In this tutorial you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool to create a retro illustration with realistic photos hanging on a clothesline.
How to Create Retro Polaroids on a Clothesline in Adobe Illustrator
Let’s get started!
1. How to Create the Clothes Pegs
Create a brown rectangle. Then, take the Mesh Tool (U) and following the picture below, create a mesh grid. Color certain nodes with certain colors, as seen in the screenshot.
Continue with the coloring of the clothespin. Make sure to color the right Mesh nodes!
Follow the steps below to make the clothespin more realistic.
Finish the wooden part of the item with these three steps.
Now, on to the metal part of the pin!
Create a line in the shape of an L with the Pen Tool (P) and apply a gradient to its stroke.
Go to Object > Expand to create a mesh out of the shape.
Create a node on the bend of our object, making a new row of mesh. It will be helpful later.
Unfortunately, the mesh has way too many columns to work with right now, so let’s reduce them.
Using the Mesh Tool (U), create a new node in a column you want to remove, and press Delete. Like this, you won’t be deleting the original rows—we will need them in order to color it effectively.
Continue removing columns, until there are just three left: two on the sides, and one in the middle. Make sure you don’t accidentally remove the rows!
Stretch the nodes on the top of the shape to give a sharp edge.
Make the other end of the shape rounder.
Color the edges of the shape with a darker green and create some extra mesh nodes in the indicated positions.
Create even more nodes, and then color the nodes in the middle with white to create highlights.
Create a long, narrow, brown rectangle for the side of the clothespin.
Place the metal part onto the wooden part of the clothespin.
Place the narrow rectangle from Step 14 onto the side of the pin.
We’re done with our clothespin!
2. How to Create the Mesh Rope
Create a part of the rope with Mesh, following the steps below.
Create copies of the shape and join them into a rope.
Continue copying the parts of the clothesline until your rope is about as long as indicated below.
Go to Effect > Warp > Arc and set the Bend value to 25%.
Apply Object > Expand Appearance to keep the bent shape of the rope.
Right-click on the object and select Transform > Reflect.
Reflect the shape Horizontally.
Repeat the step, but this time reflect the rope Vertically.
Finally, shrink the width of the rope a little bit.
3. How to Create the Photos
Create a beige rectangle with a mesh grid and color it like a piece of old paper.
Now, create a dark brown rectangle and add it onto the old paper.
Place the pin on top of our polaroid.
Let’s create the shadow for the clothespin!
First, create two colored rectangles, one beige and one brown. Set the Opacity of the beige rectangle to 0%. Proceed to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Set the mode to Specified Steps and the number of steps to 30.
Finally, select both rectangles and go to Object > Blend > Make.
Place the shadow to the right of the clothespin. Don’t forget to “hide” it under the pin and the black part of the photo by adjusting the order of the items in the Layers panel.
You can also rotate the pin a little bit, as I’ve done below.
Create four copies of the whole group and place them in a half circle onto our rope.
4. How to Create the Background
Create a mesh sky out of a blue rectangle.
Place the clothesline onto the blue background.
Make sure the ends of the rope go out of bounds of our sky.
Then create a rectangle, following the size of the blue background, select all the items, and proceed to Right-click > Make Clipping Mask.
Now, if you want to add clouds to your illustration, I’ll write a tutorial on that soon, so check my instructor profile to see when that is published, and learn how to create realistic clouds!
I’ve used a square mesh for the cloud in this tutorial instead of the original ellipse.
After you’ve finished your cloud, go to Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Colors and set the value of Blue to -10% to give the cloud a more retro look.
Arrange the clouds as shown in the pictures.
Every time you place a set of clouds with the indicated opacity, turn off the visibility of the group by clicking the eye icon next to it in the Layers panel.
Turn the visibility of all clouds back on (click the eye icon in the Layers panel) to see the end result.
Place the clouds behind the clothesline, and you’re done!
Awesome Work, You’re Now Done!
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and will be extremely happy to see any results in the comments below!