Graphic Design: Create a Nature Background

Intermediate level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator

Creating a new document

The first step is creating a New document on Illustrator (File > New) with the following values:

  • Dimensions: 1200x800 px
  • Color mode: RGB
  • Resolution: 72 ppi

Creating the background

Step 1

For the background, we can use a light coloured wood image for the background. I’ve used a Freepik image that you can find in the attachmetns section.


Step 2

The wooden background dimensions must be the same as the Artboard. So we'll change the dimensions to 1200x800 px. We'll select the our wood texture and change the dimensions on the panel above.


We'll select our background and align it with the Artboard. Let’s lock it so we don’t mess it up later (Object > Lock > Selection).


Designing the leaves

Step 1

We're going to do three different types of leaves. Let’s start with the first one.  Select the Paintbrush Tool and draw a 2px stroke line with an oval brush of 2pt. We'll expand the appearance of the stroke (Object > Expand Appearance).  


This is going to be the branch of the first floral design. Now we'll make the leaves. We'll select the Pen Tool and draw the leaf shapes. We'll fill with black and make sure that they don't have any stroke color.


Step 2

Now we'll colour our floral design. We're going to use 3 shades of green. We can fill 3 squares with each colour so we can color our design much more easily.


We'll fill it in with a simple Gradient mesh. Select the design and go to Object > Gradient Mesh and  we'll type in the following values:


This is what our design should look like:


Let’s begin with the branch. So that the leaves don’t disturb us we are going to lock them (Object > Lock > Selection). With the Direct Select Tool, we'll select the lower part of the branch. Grab the eyedropper Tool and click on the darkest of our samples. Select the rest of the branch with the Select Direction Tool, and again with the Eyedropper fill with the middle green.


Go to Object > Unlock to unlock all the leaves so we can color them. We'll lock the branch which is already colored. With the Direct Select Tool, we'll select the nearest points to the branch and click on the darkest sample with the Eyedropper. Now we'll select the middle points and fill with the middle green. Finally, select the outer points and fill with the lighter sample.


We'll do this with all the leaves and the final result should look like this: 


Let's group (Object > Group) our first design and move on to the next one.

Step 3

The second design is made up of four strokes. We'll select the Paintbrush Tool and make four strokes as you see in the image below.


We'll give the following values to the central stem:


For the other three stems input these values:


We'll select the four strokes and expand them (Object > Expand Appearance):


Fill in this design with a Linear Gradient from a dark green to a lighter one and group them (Object > Group):


Step 4

For the last design we'll draw a leaf shape like this one using the pen tool.


We'll fill it in with the same colors as the first one. We'll select the leaf and go to  Object > Create Gradient Mesh, and input the following values:


With the Direct Select Tool we'll select the points of the Gradient Mesh and color it with the Eyedropper Tool like we did with the first design.


Step 5

To give your leaves more realism, let’s draw white strokes with the Paintbrush Tool:


Select the lines and apply the following values:


Expand the paths (Object > Expand Appearance) and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. The result should be like the one we see in the image below.


Placing the leaves

Step 1

Let’s go to where we left the wooden background. Select it and unlock it (Object > Lock > Selection). We'll place the leaves by copying and pasting as many times as you need over our Artboard.  Rotate, flip, etc. to create the design.


Group all the leaves.

Step 2

Let’s create a few shadows to add more volume to some parts of the design. With the Ellipse Tool create an ellipse of 200x100 px with a radial gradient in black and white on Multiply Mode. We  have to make sure that the gradient doesn’t escape the elliptical shape.


Step 3

We'll place the shading under the leaves (Object > Arrange > Send Backward) and we'll copy and paste it under the leaves as many times as we need, like you see here.


The result should look something like this.


Frame the design

With the rectangle Tool, create a shape that’s 1200x800 px and align it with the center of the Artboard.


With the Selection Tool, select the rectangle and all the leaves and make a Clipping Mask (Object > Clipping Mask > Make).


And we're done!


What do you think of this tutorial?


Edited 1 year ago

Thank you this is very helpful

On this tutorial, you'll learn how to make an attractive framed background with natural elements. Using the Pen tool, a Gradient mesh and the Blending modes you'll be able to create realistic looking leaves in no time.

Tut Details

Intermediate level 45m 1,066 views