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How to Create Spring Flowers With the Gradient Mesh in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool, as well as how to make your images look better simply with some tweaks to Transparency settings. And you'll also be creating a natural spring background with flowers!

If you'd like to skip this tutorial and wish to purchase the end result in a variety of layouts in banner form, with Christmas themed tags, head over to GraphicRiver to purchase Spring Background with Blossoming Tree Branch.

Spring Background

Before we start, you will need to download the attachment using the button on the right. It contains a file, created by me, that is going to be useful.

1. How to Create Flower Petals

Step 1

Start by creating a pink ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L). Color it with #FAE8E6 and create a node in the middle by clicking with the Mesh Tool (U).

pink ellipse with a mesh node in the middle

Step 2

Modify the shape to look like the picture below by dragging nodes with the Mesh Tool (U).

shape the circle so it looks like an asymmetrical flower petall

Step 3

Using the Mesh Tool (U), create a mesh, similar to the one in the screenshot.

create a mesh that has 6 rows and 4 columns

Step 4

Color the individual Mesh Nodes according to the picture below—the code of the color you need to use is written in the annotation. To select multiple nodes at the same time, use the Lasso Tool (Q) or Shift-click with the Direct Selection Tool (A).

color the petal with some darker pink nodes in the middle and a couple dark yellow nodes on the right

Step 5

Now that we have finished creating the petal, let's use it to make a flower! Create a few copies of the finished petal (use Control-C, Control-V or drag them while holding the Alt key) and rotate them to look like this:

arrange three petals

The top-right petal should be under the other petals. You can achieve that by using the Send Backward (Control-[) function you can find in the Arrange menu after right-clicking an object.

Step 6

Finish arranging the flower by adding a few more petals.

arrange the petals to fill in the empty space

Don't worry about the opening in the middle—it will be taken care of in the next couple of sections!

2. How to Create Flower Stamens and Assemble the Flower

Step 1

Let's create the stamens of the flower. Start by creating a narrow rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M). Create a Mesh Node in the middle, just as we did in the previous section of the tutorial. Color the rectangle with #E5BE93.

very long narrow rectangle

Step 2

Create more Mesh Nodes and color them as shown in the screenshot below—use the Mesh Tool (U).

color the shape so its darker on the left and lighter on the right add a highlight

Step 3

Now that our rectangle is colored, Warp it using Effect > Warp > Arch. The settings should be as follows:

  • Bend 19%
  • Horizontal -38%
bend the shape with arch

Step 4

Expand Appearance of the shape using Object > Expand Appearance. Don't forget to do this any time you use the Warp effect in the future!

expand appearance of the object

Step 5

Copy and arrange the bent shape to look like the picture below.

add four shapes heading to the right direction with semi-regular spaces between them

Step 6

Create a smaller copy of the shape and arrange it as shown in the screenshot below. Change the color with Edit > Edit Colors > Saturate. Set the Intensity to -20%.

lower intensity by 20

Step 7

Move the second group under the first one.

arrange the second group under the first one so it fills in the big spaces

Step 8

Let's move on to create the second part of the stamen. Create an ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (L) and fill it with an orange color—you can use #EEAF58.

create a narrow ellipse with EEAF58

Step 9

Create a Mesh in the shape using Object > Create Gradient Mesh. Set the number of Rows to 4 and of Columns to 5.

create gradient mesh as mentioned above

Step 10

Color in the Mesh by selecting the nodes shown in the screenshot and coloring them with the color indicated.

make the bottom darker and the top lighter

Step 11

Add the finished ellipses to the group we finished in Step 7. You can arrange them yourself or follow the picture below.

add two or one ellipse to each stalk

Step 12

Create a copy of the finished creation, rotate it, and scale it so the result looks similar to the shape below.

attach the copy to the original creation so it looks like a bowtie

Step 13

Finally, we will make a shadow for our stamens. Create an ellipse and fill it with a radial Gradient from brown to orange to white.

radial gradient from 512E05 to E6BE79 to white

Step 14

With the Gradient Tool (G), stretch the gradient so it follows the shape of the ellipse.

gradient follows the shape of the ellipse but is a little smaller

Step 15

Set the Transparency to Multiply and the Opacity to 80% in the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency).

transparency settings mentioned above

Step 16

Finally, arrange the objects created in this section onto the petals from the previous section.

finished flower

Step 17

For this step, be creative! Create a couple more different versions of the flower. You can rotate, add or take away petals, arrange them differently, and adjust their Opacity in the Transparency panel or even their color in Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Colors.

I have made a few sample flowers:

example of different flowers you can create

Once you're happy with the flowers you have made, move on to the next section!

3. How to Create Leaves

Step 1

Create an ellipse and fill it with #5F8500.

narrow ellipse 5F8500

Step 2

Follow the picture to create and color a Mesh.

color the middle darker and two nodes above and below the middle lighter

Step 3

Draw lines for the leaf with the Pen Tool (P). Apply a green #9E9E02 stroke to it and assign Width Profile 4 to it in the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke).

assign the width profile that looks like a triangle pointing to the left

Step 4

Select all the lines and Unite them in the Window > Pathfinder panel.

Unite in the Pathfinder panel

Step 5

Put the lines on top of the ellipse. Open the .ai file you downloaded from clicking Download Attachment on the right of the page, and put the shape you find in there on top of the leaf. You can use your own shape for this step, if you want.

Select all the elements and right click, choosing Make Clipping Mask in the menu.

make clipping mask after right-clicking

Step 6

This is how your finished leaf should look.

finished leaf

Step 7

Create a copy of the leaf and Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Colors to make it look lighter. Use 13% Red and 10% Green.

follow the instructions above

4. How to Create Twigs

Step 1

Create a narrow rectangle and fill it with #030100.

long narrow rectangle 030100

Step 2

Create a single Mesh node in the middle with the Mesh Tool (U), and color it with #714B00.

one mesh node in the middle 714B00 color

Step 3

Bend the shape by Effect > Warp > Arch, applying 10% Bend to it. Don't forget to Expand Appearance.

bend the twig with arch as mentioned above

Step 4

Create a couple of Mesh nodes and drag one of them so it looks like the picture below.

drag one node in the middle upwards

Step 5

Create more Mesh nodes to mimic the Mesh in the screenshot.

create 5 columns and 4 rows of mesh

Step 6

Color the twig, following the pictures below.

color the twig so there is lighter brown in the middle

Step 7

Create another rectangle, this time filling it with #5D6A2C color.

long narrow rectangle with 5D6A2C

Step 8

Warp it, as we did it in Step 2 of this section, applying the following settings:

  • Bend 24%
  • Horizontal -40%
bend the stalk with the mentioned settings

Expand Appearance of the object.

Step 9

Color the object using the Mesh and following the pictures below.

color the stalk with four colors - darkest on the right side lighter in the middle lightest on the right side on the bottom

Step 10

Attach the newly made shape to the twig we finished in Step 6.

attach the green stalk to the twig

5. How to Create the Background

Step 1

Create a rectangle and color it with the #F2F2E2 color.

square with F2F2E2

Step 2

Using the Mesh Tool (U), create a Mesh as shown in the picture below.

mesh with 4 rows and 5 columns

Step 3

Color the different nodes, following the picture below.

color the background with green nodes under the spaces the leaves are going to be in and pink under the flowers

6. How to Put It All Together

Great! We have finished making all of the different elements! This section depends on your creativity.

Step 1

Simply grab all of the objects we have made in Sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 and arrange them to make one or two beautiful branches with spring flowers and leaves! You can look at my result for inspiration.

example of the finished branches

Step 2

Take the background we made in Section 5 and put your flowers on top of it. Next, create a rectangle on top of all elements. The rectangle should include everything you want in the final picture. 

Finally, select all elements (Control-A), right click and choose Make Clipping Mask.

make clipping mask after selecting all and right-clicking

Awesome Work, You're Now Done!

What now? You can add some additional elements (for example, bokeh highlights) and play around until you are fully satisfied with your spring flowers background!

finished image

In this tutorial, you learned how to create a spring flower background, primarily using the Mesh Tool and the Warp effects.

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

You can find a similar spring flowers background on GraphicRiver, and there are even more in my portfolio!

Spring Background
Spring background with a blossoming tree branch
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