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 lynda.com:
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.)
If you enjoy creating this symbol and you’re a member of the lynda.com 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:
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.