How to Illustrate Deliciously Realistic Grapes using Simple Techniques in Illustrator
In this tutorial we will learn how to illustrate a bunch of grapes using
basic Adobe Illustrator tools. You will learn how to render multiple
light sources and how to model a complex object using simple shapes and
techniques. Let’s get started.
Create a new document. We will start our illustration by drawing a
single grape. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create an ellipse with a
blue fill color (C= 83, M= 72, Y= 39 and K= 26) – this will be the basic
color of the grapes.
Now create a grape cluster by duplicating the first ellipse. You can
easily duplicate the shape by holding down the Alt key and dragging the
ellipse with the mouse.Then create an arbitrary contour of grape cluster
by using the Tool (P). The grape cluster will be formed gradually by
filling in three levels with the ellipses: the lower, the middle and the
upper. Start with the lower level, arbitrarily positioning berries
along the contour of the cluster.
Determine the light source. In order to bring more volume to the
grapes let’s assume that we have two light sources: direct light – the
first one (1), and reflected light – the second one (2).
Change the solid fill color of the berries to a radial gradient.
Start with the berries located closest to the first light source. Fill
the berries with a radial gradient from blue (C= 83, M= 72, Y= 39 and K=
26) to a light-blue color (C= 62, M= 44, Y= 27 and K= 2) then use the
Gradient Tool (G) to properly arrange the colors according to the
location of the light source.
Repeat the previous step with the berries located closer to the
second light source. The intensity of the second light source is less
than that of the first one, so the second gradient will be darker. So
fill the berries with radial gradient from blue (C= 83, M= 72, Y= 39 and
K= 26) to blue (C= 68, M= 54, Y= 33 and K= 9).
Using the previous technique, introduce the third reflected light
source, fill the upper berries with a radial gradient in the upper right
corner of our image. Now group up all the berries of the lower level
and name the group "Level 1".
Create the middle and the upper layer of the berries using the same technique.
So far, we have achieved a pretty good result, although our image
requires some further editing. First, let’s fill the gaps in the
cluster. With the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) change the shape
of the cluster’s contour so that it doesn’t protrude out from the
berries. Keep the contour selected and go to Object> Arrange> Send
to Back and fill the shape with the color (C= 75, M= 74, Y= 58 and K=
Let’s get down to more personalized settings. Move the berries
around to make the gaps more realistic and balanced, some berries may
have to be deleted, or added.
Adjust the gradient. Start working with the berries that don’t
overlap the other ones. As these berries are the closest to the light
and don’t have any shadows, they will be lighter than the others. Add a
new slider in the gradient palette as shown in the figure below. Now
remove the leftmost slider and drag the central slider to its place. Do
not forget that our berries are grouped, so use the Direct Selection
Tool (A) to select them.
Darken the shadowed berries that overlap other berries. To do this,
select the left slider in the gradient palette and change its color to a
darker one, increasing the value of K in the color palette. Repeat this
process for the rest of the berries. This work is painstaking, but very
We will now create abrasions and scratches on the berries. Using the
Pen Tool (P) create a ‘jellybean’ shape on the surface of the berry and
fill it with white. Using the Mesh Tool (U) set a grid point in the
center of the created shape. Change the color of this point to (C= 80,
M= 77, Y= 50 and K= 55). Using the Selection Tool (V) select the shape
again and change the Blending Mode to Multiply in the Transparency
Use the Pencil Tool (N) to create scratches. Adjust this tool before
you start working. Double-click on the Pencil icon in the Toolbar, type
the values shown in the figure below into the dialog box. Choose the
color of the stroke (C= 80, M= 77, Y= 50 and K= 55). Let’s start drawing
scratches. Diversify the scratches by changing the transparency and
To give the grapes a more realistic look, put abrasions and scratches on some of the berries.
It’s time to create some water drops on the grapes. Take the Ellipse
Tool (L) and create an ellipse with a linear gradient from blue (C= 75,
M= 62, Y= 58 and K= 8 ) to dark blue color (C= 80, M= 77, Y= 50 and K=
55). Now create another ellipse smaller than the first one with a radial
gradient fill from white to blue color (C= 75, M= 62, Y= 28 and K= 8 ).
Finally, create another ellipse, smaller than the second one. Set the
same radial gradient fill, but change the center location. This is a
very simple and effective way to create a water drop.
There’s no such thing as two identical water drops. With the
technique we used before, create a few different variants of the drop.
The more variants you have, the more realistic your image will be.
Position the drops on the lower part of the cluster, they can be scaled,
rotated and changed in transparency depending on the illumination
intensity. Name the current layer "Grape".
Create a new layer on top of the "Grape" layer and name it "Leaf ".
Using the Pen Tool (P) create the shape of a leaf. Fill the leaf with a
radial gradient consisting of three shades of green – 1 (C= 72, M= 22,
Y= 100 and K= 6), 2 (C= 68, M= 7, Y= 100 and K= 0), 3 (C= 50, M= 20, Y=
100 and K= 2).
Divide the leaf into several parts. Create five lines as shown in
the figure below with the Pen Tool (P). Select all the lines and the
shapes of the leaf and press the Divide button in the Pathfinder box.
Ungroup the leaf elements and adjust the gradient fill of each segment
with the help of the Gradient Tool (G). This operation will add realism
to our image.
Select all the segments of the leaf and go to Effect> Artistic>
Sponge. Set the following values in the dialog box: Brush Size 5;
Definition 8; Smoothness 1.
Create the veins on the leaf. Using the Pen Tool (P), create the
vein shape. Drag the shape into the Brushes palette, select the Art
Brush you have just created in the dialogue box.
You will now create the veins of the leaf with the Pen Tool (P).
Once you have made the veins, select them and click on the Brush you
made in the previous step, this will turn your lines into stylized brush
strokes that should look just like veins on a leaf. Select the veins
and go to Object> Expand Appearance. With the veins still selected,
click Add from the Pathfinder box and then Press Expand. Fill the veins
with a radial gradient consisting of four colors: 1 – Brown (C= 25, M=
68, Y= 100 and K= 13), 2 – Green (C= 41, M= 23, Y= 100 and K= 2 ) 3 –
Green (C= 35, M= 20, Y= 94 and K= 1), 4 – Green (C= 37, M= 21, Y= 97 and
Create a stalk shape and fill it with a linear gradient consisting of
three colors: 1 (C= 54, M= 50, Y= 65 and K= 27, 2 (C= 50, M= 35, Y= 65
and K= 10), 3 (C= 49, M= 15, Y= 100 and K= 1). Using the Pen Tool (P)
create a stem between the leaf and branch, and fill it with the same
gradient as the leaf veins.
To add volume to veins on the leaf, take the Pen Tool (P) and create
reflections of light and shadow on the veins. Use the following colors
for the linear gradient reflection: 1 – (C= 23, M= 15, Y= 87 and K= 0) 2
– (C= 27, M= 17, Y= 89 and K= 0). Colors of the linear gradient shadow:
1 – (C= 36, M= 30, Y= 95 and K= 4), 2 – (C= 42, M= 43, Y= 96 and K=
15), 3 – (C= 29, M= 20, Y= 90 and K= 0).
Using the Pen Tool (P) make a grape tendril. Create a curved line
without a fill, the color of the stroke doesn’t matter at this stage.
Create a New Art Brush. Create a shape similar to the one shown in
the figure below and drag it into the Brushes palette. Apply the brush
to the line created in step 24. Keeping the tendril selected, go to
Object> Expand Appearance and then to Object> Path> Clean Up.
Fill the shape with a linear gradient consisting of seven colors: 1 –
(C= 50, M= 20, Y= 100 and K= 2), 2 – (C= 25, M= 68, Y= 99 and K= 13) 3 –
(C= 41, M= 23, Y= 100 and K= 2), 4 – (C= 23, M= 15, Y= 87 and K= 0), 5 –
(C= 35, M= 20, Y= 94 and K= 1), 6 – (C= 27, M= 17, Y= 89 and K= 0), 7 –
(C= 38, M= 21, Y= 97 and K= 1).
Create dimension on the grape tendril using the technique and gradients described in step 23.
To finish your illustration, add a soft gradient to the background.
The key to making a realistic illustration is to pay close attention to
the details, the human eye is great at picking up on things that don’t
look right. If your illustration isn’t as ‘real’ as it could be, try
looking at some reference images and adding (or even subtracting) some
detail. Best wishes.