Deke’s Techniques 103: Creating a Custom, Entirely Accurate New Year’s 2013 Calendar in Illustrator

Well gang, it’s been a couple of weeks since I last talked to you. But I have to admit, I enjoyed the break. My youngest son, the aspiring actor, rocked it in a play called Rose Red. (Delivered to the eponymous character, his line “Gadzooks! You are a wild youth!” brought down the house.) My eldest, the occasional musician, sailed through his piano recital with a breathtakingly perfect rendition of Beethoven’s “Für Elise.” (Which is somewhat amazing considering how much it sounds like a baseball bat hitting a squeezebox in the back alley of a pachinko parlor during practice time.) Plus, we celebrated the rare white Christmas, which is always a nice touch.

I could go on: My boys and I played games, read books, saw movies, entertained endless ideas, hung après-Xmas lights, clobbered each other, and spent what seemed like a year full of days in a sometimes peaceful, sometimes chaotic realm of imaginative mayhem. Honestly, if I were asked to replay a handful of days for the rest of eternity, I would respectfully decline. But if, you know, some big scary dude got all muscly and made me, these last days would be them.

The upshot is that I return to you in 2013 much as I left you at the beginning of 2012, restored and ready for more. Today, in fact—this very day—I suddenly reappear to show you how to construct a single-artboard, resolution-independent 2013 calendar for the new year. All inside that surge protector of smooth-line vectors, Adobe Illustrator.

Here’s the official description from

This week Deke’s Techniques celebrates the new year by showing you how to create a one-page, full-year calendar in Adobe Illustrator. The idea for using hexagons in calendars was originally inspired by the 2010 oeuvre of illustrator Germán Ariel Berra. But it seems Gérman has moved away from calendars recently. So it’s Deke’s Techniques and Illustrator to the rescue for 2013.

The project begins by drawing a simple hexagon in the upper left area of the artboard using the Polygon tool set to a Radius of 98 points, with a Sides value of 6 (naturally.)

hexagon in illustrator

By default, Illustrator draws its hexagons with a flat side up. So Deke uses the Rotate tool to turn the shape 30 degrees:

rotated hexagon in Illustrator

Since this particular hexagon will eventually become the month of February, Deke sets the fill to a medium blue that he’s chosen to represent that month. He thickens the stroke to 2 points and sets it to white.

Note: You can choose any color you like, as long as it says “February” to you. I’m using the colors that’ve been stuck inside my head since my parents gave me my first cool calendar—with stickers in the back!—likely to have been created in the early ‘70s. It just so happens that I like medium blue for February, too:

hexagon with white stroke and blue fill

Next, Deke duplicates the first stroke and applies a Transform effect at 95 percent scale to give the hexagon a double ring.

hexagon with double white stroke in Illustrator

With the entire hexagon selected, Deke then drags some duplicates into place to complete a row of four. The trick here is to click and drag the top-left point of the original hexagon until you sense it snap into place on the right, holding down the Alt (Mac: Option) key at the end to create a duplicate. After that, you can press Ctrl-D (Command-D) to create duplicates in the correct places. He then sets the colors for March through May according to his taste.

four hexagons in Illustrator

Next, he selects three of the four hexagons, and drags a duplicate row into place. These shapes are colored for June, the year 2013, and July respectively. (Deke and I apparently agree that July is red.)

seven hexagons in Illustrator

Next, the appropriate number of hexagons are copied into place and colored appropriately to finish the entire year:

twelve hexagon calendar arrangement in Illustrator

Now for the months. Deke creates the title for February by selecting the Type tool and clicking inside the “February” hexagon (not on the edge).

adding text in Illustrator

To align the month properly, Deke switches to the Outline view and turns on the shape centers. Then he aligns the February title to the center of its hexagon and drags out copies for the next three months. After changing the text appropriately for each month, he selects all the month text and uses the Black Arrow tool to set them at a distance of -41 points vertically (that is to say, upward). This way, all the months are centered properly and the same distance from the center of their respective hexagons.

outline view of text alignment in Illustrator

If you’re creating this project on your own, rather than using Deke’s files, you can drag copies of the months out to the other cells, position them using the same operations, and retype each of the names. (A year of Februaries would be short and cold and full of too many Valentines Days.)

To make the days of the weeks and the days, Deke employs a very smart and efficient approach that he demonstrates in the second free movie of the week. (It’s like having two Tuesdays in one week, only it’s Wednesday!) In that movie, known in the library as 186: Adding Dates to a Calendar Using Tables, you’ll see how creating a table of text allows you to quickly adjust each month for its appropriate number of days and first day of the week. Here’s my completed calendar with my own type choices and color connotations.

final hexagon calendar in Illustrator

For members of, there’s yet another movie this week in which Deke shows you how to create a pattern of your own particular logo to fill out the rest of the calendar:

calendar of hexagons with logo background

Happy Hexagonal New Year! Deke will be back with another free technique next week.

Note again, that likes to number all the movies whereas I like to only number the free ones that I share here, so to find the second free movie this week, go to the Deke’s Techniques grand master list and look for episode 186.

Nothing more for me to say, really. Except that next week’s technique will result in an infinity symbol that perfectly matches the font Adobe Caslon Pro. Executed with the help of a path outline and the Width tool, once again inside Adobe Illustrator.

Craft an Infinity symbol to match a specific font in Adobe Illustrator

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 104: Crafting an Infinity Symbol to Match a Font in Illustrator

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 102: Creating a Hobbit Movie Logo Effect in Adobe AI and Photoshop


  • curious date

    Is this tutorial really “Submitted by deke on 13 January 2013” ??? smile

  • Nope that was a mistake

    The date has been fixed. Thx!

  • Calendar Tut

    Nice cal tut. I was able to run through it with one exception. When I am in outline mode-add center points to the hex then select the month title, the center points disappear in the hex.Yours appeared to stay on in the tut.Tried to hide bounding box. was able to blindly snap the title in place but was wondering what I was missing to keep the center points on/showing in the hex while aligning the month title to the center point. CS6

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