How To Illustrate Palm Tree

How To Illustrate Palm Tree

  • Software: Inkscape or other vector graphics editor
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Subject: Palm Tree

We have seen how we can illustrate plants in an ornamental style earlier. This time we will go for a more realistic and free form approach to illustrate a Palm tree. Though I say realistic, it is relative – as in vector art, you usually simplify and reuse shapes.

Start of by making a basic leaf shape.

How To Illustrate Palm Tree - Create basic shape of a leafy branch

You should be able to create the leaf shape by using a bezier curve having two nodes. Make copies of the shape and slightly rotate them, as you place them one below the other. Also, scale down the leaf shape by a small amount as you come down. After that, copy the whole thing and do a horizontal flip on it.

If it were not a realistic approach, we could have left it at that. But since we are trying to make it look less artificial, move around one side of the leaves.

How To Illustrate Palm Tree - Make it look less artificial

Go ahead and add another leaf to the gap left in between the two sets. Select them all and perform a union operation so that they are combined to have a outline.

We will be using this shape to construct most of the palm tree. Go ahead and make a copy of it and keep it aside. (You can use this shape in your other artworks too).

How To Illustrate Palm Tree - Basic volume

Make copies of this shape and place them in a radial fashion. Flip horizontally or vertically, and also be sure to squeeze or strech the shape a little bit horizontally or vertically. Once you are done, make sure that you have a extra copy (green) of the shape.

As you did with the leaves to create the shape, select the radial pattern, and perform a union operation.

How To Illustrate Palm Tree - Background branches

Now it is time to give it a dark green shade. Remember to hide the outline (or make it the same color).

Use the shape you had copied and kept separately earlier to create the branches in the foreground.

How To Illustrate Palm Tree - Foreground branches

Repeat the radial pattern, but keep the number of branches low. Scale them down a bit and keep them non-overlapping. Give it a lighter green shade. Select them all and group them together before proceeding to create the trunk.

Use the bezier tool to create a four sided polygon.

How To Illustrate Palm Tree - Trunk outline

Edit the bezier curves to give it a more natural look and shade it a dark brown. Move the trunk behind green leaves/branches.

Go ahead and create a smaller bezier polygon to mark out the lighter tone area.

How To Illustrate Palm Tree - Trunk shading

Give it a curvy look, detailing the cylindrical cross section of the trunk. Leave most of the top part of the trunk as it will usually be in shadow area.

Set the fill color of the new shape to a light tone of brown and switch off the outline.

How To Illustrate Palm Tree - Final

And there you have it. A palm tree that you can use in your vector art of a beach or a tropical evergreen forest. With the basic branch shape you should be able to make several variations of the palm tree.

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  1. rav’s avatar

    Very good for new users! Congratulations!


  2. cameron’s avatar

    wow, great tutorial. super easy, this is practically my first time using inkscape and it worked perfectly.



  3. Vyoma’s avatar

    Thanks cameron. Do upload your work and post a link!


  4. gorowy’s avatar

    hi Vyoma! That is great tutorial, i very like yours arts ! I want to ask you, can I translate this tutorial for polish gimp & inkscape webpage ? I will leave a note that oryginal tut is yours and can be found at this webpage. Greetings, gorowy


  5. Vyoma’s avatar

    Sure gorowy. Just leave a link to this page, and that should be fine. (If you are using the same images, host them yourselves though).


  6. Rob Hill’s avatar

    Nice work!, strangely enough just what I was looking for. I need to make somethig similar in FLASH, and then animate it. Vector based too.


  7. Vyoma’s avatar

    Great! Have you uploaded it any where, Rob?

    Do post a link to it – I would be glad to check it out. :)


  8. mike hunt’s avatar

    can we trademark that picture? thanks, we already did


  9. Vyoma’s avatar

    Not sure what you mean mike. The copyright to this image is still with me.


  10. Prashant’s avatar

    dear vyoma,

    great tutorial!
    i”m a beginner and found it very useful…

    Do you mind if I give a link to this page in my blog?

    It’d certainly help many of my friends….



  11. Vyoma’s avatar

    Thanks, kaxy.

    Prashant, of course you can link. There is nothing wrong in linking to any page you want on the internet on your blog. ;)


  12. Xbody’s avatar

    Nice and quick tutorial!


  13. marco’s avatar

    Super tutorial but i must learn more to do it


  14. megan’s avatar

    wow thanks, it really helped on a school project!!!!



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