The Best Free Illustrator Brushes for Retro and Vintage Effects

The Best Free Illustrator Brushes for Retro and Vintage Effects

We’ve already covered the best free Photoshop brushes – but what about high-quality free Illustrator brushes for creating retro and vintage effects? When it comes to vector brushes, options are decidedly thinner on the ground.

That’s why we’ve pulled together this collection of the best free retro and vintage Illustrator brushes – plus one ultimate bonus option you have to pay for (but it’s worth it).

We’ll be adding to this list regularly, so if you’re a designer or illustrator who sometimes uses free resources, it’s worth keeping an eye on this page for new additions. And you might be interested in our other round-ups of free retro and vintage tools too:

We’re always interested in finding high-quality new graphic design resources, so if we’ve missed your favorite brush, let us know in the comments below. Scroll down for our selection of the best free Illustrator brushes for retro and vintage effects – starting with our bonus pick…


RetroSupply Co.

RetroSupply's DupliTone Halftone shading system gives you lo-fi halftones better than anything on the market. DupliTone includes dot and line halftones that seamlessly layer, giving you tonal and shading variations that you've seen in vintage consumer packaging and ephemera. Plus, you can choose between traditional, rough halftones or squeaky clean smooth halftones.

The DupliTone Halftone Free Sample is a collection of 8 of the halftones so you can take them for a spin! Love what you see? Grab the entire collection of DupliTone Halfones for Adobe Illustrator.

Note: While these are technically swatches, you can use them with the Blob Brush tool to paint on the halftones.

FREE Paper Tooth Line Brushes

Grey Jacobson

Equal & Opposite’s free Paper Tooth Line Brushes give vector work a handmade feel by simulating ink creeping into the ‘tooth’ of the paper. The brushes come in four native point sizes, each with their own unique characteristics at 1, 2, 3, and 5 points. You can also increase the point size manually using the Stroke palette to create a more dramatic effect. These are exceptionally high quality brushes (which are hard to find for free).

FREE Wax Crayon Brushes

Grey Jacobson

Get authentic crayon strokes and instantly add charm to your Illustrator work with this collection of 40 realistc free Wax Crayon Brushes for Adobe Illustrator. Made from real source material, so you're sure they will look authentic!

Free Stipple Shading Brushes


Designer Chris Spooner created a free vector brush pack of eight stipple shading brushes to help you paint grungy details onto your artwork with Illustrator’s brush tool. Stippling is a technique that uses lots of dots at different densities to give the appearance of shading – making this set perfect for creating a retro effect in your illustrations.


RetroSupply Co.

TransferTone is RetroSupply's tribute to the mesmerizing world of rub-on products. We researched dozens of patterns and tints sold back in the 1970s and 1980s and made patterns inspired by the era.

TransferTone includes 50 amazing, seamless patterns and you'll get 5 FREE with this sample pack. Take them for a spin and if you love them, make sure to grab the entire collection of 50 patterns and check out the TransferTone Turing Pattern expander pack!

Note: While these are technically swatches, you can use them with the Blob Brush tool to paint on the halftones.



UI/UX designer Rob Brink created this stripped back selection of free halftone Illustrator brushes as part of a larger pack of halftone vector brushes. They’re ideal for roughing up your illustrations in a retro style, without spending a penny.


Sergey Kandakov

This sample pack of eight free grunge brushes for Illustrator is part of a larger, paid-for pack by Russian vector artist Sergey Kandakov, which includes over 60 Illustrator Brushes for creating retro grunge effects.


mel's brushes

Lino cut has an instant retro feel. Recreate the vintage effect in your own illustrations with these free lino cut brushes for Illustrator by Mels Brushes.

A thin, monoline script inspired by 40s and 50s signage. Free retro and vintage fonts: Palm Canyon Drive

Free RetroSupply Illustrator Brush sampler

RetroSupply Co.

We’ve made a selection of our favorite, premium Illustrator brushes totally free in this sample pack. Inside, you’ll find dot and line halftones from DupliTone, texture brushes from Gouache Shader Brushes, and engraving brush from Deep Cuts Engraving Brushes, cross hatchers from Cross Country Cross Hatchers, pen and ink brushes from VectorHero, a charcoal pencil from VectorSketch, and more!

All you have to do to download them is click the link above, follow the instructions – and they’re all yours.



For a shader set of free Illustrator brushes, look no further than this high-res collection from Spoon Graphic's Chris Spooner. Created from pen strokes, they provide an old-school handmade look, taking any design back in time.



Create retro shading effects with this collection of 9 free brushes for Adobe Illustrator from Pixelbuddah. The pack includes liner brushes and stippling brushes so you can cover your edges and add your shading with ease.

FREE Vector Brushes

Mattox Shuler

These free vector brushes for Illustrator offer a quick way to add vintage effects to your designs. Created by Georgia-based artist Mattox Shuler, they’ll add a warm, handmade feel to your work.

FREE Vector Brushes

Mattox Shuler

Another set of free Illustrator brushes that will add a retro or vintage effect to your designs is this collection of dry brushes from Boston illustrator Kirk Wallace. Excess anchor points have been cleaned up so they’re fast, and they can be used as textures.

Reflecting Back on the Brush Hunt: A Few Closing Remarks

Our team has been exactly where you are, deep in the rabbit hole of web searches, hunting for the creme de la creme of free Illustrator brushes. It's a labor of love, a task requiring many hours and endless cups of coffee. You deserve brushes that aren't just good, but are the epitome of quality and style, tailored to bring that irresistible retro and vintage vibe.

Let's not beat around the bush, high-caliber free Illustrator brushes are somewhat of a rarity. But we've dug deep and found the gems among the rocks. These are not just good, they are the best, and they're all yours to play with.

We also humbly suggest that you check out our offering of premium brushes for Adobe Illustrator. While theses offerings aren't free, the level of quality and detail that goes into these brushes is genuinely spectacular. The term 'you get what you pay for' springs to mind when considering their brushes.

Now, let's talk about picking the right brushes for your unique vision. Here are a few tips:

  • Identify your needs: Different designs require different styles. Pinpoint what retro or vintage effect you want to achieve. Although a brush pack might look cool, it might not be what you need for your project.
  • Experiment and explore: The beauty of Illustrator is that you can always change your brush if it doesn't match your expectations. Don't be afraid to try different brushes.
  • Remember, time is money: If a free brush is costing you more time to get it right, it might be worth considering a paid option like our premium retro and vintage brushes for Illustrator.

There's a beautiful vintage world out there, waiting for you to paint it. With these tools and tips, we hope you can effortlessly create that perfect, retro ambiance. Happy designing!