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In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to create a group of hand-drawn water color style pumpkins to use as the main focus in an Autumn Festival flyer.  I will also show you some tricks for creating a rustic, hand lettering style for the flyer’s information.


Step 1:  Create a new, letter sized document.  Draw out a rectangle for the background and set the color to a light beige #F4F0E4.


Step 2: Find a few pictures of some nice gourds and pumpkins to use as a reference when drawing.

Tip: I like to use my own resources when creating new drawings, so I stopped by my local grocer and picked up a bag of ornamental gourds.  Most stores in the US will start selling these in early October.  It may seem like a hassle to shoot your own reference images, but it gives you more control and also allows you to sell your final images commercially without infringing on anybody’s copyright.  You also end up with more worry-free assets for your own library.  Below are some of the images I took.  One $8 bag of ornamental gourds from the grocer later and I think I have all the reference images of gourds/squash I would ever need.



This is where I offer up one of the images to my readers.  You can download it by CLICKING HERE.

Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and this image is for learning purposes only.  If you can’t handle slightly blurry, improperly exposed images then don’t click on the link.


Step 3: Place your reference image(s) into your document on a new layer.  Lock the layer and create a new one. You can also turn this layer into a template layer by clicking on the layer menu, then clicking on “template”.  I like to keep my reference at 100% visible as I draw.


Step 4: If you don’t have a drawing tablet, then the next steps will be a little more difficult as you won’t be able to use pressure settings of the brushes.  I am going to use the brush tool with a 2pt oval brush.  Here are the settings I am using.


Note: You will also want to open your Appearance Panel, click on the menu and make sure “New Art Has Basic Appearance” is clicked off.


Step 5:  Start drawing.  Follow the curves and use the coloring of the gourd to guide where you draw.  As you go, you may find it helpful to make your stroke color something that stands out from your image.



Keep plugging away at it until you have created a nice sketchy outline.  When you are done, chance the color of the stroke to a dark brown #5E3415.  You should also select all of your lines and group them together (ctrl + G).



Step 6:  Draw out a couple more gourds to use in your layout.  Since I plan to use these drawings for other purposes, I want to make sure I draw out the entire shape instead of limiting myself to one final layout (the stacked gourds in our example).  I will show you how to easily alter them to fit together in the following steps.



Step 7: At this point, I am going to go ahead and expand my strokes.  Object > Expand Appearance.   I am then going to stack the drawings.  Looks pretty awful, I know, but we are going to fix it in the next step.


Step 8:  Starting at the bottom, we are going to remove the lines that overlap.  My preferred method is to use the pathfinder’s divide tool.  This allows me to make the cut without disturbing the width of the stroke because it is already expanded.

You will want to zoom in and using the Pen or Pencil tool, draw a simple line where you want to make the cut (at the bottom of the next pumpkin up in our case).  As you draw the line, remember that wherever your line is, it is going to make a cut through the shape.


Step 9: With the line still selected, you will also select the bottom pumpkin lines (which should be all grouped together).  In the Pathfinder Palette, select “Divide”.


Step 10: Double click your newly chopped pumpkin to enter isolation mode. This will allow you to select and delete the bits you want to remove.


Step 11:  Repeat this process until you have removed all of the unwanted lines throughout all the pumpkin/gourd shapes.


Step 12:  Now to start “painting”.  Create a new layer. Using the same brush settings as we used for our outlines, I am going to change the stroke to 6-7 pt and set the color to a light orange #EDD4A2.  Start filling in the shapes in loose, messy lines.




Keep going until everything is filled in.



Step 13: Now for the shading.  Create a new layer above the main color layer. Set the stroke weight to about 4pt and change the color to #C19462.  We want to get a bit of a watercolor/ink wash effect here, so set the Transparency Mode to Multiply and lower the Opacity to around 20%.  The objective here is to slowly build up the shading through a series of smaller strokes.


Be nice and messy with the strokes as you slowly build up the shadows.




Step 14:  Complete the process through all of the shapes.  Make sure to add extra strokes to the areas where they touch to add depth.


Step 15:  Now for the highlights.  Brush will have the same settings.  Change the color to white and set the Transparency Mode to Overlay at around 65%.  Make sure this layer is placed below the shadows and above the main color.  Start painting out smaller strokes like you did with the shading.  For the highlights, you won’t need to make as many strokes.



Step 16: Now that we are done with the illustration, I am going to move it over to the side a little to make room for the text.


Step 17:  I am going to start with the name of the event and work the rest of the information around it.  I have set the color to #5E3415. The font I am using here is called “Freebooter Script” and can be found over at fontsquirrel – CLICK HERE



Step 18: To create the arch of text draw out a basic circle.  Using the direct selection tool (A) select the bottom node and delete it.  This will give us a path to type on.


Step 19: Pull up the “Type on a Path” Tool and click on your arch to enter your text.   You may have to adjust the placement of the text. For a more in depth article on working with the type path tool, CLICK HERE.





The font I am using here is called Amatic and can be found on fontsquirrel – CLICK HERE


Step 20: Make a copy of this text and paste in front (ctrl + F). Resize the arch to be a little smaller and then move it down a little for our second line.


Step 21: Type out your next bit of text under the main header. We are going to use an Arch Warp. Go to Effect > Warp > Arch. Set the bend to -16%


Step 22: The next line of text will have a Warp: Arc Upper also set at -16%


Step 23: I have added in some more lines of text without an effect and drew out a little laurel. The last bit of text with the phone number has a Warp: Arc Lower set at 16%.


Customize the message to your own needs and you are done!



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