Retro Futurism At Its Best: Designs and Tutorials

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Concepts of the future for the way we live our lives have been expressed in forms of art, design, movies, comics, and even cartoons. For many decades before man even landed on the Moon, people have been fascinated with space and the endless possibilities it could bring. The future is not only about being in space, though it has a major influence, it lies within your innovative minds and skills as the designer and artist. So, whether you go back into the past or here in the present, the future is all that we envision.

It wasn’t too many years ago when amazing tools such as 3ds Max, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or even Corel Draw weren’t around. Illustrations were drawn by hand using chalks, colored pencils, paints, and pens. With typography, you could find artists/ designers also using fountain pens or calligraphy pens with a large variety of nibs, along with bottles of colored ink. Even today, you will still find designers and architects who use tools such as the t-square, triangular scales, triangle, french curve, and of course, your basic compass.

Times do change and so do the concepts of what to expect in the future. We would like to share with you a collection of retro futuristic designs and tutorials that will inspire you for your future creations. If you like the designs, please take the time to visit the sites of the artist/ designer by clicking on the illustration or title.

Beautiful Retro Futuristic Artworks

Omega Code1

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Retrofuturistic cityscape3

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USS – a portfolio of probabilities7

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Retro Futurism II12

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Geometry Serie15

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Vintage DHARMA ads17
Incredible vintage Dharma Initiative posters created by Adam Campbell.

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The Apple Store That Almost Was19
Before there was the Apple Store that we know and love today, there was the Apple Cafe — well, almost. On November 12, 1996, Apple announced plans to open a chain of cybercafes around the globe. State-of-the-art, even by today’s standards, Apple Cafes promised health-conscious food (served up via a high-tech ordering system), video conferencing with neighboring diners, and on-demand access of movies and music videos. A screenshot from an old promo gives us a few clues as to how some of this might have worked.

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Play22

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Zac Blake25

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Andy Gilmore27

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Future Cities29

future cities30

Master Pyramid31

master pyramid32

Flux33

future cities34

Kitchen35

future cities36

Retro Futuristic City37

retro futuristic city 1038

Sexy Robot39

40

Concepts41

concepts 1042

Retro Future Cars43

retro magazines 1044

Bridging The Gap45

bohn 4746

Frank R. Paul City47

frank r paul city48

Das Neue Universum49

das neue universum50

Scripto Satellite51

scripto satellite52

Tocame53

tocame54

Triobelisk55

triobelisk 256

triobelisk57

Bloom58

bloom59

“P” is for Possibilities of the Future60

P for possibilities61

Striking Spaceship Squadron62

striking spaceship squadron63

Popular Electronics 195864

striking spaceship squadron65

striking spaceship squadron66

Exterior Double Cylinder Colony67

exterior double cylinder colony68

cylinder colony69

space settlement 1070

Rocketeer Adventure Magazine71

rocketeer adventure magazine72

Bohn 194773

bohn 4774

Futuristic Train75

futuristic train76

Retro Futurism77

retro futurismus flickr 1078

Le Femme79

le femme80

Robert Rock81

robert rock82

Space Race83

space race 1084

If I Only Had Wings, I’d Fly85

if i only had wings 1086

Retro Futurism Artworks by Klaus Bürgle87

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Retro Futurism91

retro futurism 4092

Gates to Elysium93

tiager 1094

The Jetson’s95

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Tutorials

Futuristic Athlete design and tutorial97
Using multiple layers and brushes, this tutorial will show you how to create a futuristic athlete.

futuristic athlete tutorial98

Creating The New Retro99
Graphic designer James White100 shows you how to give retro-style graphics your own modern-day spin.

creating a new retro tutorial101

Speed Lightning Effect102
This tutorial will show you how to manipulate natural lighting to fill a motion filled scene. Use masks to blend the effect over a car image to make the car appear to be in motion.

speed lightning effect tutorial103

Design a retro futurism space scene104
In this tutorial, you will learn how to design a retro-futuristic space scene, using a variety of lighting effects and photo manipulation.

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How to Make Retro Futuristic Curves in 10 Steps106
In this tutorial, you will learn how to achieve the space like scenery with the glowing lines. Using Illustrator and Photoshop you?ll learn how to add subtle effects using textures and different blending modes.

retro futuristic tutorial 10107

Futuristic Abstract Tutorial108
In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a futuristic abstract poster design using layer styles, shapes and ‘space’ effects.

futuristic abstract tutorial109

Steampunk Style Illustration110
In this tutorial, you will be using light sources, shadows, and image grading to go back in time with this design.

steampunk style illustration111

Further Resources


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  1. 1

    The best retro-futurist design I’ve seen lately was the entire Fallout 3 video game.

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  2. 2

    I like many of the design. I really miss the older SciFi novel book covers.

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  3. 3

    Nice Inspirational article sharon!! Now if only a lot of the older eastern block science fiction movies would become more readily available I would be happy.

    Also found this link which holds more great example of Retro Futuristic Artwork. http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2007/11/retro-future-to-stars.html

    DKumar M.
    @instantshift

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  4. 4

    Excellent! My fav is the Dharma Initiative poster. Good one :)

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  5. 5

    Very nice… rare to see a theme like this. The Fudgegraphics tutorial looks great.

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  6. 6

    Awesome. all of this reminds me back when i was a kid, the transformers were supposed to arrive in the year 2005 and it seemed so far back then, i even remember having arguments with my friends about which brand of car will start selling flying cars first. Great article.

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  7. 7

    As much as I love all of Scott Hansen’s work (and I definitely love it), that’s Andy Gilmore you’ve posted. Scott featured him in a blog post a few days ago.

    The Dharma ads are absolutely awesome though.

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  8. 8

    Anwar Bendaoud Andersson

    June 8, 2009 6:20 pm

    I agree with the above comment regarding Fallout 3. That game is simply amazing in terms of both interface design and the graphics. Well deserving of a mention.

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  9. 9

    Fantastic! Really retro futurism,.. great post! Thanks!

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  10. 10

    guys, this is best SM article ever! I love s-fi and retro futurism.. and this is my subject for my next school project. You read in my mind, again :)

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  11. 11

    Amazing!

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  12. 12

    wow…amazing !!!

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  13. 13

    Very inspiring collection… :)
    Thanks

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  14. 14

    Really enjoyed this, one of my favourite features yet! Cheers!

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  15. 15

    Great collection. Also you could look more artworks here: http://www.splashnology.com/blog/inspiration/44.html

    Thanks!

    0
  16. 16

    Tanaka13 - Créations du Net

    June 9, 2009 12:32 am

    very nice collection!

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  17. 17

    + 1 for Fallout (for all the series).

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  18. 18

    I remember the sexy cyber girl from the 80′s – I’m sure it was used in a computer magazine @ the time, “Amstrad Action”..

    This post makes me think of the film “Gattaca” Futurism meets Art Deco.

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  19. 19

    Isnt it Robot Rock and not Robert Rock ;)

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  20. 20

    Holy smokes it’s like I’m growing up again! Nostalgia-goggles are on and they are thick and they heavily obscure my vision. :’3

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  21. 21

    Nice selection!
    What about Bioshock ?

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  22. 22

    thank u guys , u made my day!!! i f£$%ing love retro futurism!!!!

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  23. 23

    Cool stuff. I want a robot for christmas.

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  24. 24

    how cool is this, very~! Amazing art and emotion…Thanks very much for this article, is really inspired for me.

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  25. 25

    Tho I’m a big follower of Scott Hansen I have to say that his entry on this list is not his… It’s on a post about Andy Gilmore. I think you should change itl.

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  26. 26

    Genial!!!

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  27. 27

    so damn inspiring!
    More plz!

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  28. 28

    Cathedral Graphic Design

    June 9, 2009 4:58 am

    Dharma Initiative poster wins… I wonder if it’s possible to acquire a print of that! Nice post, some interesting stuff in there, thanks Smashing!

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  29. 29

    OH, the Jetsons :D I looooved that movie when I was a kid.

    The sexy robot poster looks so familiar, but can’t remember why.

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  30. 30

    Soooo inspring!

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  31. 31

    Adore this collection. It’s a genre that I love, and it has great design potential. What’s more, it’s a genuinely fun genre to design in. I think this, along with steampunk, are my favorite kind of designs to play with (retro futuristic tends to work better in a web medium).

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  32. 32

    this is kinda retro futuristic

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  33. 33

    Dusan Vlahovic

    June 9, 2009 8:15 am

    Love me some Retro Futurism! Thanks!

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  34. 34

    COOL STUFF MAN!

    You should def check this out… Called an
    electronic cigarette Tobacco companies are trying to keep it shush shush….

    0
  35. 35

    Tigaer (author of Gates to Elysium) has some really great work on deviantArt which is similar.

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  36. 36

    A very nice collection. I see quite a few Syd Mead works throughout. Every artist can learn much from this man.

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  37. 37

    Jehzeel Laurente

    June 9, 2009 2:49 pm

    Wow! I love the Dharma ad. I’m a big fan of Dharma Initiative since I fell in love with LOST. Weeeeeeeee!

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  38. 38

    I love retro! Good job..

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  39. 39

    Ashely Adams : Sticker Printing

    June 10, 2009 3:37 am

    Science meets art. What a nice walk down memory lane. I felt a sudden rush of nostalgia to see all those lovely retro posts. I remember reading that book “Future Cities” too sometime in my childhood. It came in a set of 3, the other titles being, (as far as I remember), “Robots” and “Future Travel”. I used to adore them.

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  40. 40

    Check this designer out! His work is stunning and pure retro futurism
    http://www.myspace.com/elmorales

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  41. 41

    I really love this post. I’m really into Retro Futurism as well right now and have been inspired greatly by James White, Chuck Anderson and the great up-and-coming Sakke Soini.

    My approach is a little bit different than theres, but a combination of each. I try and kick out a new project each month, some are good, some aren’t: http://www.behance.net/peternudo

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  42. 42

    It’s always nice to see one of my early books onscreen!

    I conceived ‘Future Cities’ as part of a ‘World of the Future’ trilogy, with my sadly late collaborator, Ken Gatland, who had been President of the renowned BIS British Interplanetary Society.

    The illustrator of this cover, the talented Brian Lewis, is also gone – he painted covers for the scifi mag ‘New Worlds’ (1960s-era) for several years.

    Best wishes to all you futures enthusiasts out there.

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  43. 43

    The funny thing is that when those drawings were made people just knew that we’d be in flying cars and living on the moon by now. 2009 just “sounded” futuristic in the 60′s. Meanwhile one of the biggest advancements in the world is something no one saw coming: Twitter.

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  44. 44

    There’s plenty of designs like these here: One On One Tutorials Truly inspiring website.

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  45. 45

    I always love a little bit of inspiration in my day!

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  46. 46

    i think that this is another really nice example! http://jo-nic.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2rszpi anyway great pictures! cheers, jonathan

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  47. 47

    “The Apple Store That Almost Was” the first picture…. have you seen the T4 terminal airport of Barajas in Madrid?

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  48. 48

    Wow, these are amazing! I absolutely love the retrofuturistic cityscape artwork, just outstanding.

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