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How to: Create leaves in Adobe Illustrator

Hi, today you’ll be learning how to create leaves in Adobe Illustrator. To get started, you will need an Adobe Illustrator, and an image of a leaf. You can do this without an image of a leaf, but if you’re a beginner, it will be easier for you to start with an image.

Step 1: To begin with, create a new document (File > New…). Dimensions of our artboard are not significant, since we’ll create one vector element which you can use in different artworks in the future. 

We’ll start with the plant’s stem. If you want to use my colours, use #064E2F as a colour for the plant’s stem. Use a pencil tool (N) to get started. Draw a thin and irregular shape. Don’t worry if it looks “pixelized”. Illustrator will fix it and you will get sharp edges.

This is how I drew the plant’s stem – your’s can of course be totally different and that’s okay.

STEP 2: You will need to repeat the step 1, but with different shape and instead of a single colour, we will use a gradient to create the petiole so it can look more realistic.

Create an irregular shape with again, pencil tool as you did above. It could/should look like something below. After that, click on the item, open gradient tool and apply a gradient colour on it. To create a green gradient for all my petioles, I’ve used only 3 green colours. The first colour is #046938, the second green colour is #039447 and the third colour I’ve used is #046938.

The gradient angle is set at -162 degrees. Opacity and location are set to 100%. Type is “Linear gradient”.

This is how my leaf looks like after I’ve applied gradient to it.

STEP 3: You will now need add some other effects to petiole to make it look more realistic. For start, we will create 3 lines with colour #046938. I’ve used really really thin lines. After you have created those 3 or 4 lines (it doesn’t have to be 3) place them onto the petiole.

This is the final version of my petiole.

STEP 4: After you have finished with creating your petiole, copy and paste it multiple times. Be sure to change the size and angle of each so it can look better. Place them onto the stem and arrange them as you want.

This is how my plant looked like at the end of this tutorial.

STEP 5: Once you have placed all the petioles on the stem, your leaf should be good to go.

Final version of my leaf.

This leaf may not look perfect, but once you combine it with other leaves, add some background and some context – it should be amazing.

This is the final version of a project I was working on, in which I’ve used the leaf we’ve created today.

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1 Comment
  • Roby
    January 29, 2019

    I find this very helpful, great job!


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