In this simple tutorial, you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool in Adobe Illustrator to create a bunch of autumn leaves!
1. How to Draw a Leaf
Let’s begin by drawing a red leaf with Gradient Mesh.
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
Next, add a thin colored line by adding more mesh nodes and coloring the selected middle row with
Continue by coloring the nodes that are selected in each part of the screenshot. You will need these colors:
Continue similarly—look for the selected nodes and color them!
You will need these colors:
Let’s draw the left part of the leaf in the same fashion! Use these colors:
Grab both parts of the leaf and align them together. This creates Leaf 1.
To create Leaf 2, simply create a vertically reflected copy of Leaf 1 (Object > Transform > Reflect).
For Leaf 3, grab a copy of Leaf 2 and modify its left side by bringing in its edges a bit.
Put Leaf 1 and 2 together, as indicated below.
Finally, add Leaf 3!
2. How to Draw the Stem
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 5×4 Mesh Grid to it.
Color the second from the top row with
#F79487 and the fourth from the top with
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:
Continue on the right side of the step in a similar fashion. Use these colors:
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
Finally, change the right edge’s Opacity to 0%.
Attach the stem to the leaf!
3. How to Recolor the Leaves
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.
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%
Make a copy of the yellow leaf and turn it orange with the following settings:
- Red: -5%
- Green: -12%
- Blue: 0%
4. How to Create the Background
For this final part, draw a background by simply adding a colored Mesh node (
#FFA83F) to a white rectangle.
Now create a shadow for the leaves! Draw an ellipse with a Radial gradient (
#CAA27C to white) and change its Transparency mode to Multiply.
Add a cluster of these ellipses to create a shadow under the orange leaf.
Similarly, apply the shadows to the yellow leaf and place it on top of the orange one.
Finally, add the red leaf with its own shadows.
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.
Turn the Opacity of both shapes down to 60% and change their Transparency mode to Overlay.
Create some copies of the highlight like so:
And place them on top of the leaves!
Put the background we made in Step 1 under the leaves.
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!
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.
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.