How to Create Vector Cacti in a Flat Style with VectorScribe

Today you will learn how to create a vector cacti in a flat style with the help of the Dynamic Shapes tool which is part of VectorScribe. This tool allows you to quickly create shadows on objects and modify ready-made elements. The combination of Dynamic Shapes and native Illustrator effects makes it possible to transform one kind of cactus into another, by managing only the parameters in the dialog windows and the Dynamic Shapes panel.

Note: Please be aware that some preferences were changed.  For example, the default value for the angle (for slicing) in Dynamic Shapes tool is “degrees”, not “percentages”.

The below screenshot shows how to change the preferences.


Step 1

We will create cacti using the Dynamic Shapes of VectorScribe. Using this tool enables us to quickly rebuild the shapes in the future, obtaining new plant species. Take the Dynamic Shapes Tool, then select Dynamic Ellipse in the Dynamic Shapes and draw a green ellipse (R = 142, G = 175, B = 6) with the parameters shown in the picture below.

Dynamic ellipse


Duplicate the ellipse (Cmd / Ctrl + C, Cmd / Ctrl + F) and recolor the new object into a dark green color (R = 98, G = 143, B = 0). Set 50% (or 180 degree depending on your preferences) at the end of the sliced shape in the panel. Thus, we get a shadow specific to a flat style.

Duplicate ellipse



Step 2

Add a stroke to the bottom object of the same color as the fill. The parameters for this stroke are shown in the picture below.

Now add a stroke with the same parameters to the upper object. The fill and stroke colors of the upper object also match.

Add stroke to upper object


Step 3

Group both shapes, select the group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform…, then set the parameters shown below.

Transform effect as parameters

Go to Effect > Warp > Arc… and set the parameters shown in the picture below.

Warp effect as parameters


Step 4

Now let's start creating a flower on the cactus. Using the Dynamic Shapes Tool, create a pink ellipse (R = 255, G = 135, B = 135).

Create flower on cactus

Open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and create two new fills for this shape. Apply a light pink color (R = 255, G = 168, B = 168) to the upper fill and a light red color (R = 255, G = 107, B = 107) to the lower fill.

Create two new fills


Step 5

Select the upper fill in the Appearance panel, then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform…, set 32 degrees angle relatively to the lower reference point.

Transform upper fill

Select the lower fill in the Appearance panel, then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform…, set -32 degrees angle relatively to the lower Reference point.

Transform lower fill

As a result of these actions, we will get the flower shown in the picture below.

Flower created from actions

Continue the transformation: select the whole flower, then go to Effect > Warp > Shell Lower…. The effect parameters are shown in the picture below.

Effect parameters


See how quickly we can transform a flower due to the fact that we used Dynamic Shapes. Now simply select the Dynamic Star and increase the number of points in the Dynamic Shapes panel.

Increase number of points on star


Now reselect the ellipse again to continue the tutorial.


Step 6

Now create a flower pot. Begin by drawing a brown rectangle (R = 148, G = 97, B = 52) with the Dynamic Shapes Tool.

Create flower pot rectangle

Duplicate this shape to the top and replace the color with a darker shade of brown color (R = 135, G = 84, B = 39). Set a 180 degree Angle at the end of the sliced shape in the panel to get a shadow.

Set angle of duplicate rectangle

Create a new light brown dynamic rectangle (R = 217, G = 194, B = 174). Reduce its height relating to the upper reference point and apply a Multiply blending mode.

Apply multiply blending mode



Step 7

Group up three rectangles and apply the Bulge effect to the group (Effect > Warp > Bulge …).

Apply bulge effect

Create two rectangles at the top of the pot using the technique described above. Now the first cactus is ready.

First cactus ready



Step 8

To create another kind of cactus, we do not need to create all the shapes again. Duplicate the finished plant and proceed to the transformation of the shapes. Remove the flower and stroke with the cactus object.

Duplicate finished plant

Replace cactus colors: light green (R = 124, G = 172, B = 66) and dark green color (R = 87, G = 148, B = 12).

Replace cactus colors

Change the shape of the cactus by changing the Arc effect settings for the group, as shown below (to open the dialog window, click on the effect name in the Appearance panel).

Change Arc effect


Keeping the group selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag … and set the parameters shown in the picture below.

Transform group as parameters



Step 9

Now create spines on the cactus. Draw the seven-pointed yellow star (R = 255, G = 255, B = 173) with the Dynamic Shapes Tool.

Draw seven pointed star

Sequentially apply to the star the Arc Upper (Effect > Warp > Arc Upper …) and Pucker & Bloat (Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat…) effects, the parameters of which are shown in the pictures below.

Apply Arc upper effect to star

Apply Pucker & Bloat effect

Place spine copies on the surface of the cactus.

Place spines on cactus

In order to change the shape of the pot, you only need to change the parameters of the Bulge effect of the group to which it was applied.

Change parameters of bulge effect

This is the way that we will change the shape of the pots of other plants in the future. Copy the pot for the next cactus.


Step 10

Proceed to creation of the third cactus. Draw an ellipse and shadow it using the Dynamic Shapes Tool, just like we did before. Here is a light green color: R = 115, G = 191, B = 103; dark green color: R = 64, G = 137, B = 55.

Create third cactus

Group up both shapes, then apply two Transform effects (Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform …) to the group.

Transform effect 1 to group

Transform effect 2 to group

Transformed cactus

The spines on this cactus will be created using a yellow five-pointed dynamic star, to which the Pucker & Bloat effect is applied.

Apply Pucker & Bloat to five pointed star


Step 11

The flower on this cactus will be created using the Dynamic Gear, the parameters of this shape are shown in the picture below. Fill color: R = 255, G = 204, B = 204.

Create flower using dynamic gear

Create another fill for this shape in the Appearance panel. Set another color for this fill: R = 255, G = 130, B = 130 and place below the first one.

Create fill for shape

Apply the Transform effect to the bottom fill, changing the scale and angle.

Apply Transform effect to bottom fill

Create a red circle (R = 242, G = 102, B = 102) in the center of the flower.

Create red circle in flower


Step 12

Create the fourth cactus. Draw a green rounded rectangle (R = 124, G = 172, B = 66)

Create fourth cactus


With the duplicate of this form, create a dark green shadow (R = 87, G = 148, B = 12).

Duplicate form for shadow


Apply the stroke to the lower shape, the parameters of which are shown below.

Apply stroke to lower shape


Group up both shapes and apply the Arc effect to the group.

Apply Arc effect to group


Duplicate the group and replace the new group’s Arc effect with the Rise effect. Remember to use the appearance panel.

Replace Arc effect with Rise effect


Similarly, create another stalk of the plant.

Create another plant stalk


Thus, we have created four cacti.

Four cacti



Step 13

Now create a simple interior. With the help of the rectangles, draw a light beige wall (R = 232, G = 226, B = 214), a white window and window sill.

Create simple interior


Now create a blue sky (R = 209, G = 249, B = 249) and house silhouettes (R = 173, G = 237, B = 237).

Create sky and house silhouettes

Using the duplicates of existing shapes, create shadows from the window frame and sill (colors of shadows: R = 232, G = 226, B = 214; Multiply blending mode).

Duplicate shapes and create shadows


Draw a few inclined lines with a stroke of white color and of different widths.

Draw inclined lines


Decrease the opacity of these lines up to 50% and hide the protruding parts with the help of the clipping mask.

Decrease opacity up to 50%


Now we just need to place the cacti on the window sill. That's all, the tutorial is over.

Place cacti on windowsill


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