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.
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.
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.
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.
Group both shapes, select the group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform…, then set the parameters shown below.
Go to Effect > Warp > Arc… and set the parameters shown in the picture below.
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).
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.
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.
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.
As a result of these actions, we will get the flower shown in the picture below.
Continue the transformation: select the whole flower, then go to Effect > Warp > Shell Lower…. The effect parameters are shown in the picture below.
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.
Now reselect the ellipse again to continue the tutorial.
Now create a flower pot. Begin by drawing a brown rectangle (R = 148, G = 97, B = 52) with the Dynamic Shapes Tool.
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.
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.
Group up three rectangles and apply the Bulge effect to the group (Effect > Warp > Bulge …).
Create two rectangles at the top of the pot using the technique described above. Now the first cactus is ready.
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.
Replace cactus colors: light green (R = 124, G = 172, B = 66) and dark green color (R = 87, G = 148, B = 12).
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).
Keeping the group selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag … and set the parameters shown in the picture below.
Now create spines on the cactus. Draw the seven-pointed yellow star (R = 255, G = 255, B = 173) with the Dynamic Shapes Tool.
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.
Place spine copies on the surface of the 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.
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.
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.
Group up both shapes, then apply two Transform effects (Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform …) to the group.
The spines on this cactus will be created using a yellow five-pointed dynamic star, to which the Pucker & Bloat effect is applied.
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 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.
Apply the Transform effect to the bottom fill, changing the scale and angle.
Create a red circle (R = 242, G = 102, B = 102) in the center of the flower.
Create the fourth cactus. Draw a green rounded rectangle (R = 124, G = 172, B = 66)
With the duplicate of this form, create a dark green shadow (R = 87, G = 148, B = 12).
Apply the stroke to the lower shape, the parameters of which are shown below.
Group up both shapes and apply the Arc effect to the group.
Duplicate the group and replace the new group’s Arc effect with the Rise effect. Remember to use the appearance panel.
Similarly, create another stalk of the plant.
Thus, we have created four cacti.
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.
Now create a blue sky (R = 209, G = 249, B = 249) and house silhouettes (R = 173, G = 237, B = 237).
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).
Draw a few inclined lines with a stroke of white color and of different widths.
Decrease the opacity of these lines up to 50% and hide the protruding parts with the help of the clipping mask.
Now we just need to place the cacti on the window sill. That's all, the tutorial is over.
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