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  1. Design & Illustration
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Design

Quick Tip: How to Create an Illustration of Pussy Willow With a Chick in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In today’s quick tutorial you will learn how to create a pussy willow and chick illustration. We will basically create one branch and then turn it into many. We will then make three compositions using these branches. At the end, we will cheer up our illustration by creating a little chick. 

This is a quick and easy illustration that is perfect for beginners. To create this image, we will be using basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator and deforming them to create a cute illustration.

To remind yourself how the real willow catkins look, be sure to check out Envato Market.

Whenever you're ready, let's go!

1. How to Create the Pussy Willow 

Step 1

After opening Adobe Illustrator, create a new document with 850 x 850 px Width and Height

Let’s start with the catkin of the willow. Set the fill color as you see in the image below. Now take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a grey ellipse. Then we will transform this ellipse by going to Effect > Distort and Transform > Roughen. You can play with the options for the rough effect (Size and Detail) to get a result close to the one shown below or whatever you like. Expand this shape (Object > Expand Appearance).

Now create a copy of the rough ellipse in the front (Control-C, Control-F) and shift it to the upper left side. In the image below, the black stroke color of these ellipses is used only for better visibility. 

Next, create another copy of the first ellipse in front (Control-C, Control-F) and, while keeping this copy and the shifted one selected, press the Minus Front button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). This action leaves us with a new crescent shape. Change the color of the crescent shape to a darker grey.

After this, add a light colored ellipse on the top left side to show the volume of the catkin. To finish the catkin, add small yellowish circles of different sizes all over it. It is better to group the whole catkin now, as it will be easier to move it later (right-click > Group).

how to create the willow catkin

Step 2

Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a thin, vertical rounded rectangle for the stem. Place the catkins on both sides of the stem. Rotate and change the size of some catkins to get a result similar to the image shown below. Do not place each catkin evenly, but place them more randomly.

how to create the branch

Step 3

To make the stem look more realistic and not so perfectly straight, we will roughen its surface by using the Warp Tool. Double-click on the Warp Tool (Shift-R) and enter Width and Height dimensions for the brush of around 20-30 px, Intensity 100% and hit OK. Place the rounded rectangle in front the catkins (Control-C, Control-F), and select it before you use the Warp Tool (Shift-R), otherwise you will affect the other objects surrounding it.

Move your mouse over the stem (as shown in the image) to create the part where the catkin sits on a branch.

In a similar way, create another stem, which should be smaller and should have a different number of catkins. Group each stem (right-click > Group). Later in this tutorial we will combine them in different ways, so it's important to have at least two different stems.

making the branch more natural

Step 4

In this step we will create a set of stems, which will be used for the three different compositions. Therefore make a few copies of the large and small stems and combine them.

First, we will select one stem and warp it. Go to Effect > Warp > Arc. For your convenience, select Preview while adjusting the options to get a result you like. In the new dialogue window, select Vertical, Bend -20%, Distortion Horizontal 0%, Vertical 0%, and hit OK. Do the same warping process for each branch, just by varying the Bend percentage.

Expand each branch (Object > Expand Appearance).

how to create the different branches

2. How to Create the Compositions of Pussy Willow

Step 1

First, let's create our first composition. Draw a blue circle (use the Ellipse Tool (L) while holding down the Shift key for an even circle).

Add a set of willow branches on the left side of the circle. Now select all of the stems, right-click the mouse, and select Transform > Reflect. This will bring up the Reflect dialogue window, where you should enter Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move the copy of the newly created stems to the right. You'll end up with a composition similar to the one shown below.

how to create the first composition

Step 2

Now we will create our second composition.

Make another copy of the blue circle created in the previous step, and place a set of pussy willows on the circle as shown in the image below. Notice that the willow is overlapping the sides of the circle.

Next, select the circle and make a copy of it in front of the willows (Control-C, Control-F), cut it off (Control-X), and place it in front of everything (Control-F). To be able to see the willows under the circle, we will remove its fill color and add a black stroke color.

Now, as we want to make the top part of the willows visible, we have to distort the top circle so as to be able to cover the willow on top. Move the handles of the anchor points of this circle by using the Direct Selection Tool (A) to achieve the result you need. You want to place the black stroke color inside the top part of the willow.

After that, select the willow and the front shape, and then go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). This action will cut the part of the willow beyond the blue circle.

how to create the second composition

Step 3

For the third composition, create a copy of the blue circle again. Place the willow branches around the circle to have a wreath look as shown below.

how to create the third composition

Step 4

Place all three compositions together.

three compositions together

3. How to Create the Chick

Step 1

We will start by drawing the head of the chick. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw an oval. In the image below, you can see which fill color you need. Then go to Effect > Warp > Inflate to shape the head. Enter the options you see below.

For the eyes, create a brown ellipse and add a tiny white circle to brighten up the eye. Place this eye on the left side of the head. While keeping the eye selected, take the Reflect Tool (O). Hold down the Alt key and click in the middle of the head. In the new dialogue window, select Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. You should now have two eyes.

how to create the chicks head

Step 2

Let’s add the chick’s beak. In the middle of the head, add a pink oval and modify it with a warp effect: go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. Select the required options and expand the shape.

Next, select the pink shape, and create a copy behind it (Control-C, Control-B). Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom anchor point of the upper copy. Then move this anchor point a little bit upward.

Change the fill color of the bottom copy to a darker color. The beak of our chick is ready!

how to create the chicks beak

Step 3

For the chick’s body, add an ellipse below the head and distort it with the warp effect: Effect > Warp > Inflate. After adjusting the options as shown, expand the resulting shape.

how to create the chicks body

Step 4

In this step, we will create the chick’s wing. Start with an ellipse and modify it with the Arc effect (Effect > Warp > Arc). Enter the options shown below. Expand the shape.

Next, add four ellipses that should be slightly rotated to the right, and place them over the deformed ellipse. For better visibility, I added a black stroke color which should not be present in the final image. In the end, group the whole wing (right-click > Group).

how to create the chicks wing

Step 5

Put the wing on the left side of the chick’s body. Then make a vertically reflected copy of this wing to get another one. To do so, while keeping the wing selected, right-click your mouse and select Transform > Reflect. Once you get the dialogue box, select Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move the new wing to the right.

how to create another wing

Step 6

To create the chick’s leg, start with a pink ellipse. Next, use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the left and right anchor points and move them up.

Then, create a copy of the shape, place it on the left side, and rotate it to the left. Make another copy and rotate it to the right to get the three toes of the chick’s leg.

Finally, add a fourth copy of the shape, make it smaller, and place it as the fourth toe.

how to create the chicks fingers

Step 7

Below the chick’s body, add two circles to start creating the legs. Place the foot (which should be grouped together) below the chicken, and slightly rotate it to the left as shown below.

Next, we will add chick’s leg. First, we will delete the fill color and set the stroke color. To do so, hit the double arrow Swap Fill and Stroke (Shift X) in the Tools panel. You should now have the same pink fill color as you had for the toes. Increase the stroke Weight and check Round Cap on the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Now, create an arc which will connect the two legs (you should rotate the arc) and place it behind the chick’s body. Move the handles of the arc by using the Direct Selection Tool (A) until you get the necessary result.

Make a vertical copy of the chick’s toes and attach them to the right leg.

how to create the chicks legs

Step 8

Place the chick in the middle of the two compositions, as shown below.

placing the chicks

4. How to Create the Background

Step 1

Create a blue square with Width and Height of 850 px, send it to the back (Control-X, Control-B), and center it to the artboard. For the alignment, select this square and on the Align panel (Window > Align) from the pop-up menu, choose Align to: Align to Artboard, and hit the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons.

how to create the background

Step 2

Arrange the created compositions on the background to get the complete image.

placing the compositions with chicks on the background

Conclusion

Good job! I hope you had fun creating these cute compositions. To make them brighter, you can add some bows. If you want to know how to create such a bow, you can follow the instructions from one of my previous tutorials. You can also add other details if you wish. Just be creative and enjoy the process! See you again in my next tutorial!

final
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