Deke's Techniques 523: Adding Gradient Overlays to Your Mobius Strip in Adobe Illustrator

Adding Gradients to Your Mobius Strip in Illustrator

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke applies gradient overlays to last week's true möbius strip project. This complex set of four gradients, repeated three times, provides the formerly flat strip with a ribbonesque volume.

The process involves isolating one of the three sections of the strip, then creating a series of overlapping custom gradients that can be repeated in the other sections. As a wordsmith for whom shading is one of the secret mysteries of artists, I'm mesmerized by this optical illusion:

One-third of the set of gradient overlays in Illustrator

Which, when spread out to the other sections is gorgeous all by itself, even though its sole purpose is to add depth to the layers below:

The full gradient mobius strip

And here's what it does when applied over the final result of week's project:

The final möbius strip created in Adobe Illustrator

Remember, if you missed any of the steps in last week's exclusive movie, you can get a free 10-day trial by heading to

Deke's Techniques, adding magical if illusory volume to your mind-bending mathematical möbiuses.

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Deke's Techniques 521: Creating an authentic Möbius strip in Adobe Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 521: Creating an authentic Möbius strip in Adobe Illustrator

In this week's free Deke's Techniques movie, Deke revisits creating that Möbius strip in Adobe Illustrator that he did back in Episode 328. Why you ask? Well, apparently, one of the things that's been keeping Deke up at night is that his virtual creation wasn't a "real" Möbius strip. He's Deke. This obsession does not surprise you.

So this week, he sets out to try it again. Using an intricate, but relatively easy-to-follow, set of steps in Illustrator; exploiting the Transform command, the Blend options, the Show Center icon, the Outline Mode, and the Rotate tool (to name a few); and using his dekeBrain in that way that he does, he arrives at this infrastructure for the new, improved Möbius:

The outline of a new improved mobius strip in Adobe Illustrator

What, you say? That's just a hexagon with some line patterns on it? Where is your imagination, my dekeMaticians? Well, if you're a member of (or you exploit this free 10-day trial offer at, Deke's got an exclusive movie this week in which he shows you how to fill in this form with the often underestimated Live Paint feature.

Using Live Paint to fill in a möbius strip outline in Adobe Illustrator

Deke's Techniques, always ruminating over virtual mathematical constructs (and making sure they're brightly colored as well!) Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 519: Creating a Pattern in Adobe Capture

Deke's Techniques 519: Creating a Pattern in Adobe Capture

In this week's free episode of Deke's Techniques, Deke introduces you to the wonders and idiosyncrasies of the new Patterns maker in Adobe Capture---a mobile app associated with Adobe CC that lets you, well, capture colors and shapes from your mobile world.

A pattern based on bathroom tile and cabinetry from Adobe Capture

Now, at first glance, I have to say my reaction to Deke's pattern obsession was, "Uh, that's a kaleidoscope phone app. Cool, I guess." But after seeing some of the creations, I had to amend my opinion to, "That's a very cool kaleidoscope app." And after seeing this week's movie, I'm starting to get that it's more than that.

Deke begins the movie in true dekeDive geek fashion, by figuring out what each of the Patterns options in Capture actually do to the image you start out with. Here are the basic templates for patterns that you can create:

The pattern options in Adobe Capture's Patterns generator

Using a gradient, a house shape, and a capital letter R, Deke shows you what each of those schematics actually means when they're applied by Capture to an image:

The Adobe Capture patterns as applied to a letter R.

Which leads to all kinds of possibilities. The pattern at the top of this post is based on a snap of our bathroom cabinet and floor. Here's a pattern based on cuttlefish eggs:

Cuttlefish eggs turned into a pattern in Adobe Capture

And here's one based on the origami flower Deke created in Illustrator during Episode 384.

Origami flower turned into a pattern in Adobe Capture

You can also see how to blend away the seams, as in this pattern that features a grid of yellow ribbon eels.

Ribbon eel pattern from Adobe Capture

Patterns go off to live in your CC Library, where they can efficiently become part of your more elaborate CC-based projects. If you've got a Creative Cloud subscription, you can download Adobe Capture wherever you usually obtain your mobile apps, then use your CC credentials to get going.

Deke's Techniques, bringing you a whole new reflection on your everyday world. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 518: Cast 3D Font Shadows in Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 518: Cast 3D Font Shadows in Illustrator

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke creates cast shadows for some colorful 3D-style letters in Illustrator.

Namely, he begins by riffing off last week's episode on chromatic type with these chunky, decorative Zebrawood-set letters:

Zebrawood-set letters with color added

And turns them (and the "blocks" that they sit upon) into full-fledged shadow-casting objects.

Three dimensional letters with cast shadows in Illustrator

The trick here is to capture the outline of the letters, offset it, then use the Transform effect to create the shadow (which is really just a 50% opacity fill repeated many---160, in fact---times down and to the left. For example, the red selection here is the the unfilled outline for the number 9 around which these "shadows" proliferate:

The outline is offset then duplicated to make the "shadow"

You can see how it all works in the video without having to bend your brain around faux-wood blocks of letters.

Deke's Techniques, casting fabricated shadows to make your message more virtually substantive! Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 516: Create Chromatic Type in Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 516: Create Chromatic Type in Illustrator

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke creates an old-school chromatic type effect in Adobe Illustrator. This printing with multiple colors has been around since the wood type days in the 19th century, and thus it was an obvious target for Deke to bring to the digital age. Especially given the delightfully absurd (and thus deke-like) word choices used in the samples, like this one from Wm. H. Page in 1874 (courtesy of the Public Domain Review).

Chromatic type from 1857


Deke's begins with some slightly less evocative---but no less deke-like---language, which he sets in Adobe Copal (a font available in CC via Typekit).

So What, set in Copal type


Copal has a decorative variant as well as an outline version, both of which are useful for this exercise.

The Copal font has a Decorative variant

Using copies of the font in its Decorative and Outline forms allows for copious decoration, colorizing, and adding customized drop shadows to various parts of the letter forms. After adding a layer of texture, here's the result:

A chromatic font effect applied in Adobe Illustrator


And of course, unlike the wood-based typesetting of the 1800's, Illustrator allows for immediate adjustment of the colors to suit your mood.

Changing the colors of your chromatic type effect in Illustrator


If you're a member of, Deke's exclusive movie this week covers how to create a similar effect in Photoshop, which allows for the addition of a photographic background and requires using layer effects and a mask (or two) to create your chromatic text.

A chromatic type effect in Photoshop

If you're not a member, you can get a free 10-day trial by signing up a

Deke's Techniques, bringing 19th century typographic art into the future! Read more » 

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