Deke’s Techniques 199: Creating a Pattern of Size-Changing Circles in Illustrator

199 Creating a pattern of unique inset circles

Hello, fellow gangsters. This week is remarkable is three regards: First, I’m actually writing my own Deke’s Techniques post. (Colleen wrote the last two. But in all fairness, I helped out.) Second, I just today finished recording the last movie in the final course of my four-part Photoshop video opus for, which will be titled Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Mastery. (Lynda doesn’t like us making promises, so I can’t assure you that it’s coming out any time soon. But it is.) And third, in this week’s episode of Deke’s Techniques, we’re back in Illustrator, which I’ve really been grooving on lately.

I know, you photographers hate it when I visit Illustrator. But in case you haven’t received the memo, I’m a graphic artist and I really like to draw. (Did I mention that photographers are sissies because all they do is point and shoot a camera? No I didn’t. Which is a good thing because that would’ve seriously pissed off a lot of people.)

Oh, man, no wonder I don’t write more of these things. I’m a liability to myself.

Anywhom, this week, I show you how to create a free-form pattern of size- and color-changing circles inside Illustrator. Which I do by blending between groups, and then grouping those blends, and then blending between those blended groups. Yes, you have to reformat your brain to follow along.

Fortunately, the only thing you have to “draw” is a circle, create a file that measures 612 by 420 points, then make a 43.5-point circle centered at a coordinate location of X: 44, Y: 42. Yowsa, I love this full-on nerd shit.

After that, well, it’s all in the video. Spoiler alert: Here’s the final size- and color-changing circle pattern, as created in Adobe Illustrator:

The amazing size- and color-changing circle pattern in Adobe Illustrator

And it’s all from a single circle! You can draw a circle, right? Well then quit screwing off with your cameras and join in. After all, when you’re done, you’ll have a piece of art that’s worthy of printing on a shower curtain. Try doing that with your high-resolution Ansel Adams homage.

Meanwhile, as a friend of mine pointed out, if you change the colors to red, the circles turn into a bunch of Target logos.

A bunch of Target logos in Adobe Illustrator

Which is great, because I love Target. I hate Walmart. Walmart sucks.

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Previous entry:How to Create Deke’s New Improved Andy Warhol Effect in Photoshop

  • Blending blends

    Hello Deke,

    I discovered that if you make a blend between two extra dummy objects and then manipulate the hierarchy in the layers panel you can replace the two dummy objects with the existing blended rows then modify the blend path to suit.

    It is fiddly but it could save time in the long run…

    Thanks for another great tutorial.

  • Are you’re saying you *can* really blend between two blends?

    Richo, Please tell me more.

    Fiddly is okay. In fact, it can be exceedingly helpful at times.

  • More on blends


    Yes I blended blends successfully, sorry for the vague comment. My steps were:

    * Get to the stage in the tut where you have top and bottom blends complete. Call these blends A and B

    * Use the ellipse tool to drop in 2 more circles side by side around the centre of the document, size irrelevant.
    * Select the 2 new circles and blend them. This is blend C
    * Open up the layers panel and see you should have 3 blends total.
    * Drag blends A and B underneath Blend C (ie as a child of blend C) in the layer hierarchy and delete the circles that were in C originally.
    * Select the Path from blend C and use the path modification tools to fix your new blend into place where you want it.

    * With blend C selected you can also double click the blend tool icon to modify the steps etc without it affecting the steps of the child blends.

    I hope this explains things a bit better.

    Cheers, Richo.

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