Colleen’s posting about Mordy’s license plate thing reminded me of a timely newsworthy conversation I’d had with Mordy a few months ago that went something like this:
Me: Mordy, hi.
Mordy: Hi, Deke.
Me: Hey, just curious. Why is it Adobe Illustrator lacks the ability to make interlocking objects?
Mordy: Crazy. Lay it on me.
Me: You know, like the Olympic rings. I want one Olympic ring to loop into, around, and back out of another. Like in the Olympics.
Mordy: Yeah, Illustrator does that.
Me: Which involves one ring being partially in front of and in back of its neighbors.
Mordy: Yeah, Illustrator does that.
Me: Which is, of course, currently impossible.
Mordy: Except for, Illustrator does that.
Me: I don’t think you quite understand. One ring goes down the bunny hole . . .
Mordy: Which Illustrator does.
Me: . . . and the other goes back up . . .
Mrody: Which Illustrator does.
Me: . . . the other bunny hole.
Mordy: It’s called Live Paint.
And then Mordy proceeded to expand my mind. Oh, he didn’t show me rings; that’s not his sport. But here’s what I took away from the conversation:
Step one: Start with some Olympic-like rings
Draw some rings like the ones below. Notice how the blue ring completely covers the yellow one, which completely covers the black one, and so on. This is a byproduct of standard vector-based stacking order. (To download such a file for your own use, right-click Almost_Olympic.ai and choose Download or Save.)
Step two: Convert the rings to a Live Paint group
Select all the rings. Then get the live paint bucket tool (the one that looks like a bucket of paint). If you can’t find it, press the K key. Press the right-arrow key until the color above the bucket appears as yellow. And click the lower of the two areas where the yellow ring intersects the blue one (as demonstrated below). You now have a live paint group.
Step three: Stroke the edges
Double-click the paint bucket icon in the toolbox to bring up the Live Paint Bucket Options dialog box. Turn on the Paint Strokes check box and click OK. Then move your cursor over the right side of the yellow-over-blue region so you get a brush cursor. Use the arrow keys to advance the color above the cursor to black. Click to change the right stroke to black. Do the same for the left stroke (as seen below).
Step four: Set the interrupting strokes to None
Hover your cursor on the stroke below the boxed-in yellow area. Press the left arrow key a few times to set the swatch above the cursor to None (the red slash) and click to set the make the top stroke invisible. Then click the stroke above (as pictured below) to make it disappear as well. As if by magic, the blue ring now passes into, around, and back out of the yellow one.
Step five: Fill some more intersections
Click with black, green, and red, respectively, inside each of the lower areas where the remaining rings intersect (per the illustration below).
Step six: Trace the good strokes
You now have three new regions of overlapping color, which I’ll call (from left to right) black-over-yellow, green-over-black, and red-over-green. Each has two areas that need stroking with the brush variation of the paint bucket tool (the one we first encountered in Step three), as follows:
- Set the stroke attributes to black with a 4-point weight.
- Stroke above and below the black-over-yellow region.
- Stroke to the left and right of the green-over-black region.
- Stroke above and below the red-over-green region.
The final action appears below.
Step seven: Set the bad strokes to None
Now to make the strokes that interrupt the overlapping rings invisible. Still armed with the brush variation of the paint bucket, do the following:
- Set the stroke attribute to None.
- Click to the left and right of the black-over-yellow region.
- Click above and below the green-over-black region.
- Click to the left and right of the red-over-green region.
The image below shows the final click.
Step eight: Select all, stroke white
Now to switch all the black strokes for white. Press V to get the standard black-arrow selection tool. Click on the rings to select them. Then change the stroke color to white and the weight to 2-point. The result is the picture-perfect interlocking rings shown below.
The great thing about this technique (adjusted from its original form based on Mordy’s input) is that it results in a very close approximation of true interlocking objects. Try this: Get the white-arrow direct selection tool. Alt-marquee (or Option-marquee) the right edges of the red ring, to get the whole thing, then drag it to a new location. Below is my favorite variation, the large medallion-style Olympic necklace. Note that big modifications may results in stray strokes and gaps. Fix them with the live paint bucket tool.
So, hey, 2x-thx Mordy!
If while trying to follow along with these steps, you have a hitch in your get-along, toss us a comment and I’ll try to get back to you. Remember, there are no stupid questions. Well, yes there are. The question that started off this article, for example. But ask ‘em anyway.
And don’t forget to keep the Olympic spirit alive and stuff. Cuz it’s so important that you do. For the children. And remember, Free Tibet! (With the purchase of another Tibet of equal or greater value.)