Unlimited PS Actions, graphics, videos & courses! Unlimited asset downloads! From $16.50/m
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Gradient Mesh Tool

How to Create a Thanksgiving Background With a Pumpkin and Leaves in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool in Adobe Illustrator to create a vector Thanksgiving background!

If you want to skip the tutorial and just use this background with some other awesome elements, purchase the Happy Thanksgiving Background from GraphicRiver!

Happy Thanksgiving Background
Happy Thanksgiving Background

1. How to Draw the Pumpkin

Step 1

Let's start by drawing the pumpkin with Gradient Mesh.

Create an orange object in the shape of a pumpkin —the color is #E3860F. Next, grab the Mesh Tool (U). Click to create nodes, which in turn create a Mesh Grid

Once your Mesh Grid resembles the one shown below, select the right cluster of nodes (they are already colored differently in the screenshot) and color them with #CC5A18.

Next, select nodes that are lighter (they're selected below) and proceed to change their color to #EBA427. Add some darker orange tones in the fourth step with #BE361B, and then darken it more with #C3431A and #CB7F31

Always make sure to select the nodes that are selected in each screenshot below and apply the corresponding color to them!

draw pumpkin with mesh

Step 2

Continue coloring the pumpkin with the help of the screenshot below. You will need to use these colors:

  1. #EAA30B
  2. #D96716
  3. #B04312
  4. #F0C174
  5. #D77310
  6. #DF8517
gradient mesh tutorial

Step 3

Finish the mesh using these colors:

  1. #FAE1CB
  2. #E69A2F
  3. #CF6512
  4. #EEB963
  5. #D86611
  6. #EEB457
thanksgiving vector

Step 4

Draw another element.

  1. #E4A15B
  2. #B7471E
  3. #CCBBA8
  4. #F2E1D6
  5. #C3551D
adobe illustrator mesh pumpkin

Step 5

Begin drawing the stem.

  1. #2C3018
  2. #9D592C
  3. #82785D
  4. #4F4D34
  5. #0B1304
  6. #C6B293
gradient mesh pumpkin tutorial

Step 6

Finish the stem.

  1. #6E664D
  2. #1B210E
  3. #F5F5F5
thanksgiving background vector

Step 7

Assemble the pumpkin!

mesh pumpkin vector adobe illustrator photo-realistic

2. How to Draw the Leaves

Step 1

Draw a leaf with mesh. Use these colors:

  1. #CB1400
  2. Create the Mesh Grid
  3. #AC1400
mesh red leaf

Step 2

Use a #BA600F Stroke with a specific Stroke Profile for the details.

Expand the line, and then set it to Multiply with 20% Opacity.


Step 3

Place the line in the middle of the leaf, and then add a Clipping Mask as shown below.

clipping mask

Step 4

Create a narrower copy of the leaf we just made.

mesh leaf

Step 5

Create one more modified version of the original with Effect > Warp > Arc. Use a 14% Bend, and Expand Appearance of the result.


Step 6

Add one more version with Effect > Warp > Arch. Use -31% Bend, -22% Horizontal, and 13% Vertical Distortion.

warp effect

Step 7

Add a final version with Effect > Warp > Bulge and these settings:

  • Bend: 12%
  • Horizontal Distortion: -9%
  • Vertical Distortion: 1%
warp effects tutorial adobe illustrator

Step 8

Draw a narrow branch, colored with #CB1100. Use Stroke, just like in Step 2.

vector branch

Step 9

Place the corresponding leaves on the branch.

branch with mesh leaves

Step 10

Recolor the original red leaf with Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Colors. Use:

  • Red: -7%
  • Green: 19%
  • Blue: -21%
edit colors

Step 11

Add a version using Effect > Warp > Bulge. Use these settings:

  • Bend: 22%
  • Horizontal Distortion: -25%
  • Vertical Distortion: 0%
bulge warp effect

Step 12

Add one more brown leaf with Effect > Warp > Arc. Use these parameters:

  • Bend: -21%
  • Horizontal Distortion: -11%
  • Vertical Distortion: 1%

Don't forget to Expand Appearance.

arc warp effect

Step 13

Add a brown, #AA4500 branch.

stroke profile

Step 14

Place the new leaves on the branch.

brown mesh leaves

Step 15

To add more leaves, consult some of my other tutorials!

mesh arrangement thanksgiving

3. How to Add the Background

Step 1

Draw a #EDDCAF card, adding a #E0C9A0 border to it.

greeting card

Step 2

Draw a Blend shadow! Use shapes filled with #684730 and #F8F6F5.

Place the smaller shape inside the bigger shape, and then make the bigger one completely transparent. Proceed to Object > Blend > Blend Options, choosing Specified Steps with a value of 30

Finally, select both shapes and use Object > Blend > Make to create a transparent shadow.

blend shadow

Step 3

Place the shadow behind the card.

blend shadow

Step 4

Draw the paper background with mesh. Use #E7D6B8, then #F9F4EB.

paper mesh

Step 5

Place all the elements on the background!

finished thanksgiving background

Awesome Work, You're Now Done!

What now? You can try any of my other tutorials from my profile, or check out my portfolio on GraphicRiver, as well as the original vector we recreated in this tutorial.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and I would be super happy to see any results in the comments below!

Happy Thanksgiving Background
Happy Thanksgiving Background

Check out some of my other tutorials!

Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.