How to Create a Hip Hop Grunge Look with Vector Brushes

Looking to add some edge to your designs? Check out this tutorial on how to create a hip hop grunge look using vector brushes.


In this tutorial we’re going to create a grunge vector portrait of a young woman inspired by hip hop fashion and street art. We’ll start with a vector sketch, and then add color, shading and texture with vector brushes. To follow along with this tutorial, you will need some basic knowledge of Adobe Illustrator.

What You Need

To create this look, you will need:

-Vector brushes
-A design program like Adobe Illustrator
-A reference image of a hip hop artist or a grunge look
-Patience and a willingness to experiment!

Step 1: Find a reference image

For this look, you will need to find an image of a hip hop artist or a grunge look that you like. This will be your reference point as you create your own design.

Step 2: Choose your colors

Once you have found your reference image, it is time to choose the colors that you want to use for your design. For this look, we recommend using muted colors like black, white, grey, and brown. You can also experiment with some brighter colors if you want to add more contrast to your design.

Step One: Create a New Document

Open up Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. Make sure you have the Latest CC version installed, so you’ll have access to all the new features and brushes. I’ll be using a light blue background for this tutorial, but feel free to use whatever color you like.

Step Two: Create a Rectangle
Using the Rectangle Tool (M), click and drag to create a rectangle that covers the entire artboard.

Step Three: Apply a Linear Gradient
With the rectangle selected, go to the Swatches panel and click on theLinear Gradient swatch to apply it to the fill of the rectangle.

Step Two: Sketch Out Your Design

Now that you have your inspiration, it’s time to start sketching out your design. This is where you’ll decide on the composition of your piece and start to plan out the individual elements.

If you’re not used to working with vectors, I recommend starting with a simple pencil and paper sketch. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a basic outline of what you want your final piece to look like. Once you have a general idea of the composition, you can start tracing over your sketch with vector shapes.

If you’re feeling more confident, you can go straight to tracing over your reference image with vector shapes. This is a bit more challenging, but it will force you to think more critically about the individual elements in your design and how they fit together.

Once you have a basic sketch (or trace) of your design, it’s time to start adding some detail.

Step Three: Choose Your Colors

Now that you have your brush, it’s time to start thinking about color. For this look, we are going for a more muted color palette. This can be achieved by choosing colors that are either on the darker side or by lowering the opacity of the colors.

Some good colors to choose from are:

Once you have chosen your colors, it’s time to start adding them to your design!

Step Four: Add Some Texture

Now that the basic shape of our character is complete, it’s time to add some grungy, distressed textures. This is what will give our vector image that rough, street look.

There are a few different ways to do this. One option would be to use a variety of different halftone patterns, like we did in our previous tutorial on creating a rock poster illustrator. Another option is to use some grunge textures that you can find online or create yourself.

For this particular project, we’re going to keep things simple and just use some black and white scratches from this week’s freebie pack. To add them, simply place them over top of your image and change the blending mode to “multiply” so they blend in with the dark background.

Step Five: Finish It Up

Now that your composition is complete, you can add some finishing touches. For this design, I used a grunge texture as a clipping mask to give the background some extra depth and interest. I also added a few splatters of color to emphasize the energy of the piece.

To add the texture, first make sure your texture layer is on top of all the other layers in your file. Then select all the layers you want to apply the texture to and click on the “Create Clipping Mask” icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. This will clip the texture layer to ONLY those layers selected, making it easy to apply different textures to different parts of your design.

Once your texture is in place, you can add some color splatters by creating a new layer and using a brush with a low opacity (I used 20%). Then just click and drag your brush across the canvas to create random splatters of color. You can also use a eraser tool to remove any areas you don’t like. When you’re happy with your design, just flatten all the layers and save your file!


Assuming you followed the steps in this tutorial, you should now have a fully complete hip hop grunge look vector portrait. You can add your own final touches and make it your own. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and please feel free to post any questions or comments in the section below. Thanks for reading!

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