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How to Create a Vintage Card With Mistletoe in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

’Tis the season to be jolly! The season of joy is finally upon us. What comes to your mind when you think of Christmas? Of course the Christmas tree, the gifts, the warm fireplace, the advent calendars. And mistletoe!

Mistletoe, from the Old English "misteltãn", is a parasitic plant that grows on various trees, particularly the apple tree. It is held in great veneration when found on oak trees.

Men were allowed to steal a kiss from any woman caught standing under the mistletoe, and refusing was viewed as bad luck. Yet another tradition instructed the merrymakers to pluck a single berry from the mistletoe with each kiss, and to stop smooching once they were all gone, according to History.

Mistletoe was also used as an aphrodisiac and it was used as an antidote to poison and to witchcraft as well, according to Indobase Holidays. So the custom of hanging mistletoe over a doorway to ward off evil spirits from crossing your threshold came upon us.

Phew! I never knew so much story was behind this little plant. If you'd like to read more about the legends, hop over to the following links for more stories

In the spirit of mistletoe, in this tutorial, you will learn how to create a vintage greeting card with lovely mistletoe. We will use basic shapes, a roughen effect and spatter-like brushes to create a vintage effect. This card can be printed out so that you can hand-write greetings to be sent to your family and friends!

If you adore vintage greeting cards as much as I do, take your inspiration in Envato Market

1. Create the Card Shape

Step 1

First, we’ll start by creating a New Document with 600 x 600 px Width and Height.

This will get us started with the card shape. Since we’re creating a vintage card, we will try to use vintage-looking colors. For instance, instead of white borders on the card, we’ll use as little yellow/brownish color for the border. This will enhance the aged look of our vintage card.

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle, 580 px Height and 500 px Width. This is the shape of the card. You can see the fill color code (with no stroke) in the image below. 

To show that the card is very old, we’re going to distort the sides. Go to Effect > Distort and Transform > Roughen and enter the following options: Size: 2 px Absolute, Detail 10/in, Points: Smooth and then press OK.

Expand the shape of the card: go to Object > Expand Appearance.

creating the background

Step 2

To create the inside frame, our background for the card, go to Object > Path > Offset Path. In the new dialogue window, enter Offset -30 px (notice, this is a negative number), Joins: Miter, Miter limit: 4, and click OK

Be sure to change the fill color to the color you see in the image below. The two colors that we selected here create an effect that the card was once a blue card with white borders.

creating the background 2

Step 3

Delete the fill color and set the stroke color as shown below. Using the Line Segment Tool (\), draw a line on the bottom of the card. Holding down the Shift and Alt keys together, slightly move this line down. You just created a copy of it.

Press Control-D one more time to repeat your last movement, until you have three lines. This is the place where you can later type or hand-write your greetings.

creating the lines for later typing

2. Create the Mistletoe

Step 1

Using the Line Segment Tool (\) and the same stroke color as the line from the previous step, let's create the stalk of the mistletoe. 

Once you select this tool, look at the Stroke panel—increase the stroke Weight to 3 px, and check Round Cap. Then start to draw. First, draw a few long stalks, and then branch out and add a few smaller ones too.

creating the mistletoe stalks

Step 2

Now we will create the leaf. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw an ellipse. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move the handles of the anchor points to achieve the result you see below. Hold down the Alt key, if you want to change the directions of a handle in order to make a sharp corner.

creating the mistletoe leaf

Step 3

Keep the leaf selected and take the Reflect Tool (O). While holding down the Alt key, click on the right side of it. In the new dialogue window, select Vertical, Angle 90 degrees and press Copy. Now we should have two leaves. Let’s add a small light green ellipse in the middle.

For your convenience, group the leaves (right-click > Group).

creating the mistletoe leaves

Step 4

Spread the leaves on the stalks. Be sure to leave a few stalks free, because in the next step, you will put some berries on these.

placing the leaves on stalks

3. Create the Berry

Step 1

To create an even circle for the berry, use the Ellipse Tool (L) while holding down the Shift key. To this, add a lighter colored circle on top of the berry (it doesn't have to be exactly centered), and then a tiny brown circle on the bottom. Group (right-click > Group) the whole berry, so that you can easily move them.

creating the berry

Step 2

Spread berries all over the mistletoe.

placing berries on stalks

4. Create the Ribbon

Step 1

Delete the fill color you had before and set the stroke color. In the Stroke panel, make the Weight 6 px. Draw an ellipse. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the top and bottom anchor points and shift them to the left. 

Now, we want to get a sharp corner with the help of the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Click on the right anchor point. We just made one loop of the bow.

creating the loop of the bow

Step 2

Incline the loop to the left.

To create the other loop, we will use the Reflect Tool (O) as you did for the green leaf of the mistletoe. Once you have the two loops, draw two ribbon ends using the Line Segment Tool (\). And for the final touch, add a small ellipse in the middle of the bow without the stroke color and the fill color you see in the image below.

Group the bow.

creating another parts of the bow

Step 3

Place the bow on the mistletoe. Add few more lines (the same stroke color as the bow loops) behind the bow and on top of the plant. This will create the effect of bound mistletoe branches.

placing the bow on the mistletoe

Step 4

Place everything you just created on the card background.

placing the mistletoe on the card

5. Add a Vintage Effect on the Card

Step 1

Open your Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and look for spatter-like brushes in the library. For example, I’m using Illustrator CS 4 and my brushes are from Brush Libraries, Menu > Artistic > Artistic Ink.

choosing the brush

Step 2

Take one of these brushes, delete the fill color, and set the stroke color to R=236 G=227 B=202. Draw a few lines over the card.

creating the old effect

Select all these lines (Select > Same > Fill & Stroke) and expand them (Object > Expand Appearance).

expanding the brushes

Step 3

In this step, we will cut out all the spots that are outside the borders of the card.

Select the outer light background and make a copy of it in front (Control-C, Control-F). After that, we need to transfer this copy in front of everything. So cut out the copy (Control-X) and place it in front of everything (Control-F). Then select all the spots again and press the Crop button in Pathfinder. And finally, the clean-up: go to Object > Path > Clean Up.

cropping brushes

Step 4

Go to the Transparency panel, change its Blending Mode to Soft Light, and lower its Opacity to 50%.

We are done!

applying Blending Mode


Congratulations—you just made a vintage-themed Christmas card! I’m sure you will come up with great results, because you have been showing me some awesome works in the past down in the comments section below. I hope you have learned something new in this tutorial and will use some of the techniques in your future projects.

Stay warm, and Happy Holidays!

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