‘Save the plants’ with vector artist Tribhuvan Suthar in Affinity Designer

Tribhuvan’s slick vector illustrations and icons first came to our attention on Instagram; deceptively simple in appearance he uses a range of subtle techniques to create his art. Here he shares some of the techniques that went into making his ‘Save the plants’ illustration in Affinity Designer…
A video showing the making of the ‘Save the plants’ illustration.

The process

Sketch

I had already made a draft sketch to create my outlines over the top of, you can sketch using the Paint Brush Tool in Pixel Persona or add a sketch to your workspace that you’ve created elsewhere by selecting Place Image. This is your starting point.

Step 1. Add the sketch image.

Outlines

Next I traced the outline of my sketch using the Pen Tool with the stroke set to 0.2 pt and colour set to black.

Tracing the outline of your sketch using the Pen Tool.

To create the leaf shapes I used the Rectangle Tool in combination with the Corner Tool to round two corners.

Using the Corner Tool to change a rectangle shape to create the leaf shape.

Shading and highlights

I then began to fill the shapes created using the Fill Tool and linear gradients. By using gradient fills on different layers, with different levels of Opacity and by clippling them to different shapes I created shading and highlights throughout the image.

Filling the shapes using the Fill Tool and gradient fills, in this case, a linear gradient.

Colouring the leaves

I used the linear gradient option once again to fill each leaf with two shades of green to create more depth.

The highlights on the leaves I created by drawing vector shapes with the Pen Tool in a lighter colour, which I then clipped to the leaf shapes and turned the Opacity down to 10%—you can go less if you prefer.

Use the linear gradient option to fill the leaf with two shades of green.
Two images showing how the subtle shine highlights were made on the leaves using the Pen Tool.

Two colour highlights

By adding magenta and cyan highlights to the edges of the illustration I enhanced the lighting effect, giving the appearance of it being lit with different coloured light from different angles. You’ll see I’ve repeated this effect throughout the image, from the plant pot to the glass and the leaves.

By adding magenta and cyan highlights to the edges of the image we give a back-lit effect.
Two colour highlights on the plant—note the magenta pink and cyan edges on the leaves and stalk.

Gaussian Blur

To create a glowing effect on different parts of the image I duplicated elements of the design and added a Gaussian Blur to them using Layer Effects.

Here I’ve hidden a leaf so you can see the Gaussian Blur layer which I have placed behind it to create a subtle glow.

The Gaussian Blur is applied to pink and blue shapes behind the leaf, with the leaf hidden you can see the glow more clearly.

Adding reflections

By using subtle gradients and changing the opacity I created reflections of light in the glass. To give the appearance of beams of light reflecting off the glass I created a grey shape to overlay onto the dome and also rectangles of a darker purple colour which I clipped to that shape. With the Opacity turned down to 10% you get the effect of a sheen and rays of light hitting the glass dome.

A grey gradient shape with darker purple rectangle bands clipped to it, with opacity turned to 10% it creates bands of light on the glass dome.
Reflections on the glass dome.

I created individual lines in cyan and magenta to give the appearance of highlighted reflections in the glass dome. With Gaussian Blur applied to make them soft and with Opacity turned down to 10% they create a subtle but effective shine.

The vector lines with Gaussian Blur applied, the second shows the same but with the Opacity turned down to give a subtle effect.

Shadows on the floor

Gaussian Blur is used once again to create shadows on the floor. By creating dark coloured oval shapes using the Ellipse Tool and applying a Gaussian Blur effect I created soft shadows. I used the same effect with dark coloured vector lines to create definition but retain the subtlety and softness of the shadows.

Creating soft shadows by drawing dark coloured oval shapes using the Ellipse Tool and dark lines using the Pen Tool, then applying a Gaussian Blur effect.

Glow behind the dome

Adding a subtle glow behind the main illustration gives more depth to the image. I created an area of magenta glow and an area of blue glow by creating shapes with the Pen Tool and again adding a Gaussian Blur layer effect and tweaking the Opacity for more subtlety.

A screenshot showing the pink light reflection added to the background.

The finished illustration

The final image.

About the creator

Tribuvan Suthar is a Graphic Designer and UI designer based in Mumbai, India. He regularly creates designs for websites and brand identity, with an interest in abstract vector designs particularly for the web. When he isn’t busy using Affinity Designer to create his eye-catching designs he has a passion for photography and travel.

You can check out more of his work at tribhuvansuthar.in on Dribbble and Instagram.


Artist relations
Charlotte is an illustrator and arts lecturer who is passionate about the creative industries and is now part of our artist relations team. Her interests include mid 20th century inspired design, comic books, board games, movie memorabilia, baking cakes, feminism and yoga. She shares her 1960’s home with her graphic designer husband and her toddler son who likes to hide her iPad. Get in touch with Charlotte if you have work you have made in Affinity apps to share with us, or tag your work with #madeinaffinity in the usual places.
Credits & Footnotes

Artwork copyright © Tribhuvan Suthar 2019.