In this tutorial we’ll create a festive postcard with floral wreath to celebrate a lovely Bahá'í spring holiday—Naw-Rúz! We’ll be using basic shapes and functions in Adobe Illustrator to create floral elements for our own elegant brushes, forming a gentle ornamental composition.
Naw-Rúz is celebrated in March, on the vernal equinox. It is the first day of the Bahá'í calendar year and one of nine holy days for adherents of the Bahá'í faith. It is usually a festive event observed with meetings for prayer, music and dancing.
Our floral composition will help us to create a simple yet festive postcard, giving us a sense of the spring mood and the holiday atmosphere. What is more, the techniques we’ll be using here are very versatile, so it's possible to use such a style of cards not only for celebrating Naw-Rúz, but also for wedding invitations, elegant birthday cards, and all kinds of spring and summer templates.
Let’s try it out!
1. Create the Leaves & Branches for the Pattern Brushes
Let’s start by creating a small flexible stem. Take the Line Segment Tool (\) and hold down Shift to make a vertical line of 150 px height. Head to the control panel on top, set the Stroke Weight to 4 pt, and change the Variable Width Profile to one of the default profiles, which makes the line bulgy in the middle and thin at the ends.
Now let’s shape a leaf. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and make a 5 x 20 px oval. Select the bottom anchor point with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Find the Convert menu on the top control panel and click Convert selected anchor points to corner, making the leaf pointed. Do the same for the top anchor point of the shape.
Select the stem that we’ve made and Object > Expand it, turning the stroke into a shape. Squash the stem a bit, making it somewhat thinner. Take the leaf that we’ve created, make it much smaller, and place it on top of the stem.
Hold Alt-Shift and drag the leaf down to make a copy. Place it on the left side of the stem. Keeping the leaf selected, double-click the Reflect Tool (O) and flip the shape over the Vertical Axis. Click Copy to add another leaf on the right side of the stem.
Now we can group (Control-G) these two leaves and make more copies, varying the size and the spacing between the leaves' groups.
Copy the stem and make a variation: take away the leaf on the top and change the color of the elements to lighter blue.
Create a second stem, and let’s form some new leaves of another shape. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a 2 x 10 px oval with 1 pt Stroke and no Fill. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to extend the handles of the upper anchor point to make the top of the leaf wider.
Start attaching the leaves to the stem and varying their sizes, making the central leaves a bit larger than those at the tips of the stem.
Now that we have three branches, let’s create our brushes! Rotate the branches 90 degrees, putting them horizontally. Select the first stem, and drag and drop it to the Brushes panel. In the pop-up New Brush menu, select Pattern Brush, and let’s take a look at the variety of the Pattern Brush Options.
Set the Scale to 100% Fixed and the Spacing to 0%. Further, let’s set the Outer and Inner Corners Tile to Auto-Overlap. Leave the Side Tile as Original by default. Set the Fit option to Stretch to Fit. As for Colorization Method, you can leave it as None by default if you don’t want to change the color of the brush stroke. Otherwise, you can set it to Tints and Shades if you want to alternate the color from the Color panel. In any case, we will be working with the colors later, so you don’t need to worry about the colors at this stage.
Create two more Pattern Brushes, using the remaining stems.
Now let’s see our brushes in action! Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and hold Shift to make a 370 x 370 px circle. Select our brush from the Brushes panel, applying it to the circle.
Great! Now we have a nice, minimalistic wreath. Let’s move on and add more details to make a festive, ornate wreath.
Make a smaller circle on top of the first one, and let’s apply our second brush with dark-blue leaves. And we can still change all the settings in the Pattern Brush Options window if we double-click our brush in the Brushes panel.
Let’s increase the Scale of our dark-blue brush to about 160% and set the Spacing to 30%. This way we can make the elements larger and leave some more distance between them, adding more air to our wreath.
Make another circle and apply our third brush. You can vary the size of each circle, combining them with each other.
2. Create Floral & Berry Elements
Let’s add bright floral elements to our wreath, creating a spring holiday mood.
Start by forming a petal from a 10 x 30 px pink ellipse. Double-click the Rotate Tool (R) to open the pop-up options window, and set the Angle value to 10 degrees. Use the Reflect Tool (O) to create a mirrored copy of the rotated petal. Align the bottom parts of the petals, making them overlap and creating a stylized heart shape.
Group the two petals that we’ve created and use the Reflect Tool (O) again, but this time flip the shape over the Horizontal Axis and click Copy to make an upside-down heart-shaped petal.
Group (Control-G) both elements, Copy them and Paste in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Rotate the copy 45 degrees by using the Selection Tool (V) and holding Shift. Use the Reflect Tool to create a mirrored copy.
Voila! Now we have a flower. Let’s add a central element!
Take the Polygon Tool and create an octagon of 15 x 15 px size. Fill it with yellow color.
Place the shape in the center of the flower and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat. Move the slider to 60%, making our octagon look like a cute flower. Click OK and Object > Expand Appearance of the shape to apply the effect.
Let’s make another flower, using the similar technique. Create a 10 x 30 px ellipse of a gentle cream-beige color. Hold Alt-Shift and drag the ellipse down, making a copy. Group (Control-G) both petals and duplicate them, placing the copy horizontally. Create two more copies of the petals, rotating them 45 degrees and thus forming a flower.
Finally, decorate the center of the flower with a group of white circles, varying their sizes and position.
Now that we have a couple of flowers, let’s also create a couple of leaves. Start by making a 30 x 70 px oval of a rich green color. Select its top and bottom anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and use the Convert function to Convert selected anchor points to corner, making the tips of the leaf pointed.
Use the Line Segment Tool (\) to form a vertical midrib across the leaf.
Add smaller strokes, attaching them to the midrib, forming the veins of the leaf. Finally, group all the elements of the leaf together.
Make a copy of the leaf base (without its elements), filling it with lighter-green color. This will be the second variation of our leaf.
Now let’s render some minor elements and particles. Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and make a 15 x 15 px circle for the berry.
Let’s add details to the top of the berry. Make a 5 x 2 px oval of a bright-orange color and rotate it 45 degrees. Use the Reflect Tool (O) to make a mirrored copy, forming a cross. Place the cross on top of the berry.
Finally, use the base of the cream flower to make a tiny green particle. And use one of the branches with leaves from the previous part to make a small yellow branch with larger leaves at the bottom and smaller leaves on top.
Great! Now we have a set of generic elements that will help us to decorate our wreath, making it look festive.
3. Create Scatter Brushes From the Floral Elements & Berries
Drag and drop the pink flower to the Brushes panel and this time create a Scatter Brush. From here, in the Options window, let's try setting the following parameters:
- Size: Random from 50% to 100%
- Spacing: Random from 350% to 160%
- Scatter: Fixed to -20%
- Rotation: Random from -70 degrees to 40 degrees
Create a new circle above our wreath and apply the new flower scatter brush to see how it looks.
You can always double-click the brush in the Brushes panel to open the Options window and play with the settings, changing the parameters to you liking. Your wreath may differ from mine at this stage, as we’ve set some parameters to Random values. Move the sliders until you get the look you want, making the wreath look balanced.
Now let’s add the leaves to the wreath. Create a Scatter Brush with the following settings:
- Size: Random from 40% to 100%
- Spacing: Random from 340% to 100%
- Scatter: Random from -40% to 30%
- Rotation: Random from 45 degrees to -10 degrees
Set the Rotation relative to Path, selecting it from the small drop-down menu beneath the parameters.
Apply the leaves brushes to a new circle on the wreath, and move it back to one position by pressing Control-[ and placing it beneath the flowers circle.
Move on and create another Scatter Brush with the lighter green leaves. Play with the parameters, setting them either to your liking or using my settings from the screenshot below.
Now let’s add those yellow branches with leaves. Here I’ve decided to make a Pattern Brush, because the shape of the elements is very similar to the blue branches that we made previously. In the Options window I’ve decided to increase the Scale to 200% and set the Spacing to 80%, leaving enough space between the elements.
Now it's time to add those creamy flowers. Make a new Scatter Brush. Speckle the flowers evenly along the circle, setting the appropriate parameters.
Add the rest of the elements (a berry and a tiny green flower) to the Brushes panel as well, making Scatter Brushes. As a result, all in all we have four Pattern Brushes with branches and six Scatter Brushes with floral elements.
During the process of forming the wreath, I sometimes go back to some of the brushes that we’ve made and adjust their settings, making the elements larger or smaller, changing the spacing between them or varying the scatter value. This technique is very flexible, and it makes every wreath look unique.
Add the tiny flowers and berries to the wreath. Great! Our wreath already looks balanced and completed at this stage. Let’s move on and see what else can we do with it to make a bit more balanced.
4. Create the Naw-Rúz Cards
Now that we’ve formed our wreath, it still consists of brush strokes. Group (Control-G) all the circles of the wreath together and duplicate (Control-C > Control-V) it, keeping the copy on a separate locked layer in case you’d like to change some of the brushes' options later.
Select the second wreath and Object > Expand Appearance, turning our brush strokes into several groups of objects: a group of flowers, a group of leaves, and so on.
In some of the latest versions of Adobe Illustrator, you may notice a transparent frame with no Fill and no Stroke around each element. In order to get rid of those unneeded frames, select everything and go to Object > Path > Clean Up.
Now we can select each group of elements, double-click to isolate it, and edit the objects inside the group.
Here, for example, I adjust the position of the leaves, rotating them and placing them under the flower blossoms. Then I also edit the position of the yellow branches, changing their direction, to make the wreath bushier.
I like placing the light-green leaves right under the dark-green ones, creating a certain combination, like in a flower bouquet. I also make the pink flowers larger, making them the main elements of the wreath, which attract the viewers’ attention. As for the cream flowers, I use them as secondary elements, placing them next to the pink flowers to emphasize and supplement them.
Now we can start forming an elegant minimalistic postcard, symbolizing the joyful spring atmosphere of the Naw-Rúz celebration! Let’s make a purple square of about 600 x 600 px size and place it right under the wreath, Sending it to Back (Shift-Control-[).
In order to make the wreath harmonize with the background, let’s make the colors blend nicely with each other. We'll be using the Magic Wand Tool (Y) to recolor the same elements quickly and easily.
First of all, open the Magic Wand options panel (Window > Magic Wand) and set the Fill Color Tolerance to 0. This way, the tool will select the elements of only one and the same color, without variations.
Take the Magic Wand Tool (Y) and select the yellow branches. Switch the color to darker orange, reducing the contrast between the elements.
Then select one of the bottom branches. Take the Eyedropper Tool (I) and pick the purple color from the background. Head to the Color panel and make the purple tint slightly lighter, making the elements visible. Move to the next branches and change their color from blue to purple as well, making them brighter than the previous branch.
Change the color of the berries from yellow to pink to make them fit the background color.
Play with other colors to your liking, making the overall palette look harmonious and gentle.
To make our card look complete, let’s place a congratulation message or some warm wishes in the center of our card, so that we could send it to our friends or family members.
I use Sophia Free Font, which is made from brush hand-lettering. It adds a handmade touch to our card, making it look cozy and sincere.
Let’s copy our card and try some other color combinations. Fill the background with a subtle pink color and switch some of the branches to white, making the card look light and bright. Change the color of the letters to white as well.
I like to make the postcards more detailed by adding textures, which give a certain retro look.
Let’s Copy the background rectangle and Place it in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Head to the Swatches panel, click the Swatch Libraries menu icon to open the drop-down menu, and find Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_dots. From here, click the 6 dpi 20% pattern to apply a nice polka-dot pattern to the copy of the background.
And let’s change the color of the pattern to make it fit our gentle palette. Double-click the applied pattern in the Swatches panel to isolate it in Pattern Mode. Now we can edit the separate elements of the pattern. Select the black dots and change their color to light pink (slightly lighter than the background).
Here are some other color variations that I’ve made, using the abovementioned techniques. I hope they will inspire you to try some other palettes, combining the colors and making them match.
Happy Naw-Rúz, Everyone! Our Gentle Floral Postcard Is Ready!
Wonderful job, my friends! We’ve learned to work with simple shapes and basic operations in Adobe Illustrator, which helped us to create these floral brushes. They are handy not only for Naw-Rúz holiday cards, but for any kind of spring floral invitations and decorations.
I hope you enjoyed creating this simple yet elegant card as much as I did. Be inspired and enjoy the spring!