Create a Fall Themed Illustration

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Fall colors are always vibrant and inspiring. This time of the year is filled with a certain kind of magic which boosts our creativity. So why not use this to create a Fall themed illustration? We'll also use some techniques that give the illustration a nostalgic vintage feel. Let’s get to it!

1. Create a new document

Create a new document and use 1200 pixels as a width value and 840 pixels as a height value. This landscape oriented artboard will allow us to divide the space into two parts.

2. Sketch

For this task we'll do a sketch divided into 3 parts. The first one will be the largest and it includes a drawing of an acorn, a mushroom, a butternut squash and a couple of leaves. On the opposite side, we’ll divide the space into 2 parts which will include a friendly cloud and an umbrella. We won’t be tracing the sketch – we'll just follow the idea we created. Having a sketch is essential in the creative process; it takes us closer to the idea we had in our mind.

3. Create a color palette

For this task we'll use 5 colors. One dark – deep magenta (#2f1026) and a few lighter ones: light red (#c74551), orange (#fa8434), yellow (#ffca30) and light blue (#c7e9f4). The warm tones are a perfect example of a nice autumn palette, balanced with one dark and one light color.

4. Recreate the sketch

We won’t be tracing the sketch – we'll try to recreate it instead. For this task we'll mostly use the Pen Tool (P). The beginners might need some time to get used to it but it’s worth the wait because once you can use it skillfully, you can create amazing vector art.

Step 1

We’ll start with the first object – the acorn. Use the Pen Tool (P) to recreate the object from the sketch. Make a rough path so the lines get sharper curves. This way the object will look like a cut out paper. First start with the bigger objects and then do the smaller ones. Color it in orange (#fa8434), yellow (#ffca30) and light red (#c74551). Group (Control+G) the drawing.

Step 2

Create the mushroom by drawing the stem (1) and the cap first (2). Then add 5 dots to the cap and make sure they are in different sizes (3,4). Draw the smiley face over the stem (5) and color the mushroom. Use light blue (#c7e9f4) for the stem, light red (#c74551) for the cap, yellow (#ffca30) for the dots and deep magenta (#2f1026) for the face.

Step 3

The butternut squash is made out of two parts: body (2) and  stem (3). Draw them with rough lines and add 3 ribs over the body (4,5). Color the body in orange (#fa8434), the stem in light red (#c74551) and the ribs in yellow (#ffca30). Once you are done coloring, group (Control+G) the drawing.

Step 4

The bigger leaf is easier to draw – you'll just need to pay attention to the veins (3). Draw them as irregular rectangles over the leaf. Color the leaf in light red (#c74551), the stem in orange (#fa8434) and the veins in yellow (#ffca30).

Step 5

The second leaf is even simpler, made up of a yellow stem and orange leaf. Once you're done coloring, group (Control+G) the drawing.

Step 6

The cloud might take a little more time. Using the Pen Tool (P) draw a bubble-like formation (1). Try to make it less fluffy on the sides (2). Draw a smiley face on it (3) and color the cloud in light blue (#c7e9f4) and the face light red (#c74551).

Step 7

The umbrella is the last object we'll make. Start by drawing the canopy first (1,2). Then draw the handle (3) and the cap (4). Add two ribs over the canopy (5) and color the whole object. Use light red and deep magenta.

Step 7

Additionally, create around 8 drops. Make their edges rough and color them in yellow (ffca30). We're done creating the objects and we can move on to the next part – arranging them across the Artboard.

5. Arrange the objects

Step 1

We'll divide the Artboard into three parts, just like we did for the sketch. Using the Pen Tool (P), draw 3 irregular rectangles with rough edges. In order to achieve this, try so that rectangle has at least 6 anchor points. This way they'll look like paper cut-outs. Color them in deep magenta (ffca30), orange (#fa8434) and light blue (#c7e9f4).

Step 2

Start arranging the objects on the left part of the Artboard. Add the acorn, the leaves, the mushroom and the squash. Just remember; use the sketch as your guide. In between the objects, add 4 simple objects in a leaf shape and color them orange.

Step 3

On the left side, add the cloud and the umbrella. Feel free to resize the objects if you need to. Scatter the raindrops randomly over the umbrella.

Step 4

Select the rain drops and Group (Control+G) them. From the Transparency panel (Shift+Control+F10), choose the Multiply blending mode.

6. Add textures

Step 1

Over the existing rectangles, create new ones which will be slightly different to the first ones. Make them just a little bit bigger, with their edges slightly outside the edges of the background rectangles.

Step 2

Go to the Swatches Panel and open the drop down menu. From there go to Open Swatch Library>Patterns>Basic Graphics> Basic Graphics_Dots. From the Basic Graphics_Dots panel, choose the one labeled as 10dpi 30% (2). The rectangles will be filled with a dotted pattern.

Step 3

Select the patterned shapes and send them back (Control+[) to the background rectangles.

Step 4

We'll need some kind of border around the objects. In this area, the pattern will be cut out in the shape of the objects we created. To achieve this, select the objects from the left side of the Artboard and Group (Control+G) them. Then multiply them and use the Unite command from the Pathfinder’s panel to merge them into one formation. I colored the group in red, so it's easier for you to follow along.

Step 5

Go to Object>Paths>Offset Path and enter 10 pixels as an offset value. You'll see how the group will expand 10 pixels. Click OK to close the dialog box.

Step 6

To make sure your objects are united, create a Compound Path (Control+8). Now here comes the most important step – select both the grouped objects and the patterned rectangle and use the Minus Front command from the Pathfinder panel. You'll notice a fine border between the group and the patterned rectangle.

Step 7

Repeat the same steps for the cloud. Multiply the cloud and make an Offset Path (Object>Paths>Offset Path), using 10 pixels as an offset value.

Step 8

Select both the expanded cloud and the patterned rectangle and use the Minus Front command from the Pathfinder panel. You'll get a nice border around the cloud, without any dots in it.

Step 9

And again, Multiply the umbrella and make an Offset Path (Object>Paths>Offset Path), using 10 pixels as an offset value.

Step 10

Select both the expanded umbrella and the patterned rectangle and use the Minus Front command from the Pathfinder panel. The umbrella will get a dotless border around it. Leave the raindrops as they are.

Now take a moment to observe the illustration as it is. It looks great, especially the patterned parts over the background! Let’s add some finishing touches.

Step 11

Select the patterned parts on the right side of the Artboard. Open the Transparency panel and lower their opacity to 50%. We're doing this because the pattern is more visible over lighter colors. Now it looks more balanced.

Step 12

For the final step of this tutorial, we'll create a rectangle the same size as the Artboard (1200x840 pixels). Choose  a very light shade of yellow, let’s say #ffffea. From the Transparency panel, choose the Multiply blending mode. This way we'll get a yellowish tint over the illustration, giving an extra vintage feel to it.


Great job! We just created a cute and neat autumn themed illustration and by using some tricks we achieved a retro feeling. Although it has a vintage charm, these types of illustrations are also very trendy and they can be used in many fields – mostly in packaging design and greeting cards. Have a colorful autumn!

Now you can show the world what you have learned.

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