In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool and Blend in Adobe Illustrator to create a wooden background with an old sheet of paper and some autumn leaves!
1. How to Draw the Old Sheet of Paper
To draw the sheet of paper, first draw an 80 x 100px rectangle and fill it with
#FBDFA9. Grab the nodes on its upper right and lower left edges and bring them inwards, creating slanted edges.
Next, take the Mesh Tool (U) and by clicking on the shape, create a Mesh grid, just like in the picture. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the nodes that are indicated in the screenshot below and color them with
Continue selecting and coloring the nodes in the lower part of the screenshot. You will need these colors:
Finish drawing the sheet of paper by adding some extra Mesh nodes with the Mesh Tool (U) and coloring them. You will need these:
For the next few steps, we will be needing the Wrinkle Tool.
Select it from the toolbar, and then double-tap with it on the canvas to bring up the options.
- Width: 40 px
- Height: 30 px
- Angle: -90°
- Intensity: 30%
- Horizontal: 20%
- Vertical: 100%
- Complexity: 1
- Detail: 3
Use the modified Wrinkle Tool on the right and left sides of the paper to make it look more old and rugged.
Now, modify the options once more by changing the Angle to 0° and the Intensity to 20%. Use this tool on the top and bottom of the page to finalize the rugged look!
Finally, smooth out the top right corner a bit by deleting some unnecessary nodes.
Draw a bent corner using a Mesh! You will need these colors:
Attach the bent corner on the top right.
Now, draw a shadow for the bent corner! Create two shapes, one colored with
#986D38, and the second one with
#DCB97F. Place the brown shape on top of the beige shape, and change the beige shape’s Opacity to 0%.
Select both shapes, and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options, inputting Specified Steps at 30. Apply the Blend to the shapes by choosing Object > Blend > Make.
Change the shadow’s Transparency options to Multiply and 80%.
Attach the shadow just under the bent corner!
For this step, download the attachment on the right of the tutorial. The file you download should be called “paper.jpg“.
Open it in Adobe Illustrator and move it to your work file.
We will need to get the texture from this piece of paper—for that, open Window > Image Trace and input Black and White mode with Threshold of 210. Click Trace.
This should be your result. Now, go to Object > Expand Appearance to isolate paths.
Change the color of the paths to
Draw an outline similar to the shape of our vector paper sheet. Place it on top of the traced paths as shown in the screenshot below.
Select both and, after right-clicking, choose Make Clipping Mask. This will hide the part of the paths that we won’t need.
Change the texture’s Opacity to 15%.
Place the texture on top of the paper sheet!
2. How to Draw and Place Leaves
To learn how to draw leaves, follow my tutorial on drawing and recoloring autumn leaves!
We will need to tweak the colors a bit to fit the old, retro vibe of the illustration.
Go to Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Colors:
- Red: -8%
- Green: -5%
- Blue: 0%
Similarly recolor the red leaf, using these settings:
- Red: -8%
- Green: 4%
- Blue: 0%
Put the edited leaves back into formation.
Draw a shadow just like in my previous tutorial (draw an ellipse with a Radial gradient (
#CAA27C to white) and change its Transparency mode to Multiply) and then create enough copies for a big joint shadow of the group of leaves.
Add the shadow behind the leaves.
Then place the leaves and the shadows on top of the paper sheet.
It’s time for another Blend shadow, just as we did in the last section!
This time, we will need two shapes outlining the sheet of paper we created, the bigger one filled with
#A46D2C, and the smaller with
Change the bigger shape’s Opacity to 0%.
Using Specified Steps 30, go to Object > Blend and press Make.
Change the shadow’s Transparency to Multiply.
Place the shadow behind our sheet of paper.
3. How to Create the Wooden Background
Grab the Polar Grid Tool and tap twice on the artboard to bring up the options for the tool. Choose 150 x 150 px size, 7 Concentric Dividers, and 0 Radial Dividers.
Now fill the resulting shape with
#AA8E66 Radial Gradient.
Stretch out and rotate the colored shape.
Next, grab the Warp Tool using the following settings:
- Width: 60 px
- Height: 60 px
- Angle: 0
- Intensity: 50%
- Detail: 2
- Simplify: 50
With the Warp Tool, bend the circles to give them the appearance of a wooden texture.
Once you are happy with the result, draw an outline of a plank and Make a Clipping Mask out of the two shapes.
Your finished plank should look similar to this:
Follow Steps 1–6 again to create about five more different planks. Experiment with different placements and gradients!
Duplicate some of them and mix them around to create a wooden texture. Leave white gaps between the planks when moving them next to each other.
Fill a rectangle with
#46331A to create a backdrop for the planks.
Draw a simple Mesh to overlay our planks.
Fill a rectangle with
#3C2F1C, and then place a Mesh node in the upper left part of the shape. Color both that node and the top middle node with
Finally, change the shape’s Transparency to Overlay.
Place the Mesh on top of the wooden background and add the brown backdrop behind it!
Finally, place the paper with the leaves on top of the wooden background!
Awesome Work, You’re Done!
Thank you for following along, and please
feel welcome to post your result in the comments. I’ll be looking
forward to seeing it!
In this tutorial, you learned how to
create a realistic retro autumn background using the Mesh Tool.
hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and learned how to use some useful
tools for the future! Check out some of my other vector tutorials on my instructor profile.