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!
1. How to Create a Simple Tree Trunk
Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a narrow, brown rectangle. The color should be
Delete the node in the upper right corner of the rectangle to create a triangular shape.
Take the Mesh Tool (U) and place a new node on the left side of the triangle, under its upper corner. Color it with
Create another node just under the last one, and color it with
Create another node in the position indicated on the picture and drag the whole column upwards, bending the shape.
Bend the shape further, following the steps in the image below, using the Mesh Tool (U).
Color two columns of Mesh on the left of the shape with a different shade of brown.
Select the column of Mesh on the left of the shape and apply 10% Opacity to it.
Our trunk is done! Let's move on to the branches.
2. How to Create Tree Branches
With the Pen Tool (P), draw a shape similar to the one below. The color should be
Apply a wider stroke to it (in my case 6.6 pt) and Width Profile 4 in the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke).
Expand Appearance of the shape in the Object menu.
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.
Similarly connect more and more shapes to the original one. Our sample twig is done!
3. How to Assemble a Tree
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-click on the shape, selecting Transform > Reflect in the drop-down menu.
Choose Vertical Axis and click on Copy.
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.
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.
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!
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!
When you're done and happy with the tree, move on to the next section!
4. How to Color & Add Hearts
Copy the heart that we used in the last section as a reference, and fill it in with a Linear Gradient from
Copy, rotate and scale the heart accordingly, and then place it onto your tree as shown in the image below.
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!
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.
Let's create another variant of the heart! Color this one with a Linear Gradient from
Similarly to Step 4, place the heart onto the tree.
Finally, Toggle Visibility of each group of hearts back on to see the final result!
You can also add some extra hearts under the tree, as I did in this image:
5. How to Add the Hills
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:
Now create a backdrop with a Linear Gradient from
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!
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