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Draw a Christmas Tree in Adobe Illustrator CS3 with the Pen and Blend Tools

In this tutorial for IllustratorR CS3, we will draw a Christmas tree on an Artist Trading Card but you can use the same steps for a greeting card. We will use the Pen, Star and Line tools to draw the basic shapes for the tree and then finish the tree with the Blend tool and Ornamental Border brush.

  1. Start a new document with the dimensions of an Artist Trading Card. The Width should be 2.5 inches and the Height 3.5 inches. If you are making a greeting card, adjust as you need for the printed size of the card. In the New Document dialog box, keep the Color Mode set to RGB and the Raster Effects set to High 300 ppi.

  2. The first thing that I like to do when starting a new project is to clear the Swatches Panel of all those color swatches that I do not need for the project. Click on the small black triangle at the top right corner of the panel to open the menu. Choose Select All Unused from the menu. This will highlight all of the swatches. From the menu again, choose Delete Swatches. Now we have room to add our custom colors to the Swatches Panel.

  3. From the Swatches Panel menu again, choose New Swatch to open the New Swatch dialog box. Set the RGB color values to the following and name our custom swatch "ChristmasDarkRed".

    R 69, G 0, B 3

    Repeat this for two more custom swatches.

    R 169, G 7, B 28

    R 255, G 237, B 234

  4. Now we can create a custom gradient using our two red swatches. Go to the Gradient Panel and click on the Gradient Slider (the horizontal bar) to display the Gradient Stops. Keep the Type set to Linear and set the Angle to 90 degrees. Next, we will drag the red swatches from the Swatches panel to the Gradient Stops. Click on the ChristmasDarkRed swatch and drag it to the right Gradient Stop. Click and drag the ChristmasLightRed swatch to the left Gradient Stop.

    Finally, we will add this custom gradient to the Swatches Panel. From the Swatches Panel menu, click New Swatch. When the dialog box opens this time, all of the controls are unavailable. All we need to do is give our gradient a name. Let's call it "ChristmasGradientRed".

  5. We will use our new gradient to create the background of our project. In the Layers Panel, rename Layer 1 to "Background". From the Tools Panel, click on the Rectangle tool and set the Stroke to null. The Fill is already set to our gradient. Click and drag with the Rectangle tool to draw a rectangle over the entire area.

  6. We are ready to add our tree. Create a new layer in the Layers Panel and call it "Tree". Our first step in creating the tree is to draw a curved path with the Pen tool. Set the Fill to null and the Stroke to our ChristmasWhite. From the Control Panel, set the Stroke Weight to .5.

    We will put the first anchor point for our path at the lower left of the rectangle. Click with the Pen tool and drag downward to set the first Direction Line. Next, we will create the second anchor point in the center and about one quarter down from the top of the rectangle. Click with the Pen tool and drag upward to create the curved path. With the Selection tool, click outside of the rectangle to set the path.

  7. We will now create the second side of our tree by making a copy of the curved path and flipping it horizontally. With the Selection tool, click on our curved path. From the Menubar, click Edit Copy and then Edit Paste. Going back to the Menubar again, click Object Transform Reflect. In the Reflect dialog box, set the Angle to 90 degrees.

    Now that we have flipped the curved path, we need to position it next to the original. Click on the second path with the Selection tool and drag it into place so that the top points of the two paths overlap.

  8. We will use the Blend tool to finish the tree. Double click on the Blend tool to open the Blend Options dialog box. Set the Spacing to Specified Steps and the number of steps to 20. Click OK to save the settings and your cursor should change to a square. At the bottom of the rectangle, click on the beginning anchor point for the original path and then click on the beginning anchor point for the second path. The tree should fill with repeats of the paths. The result will look something like this. All of the tree should still be selected. From the Menubar, click Object Group to group all the paths together.

    Save your image in Illustrator .ai format. We will add the star and floor base in the next tutorial. The star will be created with the Line and Star tools. The floor base will be created by applying an Ornamental Border brush to a curved path.

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Content copyright © 2015 by Diane Cipollo. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Diane Cipollo. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Diane Cipollo for details.


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