Vector Spruce Twig

Spruce twigs can be created quite easily in vector, which will be demonstrated by following the techniques described in this tutorial. To create a twig, we will be using transformation effects, Appearance panel, and Dynamic Shapes which are created with the help of the VectorScribe plugin. The dynamic shapes will help us quickly create a twig and easily manage its view.

Method 1

Step 1

With the help of the Ellipse Tool (L) create an ellipse and fill it with radial gradient consisting of shades of green color.

Vector Spruce Twig

Open the Appearance palette (Window > Appearance) where future manipulations will be handled.

Keeping the ellipse selected, select Fill in the Appearance panel and go to Effect > Transform & Distort > Roughen and set the parameters indicated in the picture below.

Vector Spruce Twig

Set the Multiply Blending Mode for this fill in the same panel.

Vector Spruce Twig

Step 2

Press the Duplicate Selected Item button creating a new fill.

Vector Spruce Twig

Set the Normal Blending Mode for it.

Vector Spruce Twig

Now go to Effect > Distort & Transform… and set the transformation parameters in the dialog box adding needles to the twig.

Vector Spruce Twig

Step 3

Duplicate the upper fill.

Vector Spruce Twig

Set the Multiply Blending Mode for it and change the Transform effect parameters.

Vector Spruce Twig

Vector Spruce Twig

Of course, it is not necessary that you repeat my parameters, especially since they depend on the size of the ellipse created in the first step, but just follow the principle of working with the Appearance panel and the applied effects.

Step 4

Select the entire shape, open the Graphic Styles panel (Window > Graphic Styles) and save the new style.

Vector Spruce Twig

Now we do not need to repeat all the previous steps every time, but simply to apply the created style to ellipses of different shapes, instantly resulting in spruce twig effects!

Step 5

Spruce branches are usually located at different angles. With the use of the VectorScribe Dynamic Shapes Tool, it's possible to create a dynamic ellipse at any angle instantly. Take the Dynamic Shapes Tool, open the Dynamic Shapes panel (Window > VectorScribe > Dynamic Shapes), choose the Dynamic Ellipse in this panel and drag out an ellipse.

Note: VectorScribe v1.1 offers the choice to drag out new shapes defined by the bounding box extremities, as per Illustrator's native tools. This functionality may be toggled on/off by ticking or unticking "Define New Shapes by Bounding Box" via the Dynamic Shapes panel's fly-out menu, or by toggling this via the "S" keypress when dragging out a new shape.

Vector Spruce Twig

Vector Spruce Twig

To change the size and the ratio of the ellipse axes, take one of the corner points, click on the Cmd / Ctrl and drag controlling its shape.

Vector Spruce Twig

Now apply to the ellipse the style created in the previous step. The spruce twig result is ready.

Vector Spruce Twig

Method 2

Step 1

With the help of the Dynamic Shapes Tool, create a star consisting of 42 points, and fill it with radial gradient consisting of shades of green. This is a dynamic shape and you can manipulate its parameters, changing them in the Dynamic Shapes panel or by dragging its corner points.

Vector Spruce Twig

You can learn more how to manage the dynamic shapes by clicking on the following links Shortcuts for vectorscribe dynamic shapes.

Step 2

Keeping the dynamic star selected, go to Effect > Transform & Distort > Roughen and set the parameters shown in the figure below.

Vector Spruce Twig

Duplicate the resulting shape (drag up holding down the Opt / Alt). Rotate the shape at different angles, to add variety to spruce twig.

Vector Spruce Twig

I think it is necessary to increase the number of needles, making the spruce branch look fluffier. It is easy to do as we are working with dynamic shapes. Select all the created shapes and increase the amount of points of the dynamic stars in the Dynamic Shapes panel.

Vector Spruce Twig

Group up all the objects (Cmd / Ctrl + G) and the second spruce twig method is ready.

Vector Spruce Twig

Method 3

Step 1

In the third method we will be using VectorScribe and the Dynamic Shapes Tool, making further use of its dynamic attributes. So, take the Dynamic Shapes Tool and create a dynamic star.

Vector Spruce Twig

By moving the slice edges, change the dynamic star to the shape shown in the figure below.

Vector Spruce Twig

Vector Spruce Twig

Step 2

Now take the PathScribe Tool – another tool of the VectorScribe plugin, and bend the straight-line segments of the rays just by pulling their center to the side.

Vector Spruce Twig

Using the PathScribe Tool, we save time, because we do not have to convert corner points into smooth ones and manage their handles. This operation cannot be done with the Direct Selection Tool (A). So, working in this way, bring the shape to the view indicated in the figure below.

Vector Spruce Twig

Fill the shape with a linear gradient which consists of two shades of green.

Vector Spruce Twig

Keeping the shape selected, go to Object > Transform > Reflect and click on the Copy button in the dialog window.

Vector Spruce Twig

Fill the new shape with linear gradient which consists of the darker shades of green.

Step 3

Duplicating these shapes and using only two gradients, create a shape of blossom. The process of its creation is shown on the figures below.

Vector Spruce Twig

Vector Spruce Twig

Vector Spruce Twig

Group up all the created shapes (Cmd / Ctrl + G). Duplicate this group (Opt / Alt while dragging) and create a spruce twig.

Vector Spruce Twig

Conclusion

I used spruce branches created in the three methods for the same festive compositions below…

Vector Spruce Twig

Vector Spruce Twig

Vector Spruce Twig

You can choose the method that you like most. Have a happy holiday!

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