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Create a Christmas wreath in Illustrator

Illustrator tutorial - how to create a wreath starting from an hand drawn branch

Helloou guys! To celebrate the merriest season of the year, today we’ll talk about how to create a Christmas wreath in Illustrator!

Yeah, I know there are many Christmas cards out there, all so pretty and shouting “BUY ME“! But what’s better than realising your own season greetings cards to send to your loved ones?!?!


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wreath tutorial in Illustrator


If you think that drawing wreaths is an impossible and time-consuming task, well, in this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a Christmas wreath in Illustrator in 4 easy steps, starting from an hand-drawn branch.




I can understand if you are in a rush and you don’t have time to follow all the process. That’s why I made available to download for free a collection of wreaths in .ai and .pdf format. You can hit the link here below and start creating your Christmas cards and placeholders for your Christmas table with the wreaths you’ll find in the collection.




Now, let’s dive into the 4 steps to create a Christmas wreath in Illustrator.


1. Scan your sketch and increase the contrast

The first thing to do is to scan your hand-drawn branch at 300dpi. I use an Epson XP-247 for my scans. I bought it at a very good price from Argos. Alternatively, you can use apps like CamScanner and take a picture of the drawing from your smartphone. It will be converted into a document that you can email to yourself and use it for the next steps of this tutorial.

Then, we need to increase the contrast and whiten the background in Photoshop in order to make the following step easier.


2. Vectorize your raster image

Once you’ve saved the picture just edited in Photoshop, we are ready to move into Illustrator to vectorize it. By selecting in Illustrator the image, you can either click directly on Image Trace or you can try a couple of times with different modes and find the most appropriate for your project. In the tutorial, I used the Line Art mode, so my artwork has been converted into an outstroke path.

The sharper the edges of your raster image are, the better the trace result will be. That’s the reason why we increased the contrast and whiten the background in the previous step.


3. Clean all the imperfections

No matter how hard you work on your raster image in Photoshop before vectorizing it in Illustrator, it still won’t be perfect. So the third step consists of getting rid of all the imperfections we got after having expanded the trace result.

You can choose between two methods.

Use the pencil tool

If you traced your image using the Line Art settings, you should now have a path with its own stroke. You can get the outline stroke of this path and use the pencil tool to adjust all the bits of your artwork that you don’t like as shown in the tutorial.

Use a graphic tablet and redraw the branch

“Why would you do that?” – I know what you are thinking. It might sound crazy and time-consuming, but, from my experience, I find this to be actually the quickest way to clean all the imperfection you get from tracing an image in Illustrator. At least for this type of projects. This is also the method I used in the tutorial. My graphic tablet is a Wacom Intuos Tablet that my friends gave to me the graduation day. I still feel I’m not 100% confident and super duper skilled with it, but I’m getting there. Usually, I reduce the opacity of the doodle previously vectorized and I block the layer, in order to be able to draw on it. Then I use the Blob Brush Tool to redraw everything. In the tutorial, I also share with you a great tip to know, especially if you are like me and your hand is not steady.


4. Create a pattern brush

Once you’ve done with step 3, you can group together all the elements of the branch you’ve just drawn and create a new brush. We need to create a pattern brush, then, in the setting tab, select Approximate Path and choose the colourisation mode in order to be able to change the colour later.

Hit ok and…That’s it! Job done.

Now you can create your wreaths and enjoy creating your Christmas decorations.


Hope you found this post useful! I would be thrilled to hear your technique, so if you have any suggestion just type it in the comments here below!


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Posted on 16/07/2018

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