I'm trying to recreate a motif based on some reference photos, like:


And this is what I have so far:


I'm going for a more precise and "sharp" look than the reference photo, where the motif appears hand-painted, with some edges more rounded than others.

What are some tips I can use for making these "leaves" line up better and look more uniform?

My current approach, as evidenced by the right side of the example, was as follows:

  • Create the green guide lines for the inner and outer boundaries
  • Using Path Divide (CADtools plugin), add 6 equal cuts to the inner guide line, and 5 cuts to the outer
  • "freehand" the top and bottom leaves
  • Starting from the bottom, duplicate the shape and give it a thick outside-aligned stroke, roughly overlapping the next marks on the guide lines.
  • Expand Appearance, and use the top curve of the expanded stroke as the base of the next leaf. (i.e. the red curve determines the shape of the blue curve above it)
  • Simplify the curve until it has only two anchors (~90%) and snap the ends of the curve to the marks on the appropriate guide lines.
  • Freehand the red curve
  • Repeat for each leaf. (I copied the last red curve each time and rotated, stretched, and tweaked it to fit)

Obviously, there was plenty of guesswork and it really didn't turn out perfect. The leaves don't appear to "fan out" properly because the angles, curves, thicknesses, and spaces aren't all measured and uniform.

Could anyone please provide some ideas on how to make better use of my friends Math and Geometry?

(I'm using Illustrator CC 2019. Project file available if needed)

  • Hi. Welcome to GDSE. I'm not sure if this will help which is why I've posted this as a comment rather than an answer, but the problem might be because you are using a sample which has a lot of perspective distortion, making the result look very stretched. Perhaps search google images for "Greek floral pattern" to find examples that aren't distorted for perspective. It would probably make the a lot task easier.
    – Billy Kerr
    Aug 22, 2019 at 10:09
  • That was exactly the search I needed, thank you! I'd been trying everything else, from Art Deco to Vintage, with no luck. But here it is! colourbox.com/vector/greek-patterns-vector-8863546 Aug 22, 2019 at 12:01
  • OK, I've added an answer now - which includes the name of these patterns, and also some tips about getting the curves right.
    – Billy Kerr
    Aug 22, 2019 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


First of all, these are [ancient] Greek floral patterns, as mentioned in my comment. If you can search for a better example that doesn't show perspective distortion, that will make the task a lot easier.

As for curves, I see no need to use any plugins for this. In my opinion the Pen Tool is enough to create nice petals. Just remember to keep the number of anchors to a minimum. You shouldn't really need more than four anchor points to get a nice shape for one of those petals. This will make editing them easier in the long run.

Then, one you have a nice petal shape, you can copy and paste it, rotate and scale each one. Use some curves as guides if you want, to help you position them.

You might want to work with each petal as a symbol rather than just copies. So that when you edit the petal shape inside the symbol all the petals will update. After you have it more or less right, you could expand the symbols to allow further manual editing of the curves in each petal if necessary, to fix anything that looks off.

Here's an example. I'm using a reflected symbol for the opposite side, which is why it has been faded to a grey colour:

enter image description here


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