How is a multiple circle pattern like this created in Illustrator?

How can I create the circles with cut outs and then filled with color?

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I started by making a bunch of circles one on top another, and then adding a line with a rotation and using Pathfinder's Divide to separate them into shapes, I had multiple issues...

It was very hard to get the circles spaced properly - I had to sorta guestimate it:

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Using pathfinder left me with a bunch of extra paths:

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(click to enlarge)

...and some weren't properly cut: (that's one path :/)

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Even after (manually) cleaning up all the paths, It was a huge pain to select each shape and then go to my swatches panel and pick something.

I'm sure that there's an easier / more efficient way to go about doing this, please guide me.


2 Answers 2


Start with using the Polar Grid Tool (Hold down on the Line Tool to switch)

Click in the Artboard and a little menu will come up:

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  • You want to set the Concentric Dividers to a lower number (5)

  • And the Radial Dividers to a significantly higher number (40)

This will output a Radial grid which looks like:

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Now comes the coloring, YAY!

For my original method, see below, to see a new, easier and improved method of accomplishing this, see my answer here.

Select it and use the Live Paint Bucket Tool to fill it with colors:

  • Create a color group with all the swatches you'd like to use

  • Just click on all the parts you'd like to fill and use the arrow keys to change colors (see GIF below):

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Repeat this step and change colors until desired look is achieved, then just go ahead and make the stroke and fill of rest of the boxes set to none* (/) - this will give you the easy freedom to go and change them later on.

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*Unless using for Laser cutting / vector printing, then you have to delete those paths, because the printer will still read them (regardless of visibility).

  • 1
    Actually atleast epilog lasercutters ignore the nonfilled paths
    – joojaa
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 5:11

It's elementary, probably too elementary because it's not already written altough surely well known:

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Make a polar grid (see Photoshop's documentation for it's parameters). Select it and fill the needed areas with live paint bucket. You can change the fill color during the work. Finally Goto Object > Live paint > Expand. Ungroup (you need several ungroupings) and remove the unwanted parts.

It can be better keep the parts grouped and to hide the unwanted parts in the layers panel until you are 100% sure.

Shape builder is already mentioned. It does the same final result, but live paint bucket saves the original grid. It gets broken with the shape builder.

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