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How to Create Vector Floral Typography in Adobe Illustrator

This post is part of a series called Learn Adobe Illustrator.
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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Follow this inspirational tutorial and learn to create an elegant floral typography composition in Adobe Illustrator! We’ll be working with text, creating custom vectors brushes and using various drawing tools of Adobe Illustrator to create flowers, leaves, and floral elements. We’ll be comparing different tools, so you can see how they work and follow the inspiring workflow with some hand-drawing.

Such designs with floral typography are very popular nowadays as the field of use is really wide. They can be used as separate elements of a larger design project, as stickers, prints on fabric or on mugs, as postcards and invitations, and much more! 

Choose another quote and change the flower design if you want to get a different look. You can find various flower sets on Envato Market in order to build a new composition quickly and easily. Also check out these calligraphy fonts that should look great in combination with flowers. And let’s begin!

1. Design the Text

Step 1

We’ll be working on a dark background. You can create a dark-purple rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M) on a separate layer and lock it in the Layers panel.

Now take the Ellipse tool (L), hold down Shift and let’s make a circle frame of 420 x 420 px size with a light-purple Stroke and no Fill. You can adjust the size of the objects either from the control panel on top or from the Transform panel (Window > Transform).

Head to the Stroke panel and set the Weight to 8 pt, Align Stroke to Inside.

Copy the circle and Paste in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Make the shape smaller, scaling it down to 445 x 445 px. Set its Stroke Weight to 4 pt in the Stroke panel.

make circle frame

Step 2

Let’s add the text “Into the Wild”, which will be the central element of the composition. Take the Type Tool (T) and use the Bebas free font or any other bold sans-serif font to your liking to add the word “INTO” (all caps). Press Control-T to open the Character panel and adjust the size of your text.

Place the word in the upper part of the frame. Select both the text and the circle frame and click the circle one more time to make it a Key Object (you will see a thicker selection). Go to the Align panel and use Horizontal Align Center to align the text to the center of the circle. 

Use the Mission Script or Pacifico or any other calligraphic font to add “the” in a smaller size. Finish up by adding the word “WILD” and Align all the words to Center.

add text

Step 3

Object > Expand to turn the text into curves. This will mean you can no longer edit the text (so check it for misprints first), but this way we’ll be able to apply various gradient fills and add outlines.

expand the text

Step 4

Let’s select the letters and apply a white 1 pt Stroke and a linear Gradient Fill from white to light beige. Add additional white and light-beige colors in the middle of the gradient slider to create a distinct edge between the colors. Use the Gradient Tool (G) to edit the direction of the gradient or set it to -90 degrees in the Gradient panel.

We want the word "the" to look thinner, so we won’t be applying the white stroke to it.

apply stroke and gradient

Step 5

Now let’s add a gentle flat shadow in order to separate the text from the background elements that we’ll be making later on. Copy the word and Paste in Back (Control-C > Control-B). Move the copy a few pixels down and to the right by pressing the down and right arrow keys while holding Shift.

Fill the copy with brown color and switch it into the Multiply Blending Mode in the Transparency panel to make it semi-transparent.

Add shadows to other words, using the same technique.

create a flat shadow

Step 6

Let’s add some more depth and dimension to the letters. Select the words and apply Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. In the pop-up Options window, select a dark-brown color in Multiply mode with 70% Opacity and 3 px Blur.

If you want to change some of the settings after applying the effect, you can easily do this from the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), by selecting the word and clicking the effect to edit it. 

apply the drop shadow effect

2. Create Floral Elements

Step 1

We’ll be using a bright palette of colors that will look good on a dark-purple background. The first two rows of colors are linear gradients, and the last row is a set of flat colors.

You can select similar colors or use the Eyedropper Tool (I), hold Shift and pick the color directly from the screenshot below, creating the same palette. This method also works for picking the colors for the gradient sliders in the Gradient panel.

make up a palette

Step 2

Let’s create a leaf brush to draw leaves quickly and easily. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a 65 x 30 px oval. Select both side anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and use the Convert function in the control panel on top to Convert selected anchor points to corner, thus making the leaf pointed.

create a leaf

Step 3

Drag and drop the created shape over the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and create an Art Brush.

In the pop-up Art Brush Options window, leave most of the settings as default except the Width of the brush, which we decrease to 50%, and the Colorization Method, which we set to Hue Shift (so that we can change the stroke color later).

Let’s click OK and try our brush.

create an Art Brush

Step 4

Take the Paintbrush Tool (B) and make a few smooth strokes. We can adjust the Stroke Width either from the Stroke panel or from the control panel on top, decreasing it to 0.5 pt.

We can also edit any brush setting by double-clicking the brush in the Brushes panel.

make a few smooth strokes

Step 5

Now let’s use another drawing tool to create a flower. Double-click the Pencil Tool (N) in the Tools panel to open its Options window. From here we can adjust the Fidelity slider, moving it closer to Smooth, and tick the needed Options, as shown in the image below.

Draw a flower and fill it with a bright linear gradient from light orange on top to darker orange in the bottom, picking it from our palette.

If you don’t like some parts of your shape, you can move the anchor points and the anchor handles with the Direct Selection Tool (A) to make everything smoother.

draw a flower with the pencil tool

Step 6

Now let’s depict the stem of the flower. We can use either the Paintbrush Tool (B) or the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B) to draw a wavy line. You can edit the settings of both tools by double-clicking them.

The difference between these two methods is that the Blob Brush Tool (B) allows us to draw with shapes, creating more of a hand-drawn look, while the Paintbrush Tool (B) makes strokes that are more flexible and easy to edit. It’s up to you to decide which tool is more convenient to use. In this tutorial we’ll be varying the tools, using both of them.

create a stem with paintbrush or blob brush

Step 7

Let’s attach a couple of leaves to the stem. Take the Paintbrush Tool (B) and use the leaf brush that we’ve created. Adjust the Stroke Width, if needed. I keep it at 1 pt.

We can also adjust the stroke itself, making it move wavy and flowing or more straight with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) by moving the anchor points and their handles.

Step 8

Use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw one more green element and combine all the parts of the flower together.

combine the elements of the flower

Step 9

Let’s draw a couple more flower buds using the Pencil Tool (N) and our color palette. Combine darker and lighter elements to make the flower more three-dimensional.

draw more flowers

Step 10

Now we’ll make a more complex flower. Combine two petals, placing the lighter petal on top. Use the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B) (or the Paintbrush Tool (B)) to make a few white stamens. Group (Control-G) the stamens and place them between the petals (Control-[). Add tiny white circles on top of each stamen.

make a more complex flower

Step 11

Continue designing flowers, using the drawing tools that we’ve reviewed. Here is the set of flowers that I’ve created for our floral composition. Some of them don’t have stems and leaves, because they will be hidden beneath the text.

create a set of flowers

3. Build a Balanced Floral Composition

Step 1

First of all, we should have a certain idea of how our future composition will look. I’m using the Pencil Tool (N) here with white Stroke to make a rough sketch on a new layer. Then I switch to red and draw wavy stems above the letters in order to decide where the elements will overlap and interlace. Finally, I’m using green strokes to depict the leaves.

Our sketch will guide us while we work on the composition. We can turn the visibility of the sketch layer on and off any time. However, the position of some elements might change during the work. It doesn’t really have to look the same as the sketch, as we'll be discovering some better options to give our composition a more balanced look.

make a rough sketch with the pencil tool

Step 2

Before filling our frame with flowers, let's head to the Layers panel and create several layers to arrange the objects and to keep our work neat and organized:

  • “elements_top” is a layer for the objects on top of the letters and the circle frame.
  • “text” is a layer for our typography.
  • “elements_middle” is a layer for the objects between the text and the circle frame.
  • “circles” is a layer for the circle frame.
  • “elements_bottom” is for any objects beneath the frame and the text.

Let’s place our first pink flower on the bottom layer, partially hiding it behind the letter “W”.

place a flower on the bottom layer

Step 3

Place another pink flower at the opposite side, and this time we want its petal to go between the circles of the frame. In order to do this, let’s move the outer circle to the bottom layer. We can do this either manually or by selecting the circle, right-clicking, and choosing Arrange > Send to Current Layer. Then press Shift-Control-[ to place the circle beneath the flower.

rearrange the objects

Step 4

Let’s place a yellow flower beneath the pink one. To do so, Cut (Control-X) the yellow flower, select the pink one, and Paste in Back (Control-B). Edit the position of the flowers and add a couple more.

add more flowers

Step 5

Let’s add another flower on top of the circle but beneath the text by placing it on the “elements_middle” layer. 

add a flower on a middle layer

Step 6

Place the orange flower bud on the “elements_middle” layer, covering the circles of the frame. And let’s hide its stem beneath the pink flower. Cut (Control-X) the stem, select the pink flower on the “elements_bottom” layer, and Paste the stem in Back (Control-B). Move the stem, attaching it to the orange flower bud.

place the stem beneath the flower

Step 7

Continue adding the flowers, pasting them on different layers, placing them behind the text and on top of the text.

Continue adding the flowers

4. Create Interlacing Elements

Step 1

Let’s make the composition more variable and playful by adding those interlacing elements among the letters.

Here we have a long thin stem beneath the word “WILD”, and we want to bring its middle part on top, so that it overlaps the letter “I”. 

Select the stem and take the Knife (you can find this tool in the same drop-down menu as the Eraser Tool (Shift-E)). Make two lines across the stem as shown in the image below, this way cutting the stem apart. Now we can select the middle piece and move it to the “elements_top” layer. We can do this either manually or just cut (Control-X) the piece, select the “elements_top” layer, and Paste in Front (Control-F).

cut the stem with the Knife tool

That’s how it looks all together—some pieces of the stem are on the bottom layer and one piece is on the top layer, covering the letter.

Step 2

Use the Paintbrush Tool (B) to make some leaves on the “elements_top” layer, placing the leaves on top of the letters.

add leaves with the paintbrush tool

Step 3

Now let’s move to the yellow flower on top and make its stem entwine the letter “T”. I’m using the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B) to lengthen the stem of the flower. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to combine the anchor points of the new shape with the edges of the stem, making it fit the stem.

lengthen the stem

Step 4

Now that the new part of the stem is ready, let’s add another stem, overlapping the letter “O”.

add another stem

Step 5

If you notice the pieces of the stem overlap as shown in the image below, then select both shapes, take the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), hold Alt and click the unneeded piece to delete it.

Step 6

Now we need to interlace the stem with the letter “O”. Let’s use the Knife to cut the piece above the letter “O” and place it on the “element_middle” layer (Arrange > Send to Current Layer), thus placing it beneath the letter.

cut the stem with the knife tool

Step 7

Add some leaves to the stem and continue adding interlacing stems: one to the letter “N” and another one to the letter “O”.

add some leaves

Step 8

Continue adding leaves on the top layer, using the Paintbrush Tool (B) and our custom art brush.

Continue adding leaves

That’s how it looks at this stage. You can add more entwining stems or make them thicker if you like.

the overall look

Step 9

Let’s make some of the flowers embrace and overlap the letters as well. Let’s take another red poppy flower that we’ve created and Ungroup (right mouse button, Ungroup) it, if needed. Place the dark petal together with the stamens on the bottom layer, beneath the letters.

As for the lighter red petal, Cut (Control-X) it, select the letter “N” and Paste in Back (Control-B). This way we’re placing this flower on the “text” layer between the letters.

Make sure that the letter “I” is beneath the red petal in the Layers panel. We can rearrange the objects in the Layers panel either manually or by pressing Control-[ to move them down or Control-] to move up.

place the flower between the letters

Step 10

Add another red flower embracing the letter “L” in the word “WILD”, placing the red petals between the letters.

Continue arranging the flowers around the letters, filling the blanks spots of the composition. As you can see, I’ve also speckled some small generic elements here and there to add a playful look.

I’ve used the Pencil Tool (N) to make some drop-like orange shapes above the orange flower on the left. Then I’ve added some yellow circles and red drop-shaped petals on top of the frame. Moving clockwise, I’ve speckled a group of blue hand-drawn hearts made with the Pencil Tool (N) as well. Finally, I’ve placed a few pink spots at the bottom, making them look like pollen from the pink flower.

add small generic elements

5. Add Leaves to the Bottom of the Composition

Step 1

Let’s finish up our floral composition by filling the empty spaces with dark leaves. We can either use the Paintbrush Tool (B), changing the Stroke color of the art brush that we created earlier, or we can use the Pencil Tool (N) and draw the leaves by hand. I want to make them look more hand-drawn and crafted, so I’ll be using the Pencil Tool (N) further on.

Select the “elements_bottom” layer and start drawing those dark-green leaves beneath the bottom pink flower, varying the size of the elements.

Continue adding leaves, moving clockwise. Don’t forget to add some in the center of the composition as well. Use different layers in order to add leaves between the flowers by cutting and pasting the elements, as we did previously.

draw leaves with the pencil tool

Step 2

Now we’ll be adding lighter-green leaves beneath the dark-green leaves, making the illustration more detailed. In order to do this, create a new “leaves” layer right under the “elements_bottom” layer.

Place some of the leaves on the “elements_top” layer as well in order to make them overlap the circle frame.

add more leaves

Step 3

Let’s add some flat shadows to the letters beneath the stems. First of all, copy the letters and paste those copies on a new layer.

Object > Expand Appearance of the letters to turn the outlines into curves and Unite the objects in the Pathfinder. Then press Control-8 to Make Compound Path, thus turning the group of objects into a single path.

copy the letters and make compound path

Step 4

I reduced the Opacity of the compound path in the Transparency panel in order to make the original letters clearly visible.

Take the Pencil Tool (N) and start drawing the light-brown shadows beneath the leaves and stems.

draw the shadows with the pencil tool

Step 5

Draw as many shadow shapes as needed above both words. Then select all the light-brown shapes and Make Compound Path (Control-8).

Finally, select both the shadow shape and the letters compound path and apply the Intersect function of the Pathfinder to cut the shapes, making them fit the letters.

Finish up by switching the Blending Mode of the shadows to Multiply in the Transparency panel.

intersect the shadows

Here how everything looks all together. Balanced and finished!

the finished look

Congratulations! Our Floral Text Composition Is Ready!

Great job! I hope you’ve enjoyed following this inspirational tutorial and discovered some new tips and tricks that will help you to design more floral compositions that you can use as prints or stickers.

Have fun!

Floral Text Composition is Ready
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