Deke’s Techniques: Creating a pattern of unique inset circles

Published by | Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

In this week’s installment of Deke’s Techniques, Deke shows you how to create a pattern of morphing, color-changing inset circles inside Adobe Illustrator. We’ll do this by blending multiple groups of circles. Then we’ll blend and re-blend those groups to get a couple of different iterations of the effect. To get started, follow along with Deke in this week’s free video and use the companion text below to help with each step.

If you’re a premium member, you can use the exercise files Deke provides with the course, or simply use the instructions he gives in the first part of the video to create your own exercise file.

1. Create the first circle and click a sample in the Swatches panel to apply the fill color of your choice. Tip: When you hover your mouse over the swatch, the rollover gives you the CMYK values for that color. Deke chooses a light green color (C= 20 M=0 Y=100 K=0) for this step.

2. Double-click the Scale tool to open the Scale dialog box. Change Uniform to 90% and click the Copy button to duplicate the circle. Add a white fill to the new circle.


Using the Scale tool in Adobe Illustrator


3. Open the Scale dialog one more time and create a 68% reduced copy of the circle, and fill it with the sample color you selected in step 2. This is your first set.

4. Choose the Selection or Black Arrow tool and double-click the outermost or largest circle to open the Move dialog box. Dial in a horizontal position of 524 points, and change the vertical position to 0. Click Copy to duplicate the circle in the upper-right corner of your composition.

5. Change the fill color of the circle to a shade of the same hue you selected in step 2. Scale it by 50%, making another copy, fill it with white, and then scale that copy by 62%, and make this smallest interior circle the same shade as the outer one.

Adjusting the scale of your object.

6. Select the largest circle and copy it to the lower-right corner of the composition. Fill it with yet another shade of the hue. Create two smaller versions of the circle, and make the middle circle white and the interior the same color as the largest circle. Press Cmd+G (Mac) or Ctrl+G (Windows) to group this set of circles.

7. Marquee-select the circles in the upper-right corner, press Cmd+G (Mac) or Ctrl+G (Windows) to group them, and move a copy to the lower-left corner. Group any remaining ungrouped sets of circles.


Select the original group of circles and copy them


8. Now that you have four copies of grouped circles, it’s time to blend them.

Marquee-select the two groups on the top half of the document. Choose Object > Blend > Make. This creates multiple copies of the circles.


Create multiple copies of the circles


9. Choose Select > Inverse to select the other two circles. Then choose Object > Blend > Make to blend these two groups.

10. Double-click the Blend tool icon to open the Blend Options dialog box. Change Spacing to Specified Steps and reduce the value to 10.

Checking the spacing of our circles

11. Break up the blends by choosing Object > Expand. Select Object and Fill from the Expand dialog box and click OK. Now you have two groups of circles that can be blended vertically.

Expanding the object

Tip: You may want to copy your circles layer before breaking up the blends, in case you want to revisit or change your work.

12. Marquee-select the two groups and choose Object > Blend > Make again.

13. Change the blend spacing to 7 steps, as shown in step 9.


The final image


This technique produces a simple but elegant pattern of circles here inside Illustrator. Members of can check out the next movie in the series, Changing a static blended color scheme, and learn how to change the colors of this pattern, which, unfortunately, won’t happen automatically with the Blend command. Then tune in at the same time next week when Deke shows how to create another pattern: an undulating moiré-like effect.

Members of can view all the past installments of Deke’s Techniques in our library.

Suggested courses to watch next:

• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate

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