Illustrator How-To: Create Surreal Flowers

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With the help of Adobe Illustrator, creating colorful, magical flowers has never been easier. Why waste time and money searching for and buying floral clip art when you can make it yourself? In this article, we'll go over how to create basic floral shapes, leaves, and vines, so let's get started.

Step 1: Set up your document. To begin, launch Illustrator and open a new CMYK or RGB document, whichever you prefer. Then, choose Swatch Libraries from the Window menu and add the following libraries: Earthtones_1, Harmonies_1, and Pastels, as shown in Figure 1. This provides you with basic color schemes from which to choose.

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Figure 1

Step 2: Set your spirals. Go to the Toolbox and select the Spiral tool, as demonstrated in Figure 2. Now, using the tool, draw a small spiral on your document, as displayed in Figure 3. Next, go to the Stroke palette and change the spiral's Weight from 1 to 3. Once you've done that, go to one of the Swatches palettes that you opened and select a color for your base stroke. For our example, we went to the Earthtones_1 palette and selected a rich red.

Note: Make sure that your Fill Color is set to none so that your selected stroke colors blend together successfully.

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Figure 2

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Figure 3

Now, create another spiral, but this time, make it a bit larger. Place the spiral so that it overlaps your original a bit, as shown in Figure 4. Then, select a different color for the Stroke from the same color palette.

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Figure 4

Step 3: Fill it in. To fill in the flower with color, select the Blend tool from the Toolbox, as shown in Figure 5. Then, click on the small spiral first and the larger spiral second. This automatically fills in the area between each spiral with a gradient blend, creating a flower as shown in Figure 6.

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Figure 5

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Figure 6

Step 4: Set your arcs. Next, we'll create leaves. To do so, select the Arc tool from the Toolbox. Then, draw one Arc dragging the mouse in an upward motion toward the left of the document. Set the Stroke color to a shade of green. Next, create another arc, but this time drag the mouse down and to the right making the leaf shape shown in Figure 7. Set the Stroke color of this arc to a lighter green or yellow.

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Figure 7

Step 5: Blend your arcs. Select the Blend tool from the Toolbox. Click on each arc that you created to fill in your shape, as shown in Figure 8.

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Figure 8

Step 6: Put it all together. Make a few copies of your leaf and begin positioning them around the flower. Then, using the Free Transform tool, rotate and resize the leaves, as shown in Figure 9. Select each leaf by using the Selection tool while holding down the [shift] key, and then choose Object > Arrange > Send To Back. Your flower should now resemble that shown in Figure 10.

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Figure 9

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Figure 10

Step 7: Add vines.
To finish up your illustration, you can add in a few green spirals, as shown in Figure 11, to create vines. If you want more control over how your vines look, use the Pencil tool to create them. Then, just smooth out the stroke a bit and your flower is done.

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Figure 11

This story was taken from the now-defunct"The Design Authority" (Element K Journals).

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