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Create Winter Festival Brushes in Illustrator CS

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This post is part of a series called Christmas Illustration Content.
Quick Tip: Make a Cut Out Gift Tag with Adobe Illustrator & InDesign
How to Make Festive Vector Gift Boxes

In this tutorial I'm going to show you how to create a holly, ivy and a berry brush to create a Winter Festival wreath. The brushes aren't limited to this and can be used in pieces of vector art and decorations.


The Holly Brush

All the colors for this tutorial can be found in the default Basic CMYK palette. The first of the brushes is a Holly Brush. Holly leaves have a rich green color with spikes on the edges of the leaves. You can usually draw them freehand with ease, but I find the method below of drawing them will give a nice symmetrical look.


Step 1

Draw a vertical line using the Line Segment Tool (\) with the stroke color of pale green/yellow (C=50, M=0, Y=100, K=0) and fill color of green (C=85, M=10, Y=100, K=10). Set the stroke weight to 2pt. Using the Pen Tool (P) pick up the line from the top and draw half of the holly leaf.

Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the completed half leaf and then mirror it by going to Object > Transform > Reflect. Change the fill color to a dark green (C=90, M=30, Y=95, K=30) and move the duplicate into place as shown below.


Step 2

Draw three shapes within the holly leaf with the pale green/yellow color set to Blending Mode Color Dodge and Opacity at 30%. These will help give a little depth to the leaf.


Step 3

Using the pale green/yellow color for the stroke color and a weight of 2pt, add veins to the leaf using the Width Profile 4 brush in your Stroke options panel. Alternatively, if you don't have Adobe Illustrator CS5 you can create the same brush by following this tutorial.

Once you've added the veins, add the spiky tips to the leaf using the same stroke options and Width Profile.


Step 4

Select All (Command + A) of your holly leaf and expand the paths by going to Object > Expand and then do it again to expand the strokes. Then Group (Command + G) up the paths.


Step 5

Drag and drop the group into the Brush palette and you'll get a dialog asking which sort of brush you'd like to create. Select Art Brush.

Name it Holly Brush and select the option Scale Proportionally. When you come to use the brush, depending on the length of the stroke will determine the size of the leaf you produce.


Berry Brush

The berry brush is a common brush I use in my vector art. It's not only good for drawing berries but also beads for necklaces on portraits I create or for nice creative patterned lines.


Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) with a medium gray color (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=50) draw an even circle. Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) twice so you have two duplicates of the circle.

Offset one of the circles and using the Pathfinder options, Minus Front to create a slight crescent towards the bottom of the circle. Color this a dark gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=80).


Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create two smaller circles with a light gray fill color (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=5). One will need reshaping to be a little squashed, use the Free Transform Tool (E) to do this.

Then select both of these circles and go to Object > Blend > Make. Then go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and set it to Specific Steps and set it to 4.

Change the Opacity of the larger circle to 0% to create a fading blend. Select the blend group and go to Object > Expand so it creates six circles.


Step 3

Change the Opacity of the highlighting group to 75% and the opacity of the dark crescent to 80%. Then Select All (Command + A) of the berry shapes and Group them (Command + G).

Drag and drop them to the Brush palette and select Scatter brush on the pop up dialog box and then copy the settings which are below.

Alternatively, if you're going to use the brush for beads for a necklace etc... don't modify the sliders. Keep them all at 100%.


Ivy Brush

As I'm going to be creating a Winter Festival wreath, I want to add some additional foliage. For this theme I'm going to want to pick leaves from an evergreen plant. With that in mind I'm going to create an Ivy brush.


Step 1

Using the same method for creating the holly leaf, draw a straight line using the Line Segment Tool (/) and then use the Pen Tool (P) to create half of the top curves of the leaf. The fill color is a light green (C=50, M=0, Y=100, K=0).

Then Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) and move into place. Use the Pathfinder options to Unite them.

Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the united shape and then use the Free Transform Tool (E) to squash the shape and rotate it to be part of the bottom of the leaf. Then Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) and then mirror it by going to Object > Transform > Reflect.

Once in place, Unite all three shapes.


Step 2

Add a 2pt stroke weight around the leaf with a darker green (C=85, M=10, Y=100, K=10).

Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the leaf. Cut the shape in half by covering a portion of it with a rectangle created using the Rectangle Tool (M) and then using Minus Front from the Pathfinder options.

Fill this shape with a brown shade (C=50, M=50, Y=60, K=25) and set the Blending Mode to Screen and Opacity to 50%.


Step 3

Using a pale green/yellow stroke color, add some basic veins to the leaf. Set the stroke weight to 3pt and use Width Profile 4 on the lines.


Step 4

Using the Pen Tool (P), add two shapes with a deep red fill color (C=15, M=100, Y=90, K=10) set to Blending Mode Color Burn.


Step 5

Select All of the shapes (Command + A) and then expand them twice (Object > Expand) and then Group them (Command + G).

Drag and drop the group into the Brush palette and select the Art Brush option in the dialogue box. As with the holly brush, you'll want to select Scale Proportionally.


Creating a Winter Festival Wreath

You've now created your three brushes. They can be used for finer detailing in a variety of projects. I'm now going to show you how to create a Winter Festival themed wreath with our three handy brushes.


Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) draw a circle with just a black stroke color. Use this as your template to draw your wreath from. Lock this shape.

Now using the Paintbrush Tool (B) with the Ivy Brush, cover the circle. Remember to mix the sizes of the leaves by varying the length of the lines.


Step 2

Select All of the ivy leaves (Command + A) and Group them (Command + G). Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the group and then Object > Expand them.

Using the Pathfinder options, Unite them. This will create one large compound path.

Fill the shape with the "Green, Yellow, Orange" linear gradient, which is in the Swatch palette. Modify it's direction by using the Gradient Tool (G). Change the Blending Mode to Color and the Opacity to 25%. Then lock the ivy leaf group and compound path.


Step 3

Now draw on the holly leaves using the Paintbrush Tool (B). Think of the ivy leaves as the base of your wreath but the main focus is the holly leaves.


Step 4

As before with the ivy leaves, Select All of the holly leaves (Command + A) and Group them (Command + G). Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the group and then Object > Expand them.

Using the Pathfinder options, Unite them. This will create several compound paths. Apply the "Purple Radial" gradient to the shapes and set them to Blending Mode Color Burn and Opacity 50%. Once done, lock the shapes.


Step 5

Finally, using the berry brush and with a stroke color of a deep red (C=15, M=100, Y=90, K=10), add berries to the centers of the holly leaf clusters.


Conclusion

This is just one example of how you can use your brushes to create a Winter Festival themed decoration. Alternatively, you could add smaller decorations to logos and cards using minimal effort.

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