Illustrator Tutorial: Create a Bouquet of Peonies

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flower-illustrator-tutorial

By Bao Nguyen

In this tutorial, you will learn how to draw a bouquet of peonies in Adobe Illustrator. The Pen tool and the Pencil tool are tools that need patience, and a lot of practice until you really master them. You will practice drawing with these tools to create petals, leaves, tendrils… By the end of the tutorial, you will have the skills to draw other flowers in future projects. Let’s start!

Create a New document

Launch Illustrator and then press (Ctrl + N) to create a New document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 1030 in the width box and 590 in the height box then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Create the First Peony Flower

2. Pick the Pencil Tool (N) and create a black object like you see in the first image. Once your object is drawn, remove its stroke and then fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the second image. Keep the resulting shape selected and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Still having the copy selected, swap the fill and stroke colors by clicking the bent double-headed arrow next to the Fill and Stroke color swatches in the Toolbox. Replace the existing stroke color of the resulting object with white (# fdfbf4) and change the stroke weight to 3px. Make sure that the white object is still selected and open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Focus on the Profile section, open the drop-down menu and select the Width Profile 5. Focus on the fourth image, select the two anchor points highlighted with blue and click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties This make the white object becomes two paths. Select and remove the lower path. Now select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created in this step. We are done with the peony petal for the moment.

3. With the help of the Pencil Tool (N) and the Gradient Tool (G), create two shapes like you see in the images below. Once your shapes are drawn, reselect the smaller shape and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Still having the copy selected, swap the fill and stroke colors by clicking the bent double-headed arrow next to the Fill and Stroke color swatches in the Toolbox. Replace the existing stroke color of the resulting object with white (# fdfbf4) and change the stroke weight to 2px. Then apply the Width Profile 5 for the resulting object. Focus on the next to last image, select two anchor points highlighted with blue and click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties This make the white object becomes two paths. Select and remove the lower path. Now select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created in this step. The second peony petal is done!

4. Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw more petals.

5. Continue to draw more petals until you have something like this. Also you can see them all in the final image.

6. We will continue with the bigger petals. Pick the Pencil Tool (N) and create two objects like you see in the first and the second image. Once your objects are drawn, reselect the bigger object and remove its stroke, then fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the third image. Continue select the remaining object, remove its stroke and fill this object with very pale red (# ffcfc2). Next, repeat the same process as the step 3 to draw a white path like you see in the next to last image. Finally select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created in this step, then send the newly created group to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

7. Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw more petals.

8. Next, follow the sequence of images and draw some remaining petals similar to the ones from below. You should end up with something like in the last image. Now reselect and group (Ctrl +G) all petals created from beginning step 2 to this time. Here we have the first peony flower ready.

Create the Second Peony Flower

9. With the help of the Pencil Tool (N) and the Gradient Tool (G), create three shapes like you see in the images below. Next focus on the seventh and the eighth image, create a pale red shape using the Pen Tool (P). Once your shape is drawn, hide it behind three first shapes created in this step. Continue with the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create two shapes as shown in the last four images.

10. Select the first shape created in the step 9 and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Still having the copy selected, swap the fill and stroke colors by clicking the bent double-headed arrow next to the Fill and Stroke color swatches in the Toolbox. Replace the existing stroke color of the resulting object with white (# fff7f3) and change the stroke weight to 2px. Make sure that the white object is still selected and open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Focus on the Profile section, open the drop-down menu and select the Width Profile 1. Focus on the second image, select the two anchor points highlighted with blue and click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties This make the white object becomes two paths. Select and remove the lower path. Likewise, repeat the same process to add white paths on the remaining petals created in the step 9.

11. Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw more petals.

12. We will continue with the bigger petals. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create two objects like you see in the first and the second image. Once your objects are drawn, remove their strokes, then fill these objects with the radial gradient as shown in the third and the fourth image. Focus on the fifth and the sixth image, create two very pale red shapes (# ffdee1) using the Pen Tool (P). Next create two white paths like you see in the last two images.

13. With the help of the Pencil Tool (N), create two objects like you see in the first and the second image. Once your objects are drawn, reselect them and send these objects to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket). Next, follow the sequence of images and draw some remaining petals similar to the ones from below. You should end up with something like in the last image. Now reselect and group (Ctrl +G) all petals created from beginning step 9 to this time. We are done with the second peony flower for the moment.

14. Select the peony flower created in the step 13 and go to the Object > Transform > Transform Each… Enter a 83% in the Horizontal box, 83% in the Vertical Then check the Reflect X and click Copy. We are done with the peonies for the moment. You can arrange these flowers the way you want by aligning and rotating them in various ways. Finally reselect the two smaller peonies and send them to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

15. To give a more realistic look I’m going to be adding some shadows on some key places. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a black object like you see in the first image. Once your object is drawn, remove its stroke and fill this object with black (# 000000). Still having the resulting shape selected and go to the Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Enter an 8px Radius and click OK. Keep the resulting shape selected and open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Then change the Blending Mode to Overlay and reduce its Opacity to 50%. Finally send the resulting shape to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

16. With the help of the Pen Tool (P), create two blue objects like you see in the first image. Once your objects are drawn, remove their strokes and fill these objects with black (# 000000). Apply a 6px Gaussian Blur effect for the resulting shapes, then change the Blending Mode to Overlay and reduce their Opacity to 50%. Finally send the resulting shapes to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

Create the Green Leaves

17. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a shape like you see in the first and the second image. Make sure that the newly created shape is still selected and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F). Keep this copy selected and replace the existing fill color with new linear gradient as shown in the third image. Still having the resulting shape selected and go to the Effect > Artistic > Sponge… Follow the data as shown in the fourth image and click OK. Having the resulting shape selected and go to the Effect > Stylize > Feather… Enter a 5px Radius and click OK. Next change the Opacity of the resulting shape to 70%.

18. Next come the veins of the leaf. With the Pencil Tool (N), create some curved paths like you see in the first and the second image. Once your objects are drawn, reselect the black path and change the stroke weight to 6px. Next change the stroke weight of the red paths to 3px. Continue select the blue paths and change the stroke weight to 2px. Now select all paths created in this step and replace the existing stroke color with dark lime green (# 6c9170). Then apply the Width Profile 4 and a 2px Feather effect for the resulting paths. Finally select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created from beginning step 17 to this time. The first leaf is done!

19. Continue to draw more leaves until you have something like in the first image. Next you can arrange four newly created leaves the way you want by aligning and rotating them in various ways. Finally send these leaves to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

Create the Cyan Leaves

20. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a cyan shape like you see in the first and the second image. Once your shape is drawn, reselect it and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of this shape. Next pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), click on the right handle of the upper anchor point of the newly created shape. Then hold mouse and drag it to the left. Continue click on the right handle of the lower anchor point, hold mouse and drag it to the left. Next reselect the newly created shape and replace the existing fill color with new linear gradient as shown in the fourth image. Keep the resulting shape selected and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Having this copy selected, swap the fill and stroke colors by clicking the bent double-headed arrow next to the Fill and Stroke color swatches in the Toolbox. Change the stroke weight of the resulting object to 3px and replace the existing stroke color with very pale blue (# dae1ff). Next apply the Width Profile 5 for the resulting object. Focus on the next to last image, select the two anchor points highlighted with red. Then click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties This make the object becomes two paths. Select and remove the left path. Now reselect and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created in this step. The cyan leaf is done!

21. Likewise, repeat the same process as the step 20 to draw more leaves. You should end up with something like in the first image below. Now rotate the cyan leaves and then place them to the positions like you see in the second image. Finally send these leaves to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

22. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create two shapes like you see in the images below. Once your shapes are drawn, rotate them and then place these shapes to the positions as shown in the fifth image. Finally send these shapes to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

Create the Weak Stems

23. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create two curved paths like you see in the first image. Once your paths are drawn, reselect them and replace the existing stroke colors with the linear gradient across stroke. Change the stroke weight of the resulting paths to 5px and then apply the Width Profile 5 for them. Next select the shorter path and change the stroke weight to 2px. Now reselect and group (Ctrl +G) two paths created in this step. We are done with the stem for the moment.

24. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) or the Pencil Tool (N), create four curved paths like you see in the first image. Once your paths are drawn, change the stroke weights of them as shown in the second image. Next select the four paths created in this step and apply the Width Profile 5 for them. Now focus on the next to last image, reselect the black, the green and the magenta path, then replace the existing stroke colors with the linear gradient across stroke. Continue select the red path and replace the existing stroke color with the linear gradient across stroke as shown in the last image. Finally select and group (Ctrl +G) all paths created in this step. The second stem is done!

25. Continue to draw more weak stems until you have something like in the first image. Next place these stems to the positions as shown in the second image. Finally hide them behind the peonies.

Create the Tendrils

26. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a yellow curved path like you see in the first image. Once your path is drawn, change the stroke weight to 5px and replace the existing stroke color with the linear gradient as shown in the second image. Then apply the Width Profile 6 for the resulting path. Still having this path selected and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then change the stroke weight of the copy to 11px. Keep the resulting path selected and open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Check the Dashed Line box, enter 3px in the dash box and 20px in the gap Next replace the existing stroke color of the resulting path with new linear gradient as shown in the last image. Now reselect the two paths created in this step and press (Ctrl +G) to group them. The first tendril is done!

27. Likewise, repeat the same process as the step 26 to draw more tendrils. You should end up with something like in the first image below. Now rotate the tendrils and place them to the positions like you see in the second image. Next send these tendrils to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket). Now reselect and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created from beginning step 2 to this time. We are done with the bouquet of peonies for the moment.

Create the Background

28. We’re done with the bouquet of peonies. It’s time for the background now. With the help of the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1030 by 585px white rectangle. The last thing to do is place the bouquet of peonies into the newly created background.

Here is what the completed design looks like.

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