How to design a Retro Flower Pattern

How to design a retro flower pattern

In this Adobe Illustrator Tutorial, I will teach you, ‘How to design a Retro Flower Pattern’.



Introduction

If we look at the Retro era, it was dominantely infused with emotions relating to ‘Nature’, ‘Power’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Peace’. They were the ‘Floral Design’ generation which had a distinct decor style too.

The mood of the decade was ‘Vibrant’, ‘Bright’ and ‘Wild’ as it was influenced by the Hippie movement and Psychedelia.

The 60s were an astronishing time for artists to dip their artistic creativity into experimental styles with dazzling floral patterns, pop arts etc.

The art was reduced to its essential form and it resulted in ‘flat’, ‘crisp’ artworks which were infused with bright colors and bold graphics.

Designs were experimented with optical tricks, distortion, fluid swirls and wraps.


Set up a New Document

I will open New Document dialog box and change the following values:

PropertyValue
UnitsPixels
Width1200 px
Height2400 px (double of Width)
Color ModeCMYK
Raster EffectsHigh (300ppi)
Only these properties were changed
New Document dialog box in illustrator

Retro Color Palettes

The Retro era color palette, started with nature-inspired colors like yellow, orange and avocado green. Then the decade went into full bloom with vibrant hues of reds, fuchsia pinks and tangerine orange and later evolved into wilder, bright neon-like colors.

Some common color tones that were used include:

  • Greens: Pea Green, Olive, Drab
  • Reds: Burnt Sienna, Rust, Pink
  • Yellows: Maize, Daisy, Sunflower
  • Blues: Ultramarine, Celtic, Cerulean Blue
  • Oranges: Saffron, Peach, Tangerine, Harvest Gold
  • Psychedelic Colors: Hot Pink, Bright Yellow, Lime Green, Sky Blue
Retro color palette - 1
Retro color palette - 2

You can download the vector file of above images here.

We can save these colors as Color Group in swatches. Select all the Color Palettes. Open Swatches Panel and click on Add New Color Group icon shown below.

Swatches panel in illustrator

New Color Group dialog box will open up as shown below.

New Color Group dialog box

I have already changed the name of Color Group and I will also check the Convert Process to Global checkbox. This checkbox brings two changes:

  1. The Colors in this Color Group will have a small inverted triangle at the bottom-right corner.
  2. Whenever these colors are applied, they get linked to this particular swach. Hence later if we change the color in Color Group, it will automatically change color from artwork wherever applied.
New Color Groups added to the Swatches

How to Create Retro Flowers

During that era, Designers began to embrace the symbolism of flowers in fabrics, textiles and design as a part of the free love, psychedelic movement. The designs back then were mostly geometric and consisted of simple floral artwork.

The pattern style were characterized as being very cheerful, colorful and bold. The florals were mainly large & geometric and they featured stylized graphics.

As for the colors, most floral prints were saturated in hues of red, purple and hot pink and complemented with vibrant hues of bright greens, oranges and ultramarine blue.

We will create six flower set for the pattern.


Step – 1

For the first flower, select the Ellipse Tool (L) and open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). In the stroke panel, select Cap: Round Cap and Corner: Round Join.

Set the Stroke and Fill color to #339E90. Stroke weight to 129 pt, check the Dashed Line box and set the dash to 0 pt and gap to 129 pt.

Create an Ellipse of about 350px.

retro flower

Step – 2

Now, we will expand the path: Object > Path > Expand.

Then Object > Expand Appearance which will open the Expand dialog box.

Make sure Fill and Stroke are ticked and click OK.

Open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). Apply Shape Modes: Unite. It will unify the selected objects into a single shape.

Expand apllied to flower

Step – 3

Use Selection Tool to select the flower shape. Hold SHIFT & ALT keys to constrain the movement and duplicate the selection by dragging the cursor down.

Open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and apply #157F7F color and 3 pt Oval brush at 2 pt Stroke Weight to the duplicated shape.

Then with the Selection Tool drag the outline over the original shape and use the Rotate Tool to give it a slight turn with reference point at center.

Applying brush stroke and rotate

Step – 4

Now we will create the flower pistil. Again, take Ellipse Tool with Stroke and Fill color of #F0C93C.

Create a 103 px ellipse with Stroke weight of 81 pt. Tick the Dashed Line box and set the dash to 0 pt and gap to 81 pt.

Then create another ellipse with Stroke and Fill color of #E5AB3A, Stroke weight of 44.93 pt and set the dash to 0 pt and gap to 44.93 pt. It may go to approximate values as per our document.

With the Selection Tool, manually move both floral elements to the inside of the larger petal shape.

retro flower
retro flower

Step – 5

Let’s create another flower, take the Ellipse Tool and apply a 2 pt Stroke Weight with white Fill and Stroke color of #F0C93C.

Apply 3 pt Oval brush from the Brushes panel.

Then Object > Path > Add Anchor Points and Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat which will be set at 51%.

retro flower

Step – 6

For inner parts of the flower, select Ellipse Tool with Stroke and Fill color of #A5B244, create a 55 px ellipse with the Stroke Weight set to 34.8 pt. (It may go into approximate value because of document type and size.)

Check the Dashed Line box and set the dash to 0 pt and gap to 34.8 pt.

Then move the new shape to the center of the flower petals. Now we have our second flower ready.

Retro flower

Step – 7

Now, we will create one more flower. Select Polygon Tool and click once on the artboard to open the Polygon dialog box, set the Radius to about 260 px, Sides to 5 and click OK.

Stroke to be null and Fill color should be #D88425. Then apply a Pucker & Bloat effect. Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat which should be set around 95%.

Retro flower

Step – 8

We will select the petal shape, Copy and Paste to Front using shortcuts CTRL + C for copy and CTRL + F for paste in front.

Remove Fill color, apply 1 pt Stroke Weight with Stroke color of #F0C93C.

Select Ellipse Tool with a Fill color of #F0C93C and draw a small ellipse of 55 px on the inside of the flower.

retro flower

Step – 9

Again, creating petals for another flower. Take the Ellipse Tool. In the Stroke panel, set the Stroke weight to 103.5 pt, Cap: Round Cap and Corner: Round Join and set Stroke and Fill color to #F0C93C. Check the Dashed Line box and set the dash to 0 pt and gap to 103.6 pt.

After creating it, change the Ellipse Tool settings to null Stroke and Fill color of #D88425 and draw an ellipse of 136 px inside the flower.

retro flower

Step – 10

This time we will add scallop decoration to the inside of the flower. With the inside shape selected, Copy and Paste to Front.

Hold SHIFT & ALT keys to constrain the size and scale up the shape slightly. Apply null Fill, 2.4 pt Stroke weight with a Stroke color of #339E90 and a 3 pt Oval brush.

Object > Path > Add Anchor Points twice and then Object > Path > Add Anchor Points and Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat which will be set at 14%.

retro flower

Step – 11

Now, for creation of the next flower, take the Polygon Tool.

Click once on the artboard to open the Polygon dialog box, set the Radius to about 273 px, Sides to 7 and click OK.

Apply a 3 pt Oval brush at 2 pt Stroke Weight with #A5B244 as Fill color and Stroke color of #339E90.

Object > Path > Add Anchor Points to the polygon shape, and apply an Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat which will be set at 95%.

retro flower

Step – 12

Select Polygon Tool. Click once on the artboard to open the Polygon dialog box and set the Radius to about 205 px, Sides to 7 and click OK.

Apply 3 pt Oval brush at 2 pt Stroke Weight, with #A5B244 Fill and Stroke color of #339E90.

Apply an Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat which will be set at 95% and use the Selection Tool to manually place the flower inside the bigger flower petals.

Now, select Ellipse Tool set a null Stroke and a Fill color of #F2CC22 and draw a small ellipse of about 44 px inside the flower. It should look similar to the image below.

retro flower

Step – 13

For the last flower, again, select the Polygon Tool. Open the Polygon dialog box and set the Radius to about 295 px, Sides to 6 and click OK.

Apply null Stroke and a Fill color of #D06728.

Apply an Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat which will be set at 95%

retro flower

Step – 14

Select the petal shape and Copy and Paste to Front. Scale the shape down while holding SHIFT & ALT keys to constrain the size and apply Fill color of #D88586.

Then again, Copy and Paste to Front, the selected shape. Apply a Stroke color of #C6371F with a 3 pt Oval brush and a 1 pt Stroke Weight.

Take the Rotate Tool to slightly turn the shape.

retro flower

Step – 15

For the inside of the flower, take the Ellipse Tool and apply Stroke and Fill color of #F0C93C with the Stroke set to 34.8 pt.

From the Stroke panel, make sure the Dashed Line box is checked and set the dash to 0 pt and gap to 34.8 pt and create a 55 px ellipse.

Using the Selection Tool, move the little yellow flower to the center of this flower group.

retro flower

Step – 16

By now, we have six retro style flower. Before we group them, we will create simple flower outlines to use for our pattern decoration.

Take the Selection Tool to select the border flower shape from each flower. Hold down the Shift-Alt keys to constrain movement, and duplicate the selection by dragging the cursor down. I selected four out of six flowers to use.

Remove the Fill color and we can change the stroke colors. Then Group each flower set together by using shortcut CTRL + G.

retro flowers

How to create a Pattern in illustrator

Follow the following steps to create a retro flower pattern in illustrator.


Step – 1

Now let’s create our Retro Floral Pattern. Take the Selection Tool and manually move and organize the flowers into a group that looks pleasant.

Feel free to scale or rotate the elements using the Rotate Tool.

retro flowers

Step – 2

Select All using shortcut CTRL + A.

Then go to, Object > Pattern > Make

In the Pattern Options dialog box set the following options:

  • Name: (as you like)
  • File Type: Hex by Row
  • Width: 960 px
  • Height: 969 px
  • Copies: 9 x 9

Click Done on the option bar to exit the Pattern Mode.

You can move the elements around to fit the hexagon. Now you have created a seamless repeating pattern.

retro flower pattern

Step – 3

The Retro Floral Pattern Swatch will appear automatically in the Swatches panel.

Once the Retro Floral Pattern Swatch is created, you can select and Hide the shape groups we created on the artboard by going to Object > Hide > Selection

Currently, our pattern does not have a background color. We have to create that separately.

Open the Layers panel. Rename ‘Layer 1’ to ‘BACKGROUNDS’. Then click the Create New Layer icon and name the new layer ‘PATTERNS’.

tools, swatches and layer panel

Step – 4

Now, let’s set our background color.

Make sure you are working on the ‘BACKGROUNDS’ layer.

Grab the Rectangle Tool with the #51ACBD color Fill selected and null Stroke. Click once on the artboard to open the Rectangle dialog box and set the Width to 1200 px and Height to 2400 px

Open the Align panel. Make sure Align to Artboard is selected and click Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center.

background color

Step – 5

Next, let’s move to the ‘PATTERNS’ layer in the Layers panel.

Pick the Rectangle Tool and select our ‘Pattern 1’ as the Fill. Click once on the artboard to open the Rectangle dialog box and set the Width to 1200 px and Height to 2400 px

Then click Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center.

We have created our Retro flower pattern design. We can move on to create color variations of the pattern design by simply changing colors of background.

Retro flower design pattern in illustrator