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How to Create a Heart-Shaped Tree in Adobe Illustrator

This post is part of a series called Love Week.
How to Create a Rustic Wedding Invitation Template in Adobe InDesign
How to Create a Love-Themed Icon Pack in Adobe Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool and Gradient tool in Adobe Illustrator to create a beautiful heart-shaped tree!

If you want to skip the tutorial and just use this beautiful background, you can purchase the love heart trees from GraphicRiver!

Love Heart Trees
Valentine Background with Heart Shaped Trees

1. How to Create a Simple Tree Trunk

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a narrow, brown rectangle. The color should be #785243.

Long narrow brown rectangle

Step 2

Delete the node in the upper right corner of the rectangle to create a triangular shape.

Delete the node in the upper right hand corner

Step 3

Take the Mesh Tool (U) and place a new node on the left side of the triangle, under its upper corner. Color it with #997666.

A node on the left side of the triangle under its upper corner

Step 4

Create another node just under the last one, and color it with #6D4A3A.

A node just under the last one

Step 5

Create another node in the position indicated on the picture and drag the whole column upwards, bending the shape.

Bend a section near the right side of the shape upwards

Step 6

Bend the shape further, following the steps in the image below, using the Mesh Tool (U).

Bend the trunk widen the base on the right side to make it look more realistic

Step 7

Color two columns of Mesh on the left of the shape with a different shade of brown.

734E3F on the nodes

Step 8

Select the column of Mesh on the left of the shape and apply 10% Opacity to it.

Window  Transparency  10 Opacity

Our trunk is done! Let's move on to the branches.

2. How to Create Tree Branches

Step 1

With the Pen Tool (P), draw a shape similar to the one below. The color should be #785243.

Uneven line resembling a twig

Step 2

Apply a wider stroke to it (in my case 6.6 pt) and Width Profile 4 in the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke).

Window  Stroke  Width Profile 4

Step 3

Expand Appearance of the shape in the Object menu.

Object  Expand Appearance

Step 4

Copy and Paste the shape, scale it, and attach it to the original twig. This is how we will be creating all the different branch shapes later on.

Create a branching shape

Step 5

Similarly connect more and more shapes to the original one. Our sample twig is done!

Add more twigs to the branch

3. How to Assemble a Tree

Step 1

As our tree is going to be heart-shaped, let's start by drawing a heart for reference.

Begin by drawing half a heart with the Pen Tool (P).

Right half of a heart

Step 2

Right-click on the shape, selecting Transform > Reflect in the drop-down menu.

Transform  Reflect

Step 3

Choose Vertical Axis and click on Copy.

Vertical Axis Copy

Step 4

Move the second half next to the first one so that they line up, and then select both shapes and right-click on them. Select Join in the menu.

Join the shapes

Step 5

Rotate the heart slightly to the left, and then move the trunk we made in the first section so it lines up with our heart shape. 

Trunk in the middle of the heart

Step 6

Take the branch we made in the second section of the tutorial and attach it to the trunk at the bottom of the heart shape.

After placing it, right-click and select Arrange > Send to Back.

Repeat this after placing each twig!

Arrange  Send to Back

Step 7

Follow the steps in the image below to assemble the tree. In each step, the branch we're using is showcased under the tree, and the placement of it is highlighted with blue.

Each branch used in this step can be assembled out of the element we made in the second section of the tutorial, simply by scaling and rotating!

Of course, for this step you can create your own tree just the way you like it!

Complete the tree with different branches following the heart shape

When you're done and happy with the tree, move on to the next section!

4. How to Color & Add Hearts

Step 1

Copy the heart that we used in the last section as a reference, and fill it in with a Linear Gradient from #FF1F2C to #8A000A.

Linear Gradient from FF1F2C to 8A000A

Step 2

Copy, rotate and scale the heart accordingly, and then place it onto your tree as shown in the image below.

Two hearts in the center of the tree

Step 3

Open the Layers panel (Window > Layers).

Select both hearts and Group them (Control-G), and then find this group in the Layers panel and Toggle Visibility of it by clicking on the eye icon on left.

This will help you not to confuse the placement of the hearts in the following steps.

Don't forget to repeat this step after placing each group of hearts!

Click eye icon in the Layers panel

Step 4

Place three more groups of hearts onto the tree, following the steps in the picture below. The heart being used is showcased above the tree in each step.

Don't forget to repeat Step 3 after placing each group.

Three groups of hearts the smaller they are the more of them are placed onto the tree

Step 5

Let's create another variant of the heart! Color this one with a Linear Gradient from #C60014 to #FF3C31.

Linear Gradient from C60014 to FF3C31

Step 6

Similarly to Step 4, place the heart onto the tree.

Four groups of hearts the smaller they are the more of them are placed onto the tree

Step 7

Finally, Toggle Visibility of each group of hearts back on to see the final result!

Final product

Step 8

You can also add some extra hearts under the tree, as I did in this image:

Final product with heart falling from the tree

5. How to Add the Hills

Step 1

What now? You can add a natural background to it! To create the elements you'll need, head over to my other tutorial on creating a winter scene and follow the second section of it to create hills!

Now, modify them a bit by following the steps below:

Modify the scene

Step 2

Now create a backdrop with a Linear Gradient from #FCF9EC to #DFD0CB!

 Linear Gradient

Awesome Work, You're Done!

This is how your complete image should turn out! Thank you for following along and please feel welcome to post your result in the comments. I'll be looking forward to seeing it!

In this tutorial, you learned how to create a Valentine's Day themed heart-shaped tree and background, using the Mesh Tool and the Gradient Tool.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and learned how to use some useful tools for the future!

Final scene

You can purchase this design as well as other love heart tree designs over on GraphicRiver.

Love Heart Trees
Valentine Background with Heart Shaped Trees
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