (right-click > Group).

creating the leaf

Arrange the berries and leaves on the oval background. You can follow the image below or create it as you want!

the berry and leaf arrangement

Lock the layer "oval background" and create another layer called fawn sketch.
I made this sketch directly in AI, using the Pencil Tool (N) and the Eraser Tool (Shift-E). So draw it by copying the image below, or create your own beautiful fawn. Double-click on the Pencil Tool (N) and let's adjust the options. In the new dialogue window, under the Tolerances section, make Fidelity 3 pixels and Smoothness around 30%. Then look at the Stroke panel. Set Weight 1 pixels and check the Round Cap button.
After finishing your drawing, select everything in this layer (Control-A), go to the Transparency panel, and make the Opacity around 20%. Lock the "fawn sketch" layer.

drawing the fawn sketch

Create a new layer called fawn under the "fawn sketch" layer.
Now we need to draw the fawn in color using the Pen Tool (P). We'll start with something easy: take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an even circle. Set the fill color at R=132 G=44 B=59 with no stroke.

drawing the head 1

Using the Pen Tool (P) add the anchor points to the circle, and using the Direct Selection Tool (A) move the anchor points to create the deer face.

drawing the head 2

Create the ear in the same way as we created the berry sepal.

drawing the ear 1

Add more details to the ear. The smaller part of the ear fill color is R=206 G=142 B=142, and the smallest R=158 G=42 B=77.

drawing the ear 2

Add another ear and send it to the back (Control-X, Control-B). Set the fill color at R=104 G=30 B=46.

drawing the second ear

Now let's add the eye. Holding the Alt key, drag the smaller pink part of the ear where the eye should be. Create another, smaller copy of it by copying and pasting, and set the fill color at R=18 G=29 B=56. Add a tiny circle to show a sparkle in the eye.

drawing the eye

Draw a circle using the Pen Tool (P) as in the image below (fill color R=206 G=142 B=142).

drawing the face 1

Select the head and make one more copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Holding the Shift key, select this new copy together with the circle from the previous step. Go to the Pathfinder panel and press the Intersect button.

drawign the face 2

Using the Pen Tool (P), create the nose of the deer (fill color R=18 G=29 B=56).

drawing the nose

Create the body with the Pen Tool (P).

drawing the body

Draw the cute tail.

drawing the tail

Continue using the Pen Tool (P) to draw the hind leg.

drawing the hind leg

Take the Eyedropper Tool (I) and take the fill color from the back ear. Draw the second hind leg.

drawing the second hind leg

Draw the front leg (fill color R=132 G=44 B=59).

drawing the front leg

And the second front leg. Fill color should be the same as the second hind leg.

drawing the second front leg

Following the image below, draw the lower parts of the legs. For the front and hind legs that are closer to you, use the fill color R=206 G=142 B=142, and for the further ones use the fill color R=181 G=111 B=111.

adding some parts of the legs

In the same way as the previous step, draw the hooves. For the closer hooves use the fill color R=18 G=29 B=56, and for the further ones R=12 G=22 B=43.

drawing the hooves
See how your fawn looks now!

the whole fawn how it looks now

Let's add a few more details. Holding the Alt key, shift the body of the deer slightly diagonally, as in the image below. Select the body (not the copy you just created) and make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Keep it selected, and now also select the copy you moved diagonally. On the Pathfinder panel, press the Minus Front button.

drawing the light part of the body

Color the new shape in R=206 G=142 B=142. Place the whole head in front of everything (Control-X, Control-F). Also be sure that all the legs are where they should be.

coloring the light part of the body

Take the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B), (stroke color R=206 G=142 B=142), and draw some of the stains that deer usually have on their back.

drawing the fawn stains

Select the whole fawn and place him on the card.

placing th fawn on the background

Take the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B) and add snow. Make the stroke color R=247 G=251 B=246 with no fill. Double-click on the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B) on the Tools panel. Adjust the Options: Tolerances Fidelity 3 pixels, Smoothness 30 percent; in the section Default Brush Options, make Size 10 pt Fixed, Angle 0o Fixed, Roundness 100% Fixed. OK. Draw the snow.

drawing the snow 1

Add snow on the head of the deer and on the ears.

drawing the snow 2

And... let it snow!

drawing the snow 3

Congrats to all vintage card lovers! You just made an elegant seasonal illustration! Play with color and arrangements to create something new, and try adding text greetings. Or just leave how it is, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.


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