How to Create a 70s Background in Illustrator

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to create two different types of retro 70s backgrounds.

In the first part, you’ll learn how to create a 70s background using basic vector shape-building techniques along with some Transform effects, and in the second part you will learn how to create a different type of 70s background pattern. You’ll learn how to put together this pattern, how to save it, and how to apply it in order to create an aesthetic 70s background.

If you don’t have the time to learn how to create retro 70s backgrounds, you can always try Envato Elements, where you can find a massive collection of designs that you can choose from. Check out this set of 70s-themed backgrounds and find the one that’s perfect for your project.

abstract backgroundabstract backgroundabstract background

Prefer video tutorials over detailed written steps? Check out the new video from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel. You can learn how to make aesthetic 70s backgrounds in Illustrator by watching this video:

What You’ll Learn in This 70s Theme Background Tutorial

  • How to create a 70s background using shapes
  • How to create a 70s background pattern

1. How to Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, set the Width and Height to 850 px, and then click that Advanced Options button. Select RGB for the Color Mode and set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click the Create button.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid or Control-“) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid or Shift-Control-“). You will need a grid every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-” keyboard shortcut.

You can learn more about Illustrator’s grid system in this short tutorial from Andrei Stefan:

  • Graphic Design

    Understanding Adobe Illustrator’s Grid System

    Andrei Stefan

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don’t forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units. All these options will significantly increase your work speed. Now that you’re set, let’s see how you can create a 70s flower background.

illustrator new documentillustrator new documentillustrator new document

2. How to Create a 70s Flower Background

Step 1

Focus on your toolbar and pick the Rectangle Tool (M), and then focus on the color settings. Select the stroke and remove the color, and then double-click the fill and set it to R=220 G=194 B=159.

Move to your artboard and create an 85 px square—the grid and the Snap to Grid should make it easier. Hold down the Shift key as you click and drag to easily create a perfect square.

squaresquaresquare

Step 2

Switch to the Ellipse Tool (L) and use it to create a 170 px circle. Fill this new shape with R=236 G=173 B=16 and place it as shown in the following image.

circlecirclecircle

Step 3

Using the Selection Tool (V), select your square and add a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F).

Hold down the Shift key to select this copy along with your yellow circle, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), and click the Intersect button.

intersectintersectintersect

Step 4

Select both shapes using the Selection Tool (V), hold down the Alt and drag a copy of your selection 85 px to the right, as shown in the first image.

Select the newly added shapes and use the bounding box to rotate them 90 degrees, as shown in the second image.

Select the new shapes one by one and replace the fill colors as indicated in the third image.

multiply shapes recolormultiply shapes recolormultiply shapes recolor

Step 5

Again, use the Selection Tool (V) to select all your shapes and add copies 85 px below the original shapes.

Select the two pairs of new shapes and rotate them as shown in the first two images.

Select the new shapes one by one and replace the fill colors as indicated in the third image.

flower shapesflower shapesflower shapes

Step 6

Select all your shapes and press Control-G to Group them.

Keep the group selected and focus on the control panel. Set the Alignment to Artboard and then click the Horizontal Align Left and Vertical Align Top buttons to easily move your group to the top-left corner of the artboard.

illustrator align artboardillustrator align artboardillustrator align artboard

Step 7

Make sure that your group is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Set the number of Copies to 4, drag the Move-Horizontal slider to 170 px, and click OK.

transform effecttransform effecttransform effect

Step 8

Make sure that your group is still selected and go back to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Again, set the number of Copies to 4, but this time drag the Move-Vertical slider to 170 px. When you’re done, click OK to apply this second effect, and this will be your 70s flower background.

transform effecttransform effecttransform effect

3. How to Make a 70s Background Pattern

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (), draw a 240 px horizontal path. Apply a 20 pt stroke for this path, and set its color to R=218 G=88 B=66.

line toolline toolline tool

Step 2

Keep your horizontal path selected and switch to the Selection Tool (V). Again, hold down the Alt key as you click and drag your path to add a copy 20 px below the original path. Select the new path and replace the stroke color with R=236 G=173 B=16.

Use this same technique to add three more lines, one below the other, and apply the stroke colors shown in the second image.

multiply linemultiply linemultiply line

Step 3

Duplicate all your lines and place them below the original ones, as shown in the second image.

duplicate linesduplicate linesduplicate lines

Step 4

Select all your lines and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Check the Absolute and Smooth boxes, set the Size to 20 px and the Ridges to 3, and then click OK to apply the effect.

line zig zagline zig zagline zig zag

Step 5

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 120 x 100 px shape, and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

Make sure that this shape doesn’t have a set color for fill or stroke (which will make it invisible), and then press Shift-Control-[ to send it to the back.

rectangle invisiblerectangle invisiblerectangle invisible

Step 6

Select all your lines along with that invisible rectangle and simply drag them into the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save them as a pattern.

70s background pattern70s background pattern70s background pattern

Step 7

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape that covers your entire artboard and just fill it with your saved pattern.

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Congratulations! You’re Done!

Here is how your 70s theme backgrounds should look. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

Feel free to adjust the final designs as you wish. You can find some great sources of inspiration at Envato Elements, with interesting solutions to create 70s disco background or 70s party background.

70s background70s background70s background

Popular Assets From Envato Elements

Envato Elements is an excellent resource for aesthetic 70s backgrounds. Here’s a short list of some of the most popular 70s backgrounds that you can find.

Retro Groovy Paper Backgrounds (JPG)

Give your design a warm feel using one of these groovy 70s backgrounds. Feel free to also use these 70s backgrounds in Photoshop.

retro 70s backgroundretro 70s backgroundretro 70s background

Retro 60s-70s Backgrounds (JPG)

Don’t worry if you don’t have the time to learn how to create a retro 70s background. This pack of 70s party backgrounds is the solution.

retro 70s backgroundretro 70s backgroundretro 70s background

Retro Abstract Patterns (AI, EPS)

Looking for more 70s background patterns? Check out this set of 16 abstract patterns and pick that one that’s a good fit for you.

70s background pattern70s background pattern70s background pattern

Retro 70s Backgrounds Bundle (Ps)

Check out these 70s disco backgrounds and make your design stand out. Adjust it as you wish, and with a few clicks you’ll have an amazing 70s background in Photoshop.

70s party background70s party background70s party background

Retro 70s Background (JPG, EPS)

Looking for the classic retro line design? This retro 70s background might be it. Feel free to adjust the design however you need.

retro line backgroundretro line backgroundretro line background

Want to Learn More?

We have loads of tutorials on Envato Tuts+, from beginner to intermediate level. Take a look!

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