Deke’s Techniques 039: Creating the Perfect Command Key

In this week’s free installment of Deke’s Techniques, I show you how to create the perfect Command key symbol in Adobe Illustrator. (For those who may not know, the Command key is the cloverleaf character in the bottom-left corner of a Macintosh keyboard.) Which may prompt you to ask, why? After all, the character is available from many Symbol fonts available for both the Mac and Windows. Two reasons: First, this is an altogether intriguing exercise—for experienced users and novices alike—and it may help you navigate your way around all sorts of symmetrical symbols in the future. Second, you can use this technique to make a symbol that matches other characters in a given font. In other words, drawing the symbol yourself provides you with a designer’s degree of control.

Here’s the official description from my video publisher

In this week’s free technique, Deke demonstrates how to create an infinitely looping “Command key” symbol inside Adobe Illustrator. The Command symbol—also known as a Bowen knot, a cloverleaf, or “something interesting up ahead” if you’re traveling through Sweden—has come to rest on that handy modifier key in the lower-left side of the Mac keyboard. If you find yourself often typing up technical instructions, as Deke has been known to do, you may want a symbol that survives the vagaries of font characters by being an actual graphic. Along the way, you’ll get some basic instruction for how to select, copy, and join paths in Illustrator.

It’s a fairly straightforward process, and even an Illustrator-wary student like me can put the technique to work. One observation, which according to Deke most Illustrator users have known since the mid-16th century, when you drag to duplicate in Illustrator, you must start the drag first, then add the modifier keys: Shift (to constrain the angle) and Alt/Opt to duplicate the object. Once you create your symbol, Deke shows you how to give it a 3D treatment as I’ve done below (employing a fashionable raspberry pink in place of Deke’s electric blue.)

The perfect Command key, in 2D and 3D, from Illustrator

If you enjoy creating this symbol and you’re a member of the Online Training Library, Deke has some exclusive videos for drawing other shapes: a house (think “Home” icon), a gear (or “Settings” as we’ve come to be trained), and a play button (aka, a right-pointing triangle within a circle). And of course members always have access to the whole library of Deke’s Techniques.

We’ll see you back here next week with another technique from Deke that’s free to all.

For those of you who may be interested in what those other symbols look like, here they are:

Home, Gear, and Play symbols created in Adobe Illustrator

Let me know if you’re interested in creating other symbols. I’m forever on the prowl for fodder for a future episode of Deke’s Techniques.

Next entry:Bonfire of the Letterforms

Previous entry:The Ingenious Chartwell Font for Making Graphs in InDesign


  • loved your techniques

    Hey Deke,

    I love your techniques on I was wondering if you can do a fallow up on your creating symbols lesson. I am a video editor and I would like to do a shape of a movie clap board. If you can also make the arm of the clap board separate and editable to that I can maybe make it animated that would be a bonus. Thanks for your techniques!


  • Photoshop One-on-One 3D Type Effects

    Hi Deke,

    I have been looking on for the Photoshop One-on-One 3D Type Effects course, was this due for release today or did I miss some info?


  • Hello Deke

    A long time fan of your teachings. They are truly great! Your PS Top 40 are absolutely superb! I have learned a lot from you and I thank you sincerely, as I am an amateur photographer but avid to learn more every day. Having taken many of your courses on, and after seeing what you do in Top 40, I would very much like to know what is your professional and personal opinion on “add-ons”, such as Nik Silver FX. I have done a lot of B/W photo (I even had a darkroom with all the liquids way back when….) and now I have experimented with converting color to B/W using PS which is fine. But again, do you think that using Nik’s products “takes away” from being an “orthodox” (i.e. old fashioned) photographer? Would you consider these ad-ons as for more amateur photographers using the smaller (non DSLR), or better put, would you recommend that serious photographers use these programs? Many thanks in advance for your comments. Congratulations again!

  • That was my understanding

    Looking into it.

  • Photoshop Extended One-on-One 3D Type Effects…

    Hi Deke,

    I guess you’re still trying to resolve the issue of the missing course.  I hope everything is ok.


  • 3D Type Effects

    Comes out Tuesday, October 4. My bad. Will update post.

  • I love it!

    it was pure joy to see how simplified that was… I was thinking of grids, the pen tool, pathfinder and flipping shapes around, it was great to see how much easier it could be if you just work smarter and keep all features in mind and use the relevant ones. Pure genius! More please! The more complex the symbol and the easier its creation the better.

    thank you Deke!

  • Photoshop CS5 Query

    In Photoshop CS5 With Full Screen Mode Shortcuts Are Not Working ? If You Have Solution Of This Problem Than Please Reply me


    Rajesh Vaishnav

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