In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a pile of books, a
sleeping cat, and a few indoor plants using basic shapes. To precisely
draw the plants, we will create a custom brush from scratch. You will
learn how to use just one brush to draw different leaves and petals.
As always, you are free to be creative and add anything from your own imagination to make your artwork special!
1. Create a Pile of Books
After opening your Adobe Illustrator and creating a new document 600 x 600 px Width and Height, we are going to start by creating the cover of a book.
Draw an ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L) with no fill. Grab the Scissors Tool (C) and click on the top and bottom anchor points. Press the Delete button and you will get a half ellipse.
Add two lines using the Line Segment Tool (\). Make sure that Round Cap on the Stroke panel is checked.
Delete the stroke color and set the fill color to the color you see in the image below. Draw a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (L). Then go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. In the new window, adjust the following options:
After that, apply one more warp. Again, go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower and enter the options you see below. Expand this shape (Object > Expand Appearance).
Using a slightly darker fill color, draw a long, thin rectangle over the
shape you created in the previous step. We will now create the pages of
the book. Holding down the Alt and Shift keys together, move this thin
rectangle down and you will get a copy. Keep pressing Control-D to
repeat your last movement a few more times.
Select the shape from the previous step (the bigger, lighter one), which was expanded already, and copy and paste in front (Control-C, Control-F). Now we need to cut out this copy (Control-X) and place it over the long, darker rectangles (Control-F). Make sure that all the long, darker rectangles are selected along with the lighter copy on top. Go to the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and press the Crop button. These are the pages from our book!
Combine the cover and the pages together. The cover should be over the pages.
Create more books in different sizes and colors by changing the stroke color of the book cover.
2. Create the Sleeping Cat
Let’s create our kitty cat. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw an oval. In the image below, you can see which fill color you need. To give the head an irregular shape, go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. Enter the options you see below.
Keeping the same fill color as the head of the cat, we will now create an ear from an ellipse. Select the left and right anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and press the Down Arrow on your keyboard a few times. Create another copy in the front, making it darker and smaller.
We just created one ear! But we still need another one. Let’s create a
copy of the ear. Make sure that the ear is selected, and take the Reflect
Tool (O). Hold down the Alt key and click in the middle of the head. A
new dialogue window will appear where you need to enter Vertical, Angle
90 degrees and press Copy. Place this ear on the right side of the head.
Just one more thing here. We need to create a slight shadow of the head to divide the head from the foreleg, which we will create later. So let’s create a copy of the head in the back (Control-C, Control-B), and make it a little darker (using the Eyedropper Tool (I), take the color from the darker part of the ear). Press the Down Arrow and the Right Arrow keys a few times on your keyboard.
Let’s move on to the eyes. Draw two circles that overlap each other. The first one needs to be smaller than the second one. Press Minus Front in Pathfinder. You will get a crescent shape which we will use to show the closed eyes of our sleeping cat.
Place the crescent shape on the head of our cat and rotate it to the right. Using the Reflect Tool (O), make a vertical reflection to create the right eye.
On to the nose. Let’s start with a pink ellipse for the nose of our cat. Using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), click on the bottom anchor point of the ellipse and you will get a sharp point. That's the nose.
Just place it between the eyes, where the nose should be!
Using the Eyedropper Tool (I), take the fill color from the head—we will use it to create the body. Start by creating an ellipse, and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to move the handles of the anchor points to achieve the shape you see in the image below. This shape resembles a pear, but slightly flattened.
Put the body behind the whole head (Control-X, Control-B).
Let the kitty sit on top of the pile of books.
Let’s move on to the legs. It’s easier to add other parts if you take the cat to the side of the art board.
Place an ellipse on the cat
as in the image below, with the same fill color as the body. Again,
use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to move the handles, and distort this
ellipse so you will get a leg shape.
As you can see in the last image, we need to divide the foreleg from the head. As we did with the head before, just create a copy of this foreleg in the back (Control-C, Control-B), make it darker and move it slightly upwards and to the right.
Place the cat on the pile of books again. Copy the foreleg that you just created and place it behind the head. This will be the second foreleg.
Draw a circle on the lower part of the body, in the same fill color as the body. Then create a copy behind with darker fill color and move it to the right using the Right Arrow button. This will represent the hind leg.
On to the tail. Here, we will use the Spiral Tool. Click on your art board and enter the options you see below.
Place the tail on our kitty.
3. Create the Plant Stand
Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a plant stand.
Let's make it more stable. First, draw a rectangle and then make a darker copy in the back (Control-C, Control-B). Shift the copy up a bit. Then make a wider rectangle on top of the previous rectangle as well as a darker copy of it in the back. Shift the copy up. And finally, make a wider rectangle under the previous ones and a darker copy in the back, and shift it up.
4. Create the Flower Pot and Indoor Plants
Let’s add some greens to our artwork. Draw a rectangle. While keeping it selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arc. In the new dialogue window, adjust the options as you see in the image below:
Create a new rectangle on top of the previous one. The warp options you need to apply to this new rectangle are in the image below. Keep it selected, make a copy of it in the back, and shift it down using the Down Arrow on your keyboard. Be sure to darken the copied shape. Add a brown ellipse on top of the flower pot to represent the soil. Our flower pot is done.
We will now be making our custom brush. This watermelon-seed-looking shape will be our new brush, which we will use to draw all of our indoor plants. So, first create a tiny black ellipse and make the left anchor point sharp using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Then shift the top and bottom anchor points to the right. Our brush is ready to be made!
In order to make this into a brush, we need to drag this shape to the Brushes panel. In the image below, you can see all the options you want to apply.
Delete the fill color and set the stroke color to the color you see below. Hit the Arc Tool (you can find it under the Line Segment Tool (\)). One more thing to prepare—check the Round Cap on the Stroke panel.
Draw a few stalks on our flower pot. Don't forget to put all stalks behind the soil.
Time to bring out our newly created brush! Take it and draw a few leaves
on top of each stalk, starting from inside out. Adjust the stroke
weight on your own, because it depends on the size of your brush shape.
Don't you think it will be fun to create your own plants?
Create a copy of the flower pot to create another indoor plant. Change the stroke color. This time, we will change the drawing directions—from the outside in. You can also decrease the stroke weight.
Let’s create more plants. Create a copy of the flower pot. Change the stroke color again and make the stroke weight thick. Draw a few leaves. Change the stroke color and the drawing directions to draw a flower. Draw or copy-paste two of the five-petal flowers that you just created. Add a circle with no stroke and yellow fill color for the stamen of the flower.
Let’s create one more plant. Take a copy of the flower pot again. Using the Arc Tool, create a few stalks. Remember to delete the fill color and set the stroke color. Take our brush again and add leaves on each stalk.
5. Combine All the Parts Together
Group each plant together so that it is easier to maneuver (select the plant and the flower pot, right-click > Group). Arrange the plants on the plant stand to your liking, or just follow my arrangement.
Place the pile of books with the sleeping cat on top next to the plants.
And our final step of the day—add a dark background behind everything. That's it!
Awesome Work, You're Done!
Congratulations, you did it! Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will create lots of different indoor plants, cats, and books.