Penless Cacti and Succulents!

Penless Cacti and Succulents! - student project

This class was so good for me

Honestly I came into this entire workshop with very little knowledge of Illustrator besides how to use the pen tool, so it seems appropriate to wrap it up with a class that forced me not to use it.

It took me a little while to decide what i wanted to do for this challenge, and ended up settling on my own plants as inspiration, since they're a great variety of shapes and colors.


I didn't work from a specific sketch or image for these, so it took kind of a while to figure out exactly how to make some of the shapes, but I really enjoyed the trial and error!


Penless Cacti and Succulents! - image 1 - student project

Here's a pretty good example of how much progress I made during the trial and error! A lot of the learning I did during this project was really about creative use of gradients and strokes. My first attempt at a firestick (right) ended up super boring because I used the arc tool to make the stalks, then expanded and merged them all into one shape before adding the gradient, but then I realized how I could modify the gradients on the individual stalks to make it look a lot more voluminous.

The gradient practice ended up being really important for this one, which I wasn't sure I would be able to recreate satisfactorily:

Penless Cacti and Succulents! - image 2 - student project

Each of the individual "leaves" are basically outlined in purple, and there's a lot of gradient purple happening around the stem and where the leaves meet the stem

I ended up using a combination of strokes and gradients to get this:

Penless Cacti and Succulents! - image 3 - student project


Each of the leaves is a combination of two circles with a "stem" made from a line I messed with by adjusting the width. In terms of colorI know there's a lot I could probably do with textures but I don't know shit about how to use them (yet, that's another set of classes I need to take), so this is what I've got for now.


Here's the final version of all my cacti:

Penless Cacti and Succulents! - image 4 - student project


Feedback is welcome as always, and thank you Hayden for the class! 

Elyse Klova

explorer, magician, recovering perfectionist