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How to Draw a Colorful Autumn Background With Leaves in Adobe Illustrator

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Read Time: 4 min
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this simple tutorial, you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool in Adobe Illustrator to create a bunch of autumn leaves!

If you want to skip the tutorial and just use these leaves in your work, you can purchase the Autumn background with colorful leaves from GraphicRiver!

Autumn Background with colorful leavesAutumn Background with colorful leavesAutumn Background with colorful leaves
Autumn Background With Colorful Leaves

1. How to Draw a Leaf

Let's begin by drawing a red leaf with Gradient Mesh.

Step 1

Start by drawing a shape similar to the one in the screenshot below. You can use the Pen Tool (P).

Color the whole shape with #E54F2A and then grab the Mesh Tool (U)! Using the Mesh Tool, place nodes as indicated in the screenshot to create a Mesh Grid.

Next, add more nodes and drag them around to create a shape that resembles a half of a leaf. Then select the bottom row of mesh nodes and color them with #CF3A25!

Next, add a thin colored line by adding more mesh nodes and coloring the selected middle row with #931B23.

Continue by coloring the nodes that are selected in each part of the screenshot. You will need these colors:

  1. #E54F2A
  2. #CF3A25
  3. #931B23
  4. #B9B23
  5. #D03E26
  6. #D44127
draw half of the leafdraw half of the leafdraw half of the leaf

Step 2

Continue similarly—look for the selected nodes and color them!

You will need these colors:

  1. #5B0922
  2. #DD4A29
  3. #D03D25
  4. #D74327
  5. #B82E24
  6. #ED5D2F
detail the leafdetail the leafdetail the leaf

Step 3

Let's draw the left part of the leaf in the same fashion! Use these colors:

  1. #D74327
  2. #9A1B23
  3. #C03023
  4. #C12F23
  5. #ED5A2E
  6. #861322
draw left halfdraw left halfdraw left half

Step 4

Grab both parts of the leaf and align them together. This creates Leaf 1.

connect the halvesconnect the halvesconnect the halves

Step 5

To create Leaf 2, simply create a vertically reflected copy of Leaf 1 (Object > Transform > Reflect).

reflect the leafreflect the leafreflect the leaf

Step 6

For Leaf 3, grab a copy of Leaf 2 and modify its left side by bringing in its edges a bit.

modify the leafmodify the leafmodify the leaf

Step 7

Put Leaf 1 and 2 together, as indicated below.

put both togetherput both togetherput both together

Step 8

Finally, add Leaf 3!

add final partadd final partadd final part

2. How to Draw the Stem

Step 1

Now that we're done with the leaf, draw a stem for it.

Begin by drawing a long and narrow rectangle, coloring it with #CE3125 and adding a 5x4 Mesh Grid to it.

Color the second from the top row with #F79487 and the fourth from the top with #BC2B23.

draw the stemdraw the stemdraw the stem

Step 2

Zoom in on the left side of the stem and stretch the Mesh there a bit. Continue by coloring the indicated nodes with the indicated colors:

  1. #861F36
  2. #4E0924
  3. #5D0F27
color the left sidecolor the left sidecolor the left side

Step 3

Continue on the right side of the step in a similar fashion. Use these colors:

  1. #E5643F
  2. #510B2A
  3. #8C1E29
  4. #AB2929
color the right sidecolor the right sidecolor the right side

Step 4

Grab the Warp Tool (Shift-R), and, using the following settings, bend the stem to make it more realistic:

  • Width: 90 px
  • Height: 90 px
  • Angle: 0°
  • Intensity: 20%
  • Detail: 7
  • Simplify: 13
warp the stemwarp the stemwarp the stem

Step 5

Finally, change the right edge's Opacity to 0%.

change opacitychange opacitychange opacity

Step 6

Attach the stem to the leaf!

attach the stemattach the stemattach the stem

3. How to Recolor the Leaves

Step 1

Make a copy of the red leaf and start by turning our leaf black and white by going to Edit > Edit Colors > Convert to Grayscale.

convert to greyconvert to greyconvert to grey

Step 2

Turn that grey leaf yellow by going to Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Colors, selecting RGB Color Mode in the dropdown menu on the top, ticking Convert, and applying these settings:

  • Red: 49%
  • Green: 16%
  • Blue: -64%
color to yellowcolor to yellowcolor to yellow

Step 3

Make a copy of the yellow leaf and turn it orange with the following settings:

  • Red: -5%
  • Green: -12%
  • Blue: 0%
color to orangecolor to orangecolor to orange

4. How to Create the Background

Step 1

For this final part, draw a background by simply adding a colored Mesh node (#FFA83F) to a white rectangle.

draw backgrounddraw backgrounddraw background

Step 2

Now create a shadow for the leaves! Draw an ellipse with a Radial gradient (#CAA27C to white) and change its Transparency mode to Multiply.

draw shadowdraw shadowdraw shadow

Step 3

Add a cluster of these ellipses to create a shadow under the orange leaf.

add shadowsadd shadowsadd shadows

Step 4

Similarly, apply the shadows to the yellow leaf and place it on top of the orange one.

add more shadowsadd more shadowsadd more shadows

Step 5

Finally, add the red leaf with its own shadows.

add final leafadd final leafadd final leaf

Step 6

If you want to add more depth to the picture, learn how to create this sort of highlight in the last section of my window frame tutorial.

Then, create a smaller copy of it and place it in the middle of the original.

create highlightscreate highlightscreate highlights

Step 7

Turn the Opacity of both shapes down to 60% and change their Transparency mode to Overlay.

change opacitychange opacitychange opacity

Step 8

Create some copies of the highlight like so:

create copiescreate copiescreate copies

Step 9

And place them on top of the leaves!

Put the background we made in Step 1 under the leaves.

add everything togetheradd everything togetheradd everything together

Step 10

We're done! For a final improvement, you can learn how to draw bokeh lights in my sunflower tutorial (the first section of the tutorial).

Add them if you feel like it!

final version - add bokeh lightsfinal version - add bokeh lightsfinal version - add bokeh lights

Awesome Work, You're Now Done!

Thank you for following along, and please feel welcome to post your result in the comments. I'll be looking forward to seeing it!

In this tutorial, you learned how to create beautiful photo-realistic autumn leaves using the Mesh Tool.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and learned how to use some useful tools for the future! Check out some of my other vector tutorials on my instructor profile.

You can purchase these leaves as well as other similar designs in my portfolio on GraphicRiver.

Autumn Background With Colorful Leaves
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