How to Create a Vintage Rusty Metal Sign Using Illustrator & Photoshop

Hello everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial Last weekend I was enjoying myself wandering around the stalls at a classic car show admiring a collection of vintage automotive signs, which featured various lubricant and fluid brands on old rusty metal plates

It has taken over 70s years to slowly decay those tin advertisements into vintage memorabilia, but they gave me the idea to use the aesthetic to create our own rusty sign effect using Illustrator and Photoshop Follow along with today's tutorial to produce a simple motor oil brand sign with a 50s inspired design, using type and colours that are based on authentic examples We'll use Illustrator to construct the design for its powerful shape and text editing tools, then we'll transfer the artwork over to Photoshop to distress it using a rusty metal texture I'll show you how a simple layer mask trick can instantly take your crisp digital design and give it a realistic weathered patina look But first So to create your rusty metal sign, begin by opening Adobe Illustrator and create a new document

I'm just using a basic A4 artboard, but you might want to enter specific dimensions if you're creating your own print Grab the rectangle tool to draw a shape that covers the artboard to act as a background It's so much easier to find the corner of the artboard if you have Smart Guides enabled from under the View menu Click and drag the shape to the opposite corner By default shapes have a white fill and black stroke, so in the toolbar, clear out the stroke, then double click the fill block to choose a new colour

You can find some great inspiration for 30s-40s-50-60s era automotive memorabilia on Google and Pinterest, which can help you come up with colour scheme, type and layout ideas My background colour is going to be a subdued indigo Draw another rectangle that forms a stripe across the artboard Edit the fill block to alter its colour Rather than choosing pure white, an off-white with a hint of yellow gives the design more of an antique look

Using the Selection tool, select both the stripe and the background shape while holding the Shift key, then give the background an extra click to make it the key object In the Align panel, choose Vertical Align Center to move the shape into the middle Click anywhere on the area beyond the artboard to deselect, then select just the stripe shape Go to Object > Transform > Shear Choose Vertical, then enter -5 degrees to add a slightly diagonal angle to the stripe

Grab the rectangle tool again and draw another shape that covers the lower portion of the background Change the fill to a dark green, or whatever colour palette you've chosen Right click and choose Arrange > Send Backward to place this shape underneath the stripe, or use the CMD+[ shortcut, or CTRL and [ on Windows Use the Text tool to lay out the name of your fictional automotive brand I'm using McQueen, set in a script font available on Adobe Fonts named CornerStore

Scale the text to fit within the stripe, then apply the same Shear adjustment so the angle matches Select both the text and the background shape, giving the background an extra click to make it the key object so it doesn't move out of place, then align the text centrally Add more text elements using a complementary sans-serif Brandon Grotesque has a geometric style that is common in advertisements of the era Set the fill colour to the same colour used in the stripe by sampling it with the Eyedropper tool

Scale the text to suit the layout, then align it centrally Rather than make the background shape the key object, you could also change the settings of the Align panel to align relative to the Artboard With the Selection tool active, hold the ALT key and drag a copy of the text element Place it in the lower portion of the layout and alter the wording This simple layout has the visual style of an old advertisement sign, but it needs to decay over decades to achieve the natural patina of authentic vintage memorabilia

Thankfully, we can simulate the look in just a few clicks digitally It is possible to create rust effect using various filters, but the best result comes from using the real thing by finding a rust texture photograph There's loads of stock photos of dumpsters and other grungy metal surfaces with flaking paint and various levels of decay If you're watching this tutorial within the first week, there's currently a great 99% discount on a Textures and Patterns bundle at Design Cuts The texture file I'm using in this tutorial is an asset from that collection, so I'll put a link in the description for you to pick it up yourself

There's loads of other useful texture resources in there too! While Illustrator was perfect for constructing the design, Photoshop is much better suited to working with raster images and effects Draw a selection across everything in Illustrator, then hit CMD+C to Copy Open up your rusty metal texture in Adobe Photoshop, then press CMD+V to Paste Choose Pixels, then scale the artwork to fit over the texture before hitting Enter Toggle off the visibility of the artwork layer for a moment by clicking the eyeball icon next to the layer

Switch over to the Channels panel, then click each Red, Green and Blue channel in turn to find the one where the rusty parts are the darkest and have the most contrast against the painted area Since this particular texture has a blue surface, the blue channel is the best Hold the CMD key and click on the channel thumbnail to make a selection Click the RGB channel to bring all three channels back to show the full colour image, then switch back to the layers panel Turn back on the visibility of the artwork layer, then apply a Layer Mask, this will automatically use the selection we've just made of the rusty areas

To adjust the mask, use the CMD+L shortcut to open the Levels window Move the Shadows and Highlights sliders to alter the contrast, This helps you to bring back some of the colour in the non-rusty areas, or make the rust expand further into the design The mask erases the areas where there is rust, but because this texture has a bright blue area, that colour is showing through onto our custom artwork Turn off the visibility of the artwork layer, then select the Background Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above it

Click the pointer icon in the Properties panel, then click on a blue portion and drag to the left to desaturate this colour sample Turn back on the visibility of the artwork to see the blue colour cast has been eliminated The final result is a rusty sign effect that looks like it has been naturally decaying over decades The use of a real rust texture ensures the effect looks as realistic as possible If you enjoyed this tutorial or learnt any new tricks, a thumbs up to help recommend the video would be really appreciated

Subscribe to stick around for more tutorials for Illustrator and Photoshop, and be sure to join my mailing list at Spoon Graphics to bag yourself my free bundle of design resources As always thank you very much for watching, and I'll see you in the next one

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