Create A Four-Leaf Clover

Four-Leaf Clover

In celebration of St. Patricks Day, I wanted to do a four-leaf clover tutorial. Some of you might not celebrate St. Patricks Day or have no use for a four-leaf clover, but still take a look at this tutorial. This tutorial combines some good techniques. You will Divide, Transform, and add Warping Effects. These techniques will help you quickly and easily create with Illustrator!


This tutorial was created with Illustrator CS3. But these features should be available in all CS versions.

Keyboard shortcuts are displayed in orange. ⌘ is displayed for the Command key (mac), with the Ctrl key being the Windows equivalent (not displayed).

Step 1: Creating the Leaf Shape

First, draw a circle with the Ellipse Tool (l). Select the circle with the Selection Tool (v) and hold down the Alt Key (copies the selected object) and the Shift Key (snapping object into place). With these keys pressed, drag out another copy of the circle. Select both circles and Add and Expand them from the Pathfinder Panel.

Create a Circle and Copy

With the Direct Selection Tool (a), select the bottom anchor point where the circles intersect. With the anchor point selected, drag it downward, roughly double the length of the combined circles. With the anchor still selected, Convert it to a Smooth anchor point from the Control Panel. Next, use the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and delete the anchor points on the left and right side of the anchor point you just dragged out.

Modify Anchors

Now it is staring to look like a leaf, but it needs some color. Before adding color, we will divide the shape into two objects. With the Line Segment Tool () draw a line roughly in the middle of the leaf shape. Select both shapes and press the Horizontal Align Center in the Align Panel. With both objects still selected, press the Divide button in the Pathfinder Panel and Ungroup (shift ⌘ g) both of these shapes by going Object > Ungroup.

Draw Line and Divide

Select one of the shape and create a Radial Gradient from the Gradient Panel. Use a light green and a darker green for the swatches in the gradient. Use the Gradient Tool (g) and click and drag from the top right of the shape to the bottom left. Use the same Radial Gradient and gradient adjustments for the other leaf.

Add Gradient

Step 2: Transforming

One leaf is done, but we need three more. We can just repeat the first step three times, but that would take to long. This is where the Transform Effect comes in handy. Select both sides of the leaf and Group (⌘ g) them. Next, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform to bring up the Transform dialog. In the Transform dialog change the Copies to 3, Rotate 90 degrees, and click the bottom center point in the 9-Point Proxy (the box with nine points above the Random check box). Now the clover has four leaves. It is a good idea to go Object > Expand Appearance. If you don’t expand the clover, the next time you try to rotate it, you will get some undesired results. Next, comes the stem!


Step 3: Stem

Draw a rounded rectangle the size you want your stem with the Rounded Rectangle Tool. Next, go Effect > Warp > Arch. In the Warp Options dialog, make the Bend 20% and the Horizontal Distortion 40%, while keeping the other options the same. After, go Object > Expand Appearance. Give the stem a Linear Gradient from the Gradient Panel with the swatches being darker greens than the clover leaves. Rotate the leaves and stem into the desired position and your done!

Stem Warp and Adjust


Like, I said before, you don’t need to create a Four-Leaf Clover to utilize these functions. The Transform function is a great place to experiment. Try different angles, dimensions, copies, or points on the 9-Point Proxy. The Warp Effects are great for creating consistent shapes, and can be used almost anywhere. And don’t forget the Divide! It is a great way to create multiple object from a single object. St. Patricks day is coming in a couple of days, so those of you that don’t have time to create a Four-Leaf Clover, hop on over to iStock and buy a Shiny Four-Leaf Clover.

Shiny Clover

Purchase Illustration From This Post

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29 thoughts on “Create A Four-Leaf Clover

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  2. I’m a Freehand user and i’m learning illustrator now, and tutorials like this help me a lot. Thanks, and keep the good work!

  3. I have a quicker method, if you illustrate a Shamrock, which is the unofficial badge of Ireland, you’ll only have to do three leaves.

    The leaf is linked to St Patrick because he likened the three leaves of the Shamrock to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son & Holy Ghost.

    Just thought I’d offer up my two cents :)

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  5. Using CS2:

    For some reason, when I divide, it divides the top and bottom, not the sides :( I’ve tried from scratch again and got the same result.

  6. Great tutorial! I just would ask you if can use your clover as a blog image -it’s pretty, so so much!- If not, thanks again but I don’t think could find another such your.

  7. I’m VERY new at this. Great exercise. Thanks and I look forward to more. And good point by DaveG. I guess that G stands for Guinness.

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