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Illustrator Spirograph

Posted on January 14, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Remember when you were a kid? Doing kid stuff like eating paint chips and huffing glue. Do you remember when you got caught doing that stuff and Mom told you to play with something that didn’t make you see Jesus Christ in your Fruity Pebbles? Sometimes she would ask you to play with Spirograph instead.

It seems that the Illustrator team at Adobe got caught with a lot of paint in their mouths because they decided to add the game they grew up with as a little known feature in Illustrator. So now it’s really simple to make these kind of designs free-form and a lot faster than with some plastic gear template.

First, select pretty much any drawing tool: Line Segment, Rectangle, Ellipse, etc. I chose the Star tool. Now drag a star out and while doing that hold the tilde (~) key and the shift key. You will see the edge hinting stick as you drag. When you release, the edge hinting will remain as artwork. The shift modifier allows the shape to be constrained at center. Holding option with the Line Segment tool will allow free movement at center instead of at the end of the line. Holding shift with a circle can make a quick tunnel effect.

The modifiers is what makes this interesting. Try every combination you can think of. If you want to go for extra credit try this finger-cramping configuration. Try starting the shape then pressing the space bar. It will make a trail across the screen. If  you have a star going it becomes a shooting star. Go ahead, make a wish, you paint-licking dreamy-dreamers.

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