Gradient flower icon in Illustrator
2008 at 06.07 pm posted by Veerle Pieters
A reader asked me if I could write a tutorial about how I created the Cecif.com logo icon. It is the perfect icon for learning certain basic Illustrator techniques. We’re going to use the Pen, Reflect, Scissors and Gradient tool, and of course we’ll also use the beloved and super timesaving Transform again technique.
First of all, we need to analyze the shape, and search for patterns or drawing steps. What do we see when looking at this shape? We see 5 equal parts. I'll call them leafs. Secondly, we see that each leaf is also perfectly symmetrical. Thirdly, there is a seamless rainbow gradient fill that connects them together. Last but not least, a tricky one, the lines of the icon overlap each other.
These are the steps I'll take:
- Draw 1/2 part of a leaf using a stroke
- Reflect and duplicate this 1/2 part and turn it into a perfect symmetrical leaf
- Duplicate rotate the leaf at 72°
- Repeat this 3 times to complete flower shape
- Connect the 5 leafs at the center area of the flower
- Turn strokes into fills
- Apply the gradients
- Check the overlapping lines and correct where (and if) needed
Draw the flower icon shape
This 1st step is tricky and might be a bit hard for a beginner since it involves drawing a perfect curve using the Pen tool. Though I'll try to explain and show this as good as I can so you'll be able to follow. If things don't go well in this step, I suggest you to try out these Basic Pen tool Exercises first before moving on.
First of all, select black as stroke color and none as fill. I'm using a tick stroke of 10 pt. This value depends of course on how large you're drawing this shape. Make sure Rulers are visible (View > Show Rulers or cmd/ctrl + R). Drag a vertical guide. This guide is the line that divides the leaf into 2 perfect sides, left and right. Select the Pen tool and start your 1st curved point somewhere on the right of the guide as shown in the picture above. Click and drag downwards to the left.
Draw the 2nd point a bit lower on the left of the guide. Hold down Shift while drawing this point. Drag vertically downwards. Draw the 3rd and last point again a bit lower, right on top of the guide. Again Hold down Shift while drawing this point. Drag horizontal to the right. Hold down Command/Control key and click once on your canvas to deselect the path. Use the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) in case you think the curve needs a bit of tweaking to make it perfect. Just make sure the handles of the last point are perfectly horizontal, otherwise you could run into trouble. The left and right part of the leaf will not match perfectly and a small gap or you'll end up with a small overlap.
Select the Selection tool (black arrow) and select the shape. Select the Reflect tool, Hold down Alt/Option key and click somewhere on top of the guide. Make sure you click precisely. This is important to avoid gaps or overlaps. In the Reflect window that appears, choose Vertical as Axis and click Copy.
Because the lines are overlapping, we can't join both sides of the leaf. Select both shapes and select the Rotation tool. Hold down Alt/Option key and click somewhere on top of the guide a little bit above the shape as shown in the image above. Make sure you click precisely. In the Rotate window enter an Angle value of 72° (360/5) and hit the Copy button. Now hit Cmd/Ctrl + D (Object > Transform >Transform Again) 3 times in a row to complete the flower icon shape.
Zoom in on the center of the icon. Select the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) and drag a selection around 2 neighbor points and hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to connect them. Repeat these steps for the 4 gaps.
You should end up with something that looks a bit like an upside down star shape in the center. This star shape depends on the center point you have chosen before to rotate and duplicate the leafs. Select the entire object using the Selection tool (black arrow). Go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke to turn the strokes into fills.
Color the flower icon shape
I have already prepared 5 different colors in my Swatches palette: yellow, red, purple, blue and green. From these global color swatches I've created 5 different linear gradients:
- green blue
- yellow green
- red yellow
- red purple
- purple blue
Select a fragment using the Selection tool (black arrow) and fill it with the first gradient.
Select the other 4 fragments one by one and give them their proper gradient as shown in the image above. Make sure you apply the gradients in the proper order so you can connect each one of them using a smooth transition.
Select the first fragment and select the Gradient tool. Define start and ending point of the gradient by dragging a line as shown in the image above. Select the 2nd fragment and do the same again.
Do the same for the other segments.
Correct to make perfect
You should end up with an almost perfect icon. If you take a close look and compare it to the original, you'll see that we have 2 mismatches. So we need to do some fixing here.
Let's start by moving this segment to the back. This way we have 1 problem out of the way. Select the fragment and go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back. The only way to solve the 2nd problem is to divide the shape into 2 pieces so we can have the purple line go on top of the blue line and also have it go under the red line at the same time. We can change the stacking order of the 5 shapes to try to fix this problem, but what you do is just moving the problem to another fragment. So in the end there will always be 1 line where things don't match and where we have to correct. Select the Scissors tool and cut (click on the path) the path somewhere in between the intersection with the blue and red line. Cut the path on both sides of the fill as marked in the image above.
Now join both opening ends of the shape. Select the 2 endpoints of 1 segment and hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to close the path. Lock this shape by hitting Cmd/Ctrl + 2. Select the other 2 opening points and hit Cmd/Ctrl + J again to close the other fragment.
Selecting 2 endpoints can be a bit tricky. Sometimes you run into trouble by having more than 2 endpoints selected. Illustrator will then show a message 'To join, you must select two open endpoints...'. Here is what I usually do when this happens: I click once on one point (which probably sits on top of the endpoint I want). I use one of the arrow keys (e.g. up key) to move this point from its position. Then chances are you can select the proper endpoints to join them. After the path is closed you move the point back in its original position using the arrow keys (e.g. down key). Sometimes more than 1 point needs to be moved from its position.
Once both paths are closed, unlock the shape you've locked before by hitting Cmd/Ctrl + Alt/Option + 2. Move the purple fragment shape under the blue line by sending it to back: Object > Arrange > Send to Back. Now all there is left to do is applying a solid purple color to the fragment that lays on top of the red line and the icon is complete. There you have it! Hope you enjoyed it ;)
The Cecif.com icon, part of the Cecif.com logo, and created by Duoh! n.v. is property of Cecif.com. It is used in this article for educational purpose only and may not be used or copied in any form or by any means.
Want to learn more?
A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.