I am currently trying to recreate the "drop shadow" appearance effect as a vector. As suggested by this tutorial, I tried supplementing the benefits of stroke-gradients. While it did work with other objects of my project the following trees are giving me some troubles:

Illustration of two trees

Especially at the ends of the branches artefacts are visible:

end of branch with shadow-artefacts

When further analysing the mesh illustrator is using for the shadows the problem becomes clear:

enter image description here

the lines of the mesh weirdly follow a circle pattern which isn't much of a surprise given that I made the stroke have round corners, however they kind of seem to be overzealous doing that, actually breaking with the flow those lines should have.

I have also tried changing corner- and cap-properties of the stroke, however to no avail.

Editing the mesh itself also proves to be difficult, up to impossible, since illustrator slows to a crawl whenever I expand the appearance (probably because of the many vector points the mesh creates). Does anybody here maybe know a different approach to creating a vectorised shadow which would be viable for the more complex form of these trees? Or maybe some solution as to how I may avoid the weird mesh behaviour?

1 Answer 1

  • From a branch copy, add a stroke as wide as the shadow will be, aligned outside


  • Menu Object > Expand Appearance
  • Keep only the outer and inner line of the shape

Expand appearance

  • Menu Object > Compound Path > Release
  • Select both shapes and fill them with black 100%
  • Select the outer shape > send it to back > Transparency Panel > Opacity = 0%


  • Select both shapes > Menu Object > Blend > Make
  • Menu Object > Blend > Blend Options > Specified Steps = 150


  • Align the shadow blend behind the branch
  • Set the shadow blend Blend Mode to Multiply, and change the opacity



Branch with shadow

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.