I have this simple icon:

enter image description here

And I would like to apply a kind of "dissolve" aesthetic to it, for reference:

enter image description here

However I cannot think of any way to achieve this in a human time-frame. I hope there is some labor-saving approach to break my icon up into blocks, from which point I can delete and move around as desired.


What is the least labor-intensive approach for this technique in AI?

Note: you may assume a black fill (probably will give us a clearer dissolve)

4 Answers 4


This is a start to understand the process. Make your own modifications to achieve the desired effect.

Rasterize the object. (the blurred object is just a test of the effect).

Go to Object > Create Object Mosaic...

Play with the values. Remember to add some value to Tile Spacing.

Now you have a bunch of squares to play with.

See the images below:

enter image description here


You can get part of the way there via Astute Graphic's Phantasm Plug in and Ai's built in Transform Each function.

Base art:

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Select and use Effect > Phantasm > Halftone in the Menu with the Phantasm Plug in Installed. (there is a free trial available for this paid plug in, but it's also one of the few plugins I feel is worth every penny they want).

enter image description here

Note I have the options for the plug in set to Square for the shape.

This results in artwork split into little squares...

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Object > Expand Appearance then Object > Ungroup from the menu.

Then choose Object > Transform > Transform Each from the menu. Tick the Random option and adjust the Move sliders.

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Resulting in random dispersement of the squares... The amount of dispersion depends upon the values of the move sliders in the Transform Each dialog.

enter image description here

From here it's a matter of simply moving things.

I think there's a script somewhere to move objects based on a given point but I'm unable to find anything at this time.

If you use Transform Each in steps you can get some closer results...

enter image description here

Also if you alter artwork and adjust some of the Phantasm settings you can achieve the size variation of the squares. Here, I've added 20% grey stroke to the art before using the plug in. the decreased value causes the plug in to create smaller "dots" for the halftone effect. I also adjusted the curve the plug in uses.

enter image description here

Disclosure: I have no stake or investment in Astute Graphics or their Phantasm plug in. I have however, been given software free of charge from Astute Graphics in exchange for my evaluation and/or opinions.


If you want some kind of disintegrating, the splinters should have random sizes, placements and rotations. That can be achieved easily with a symbol sprayer. You can have a few predrawn splinter shapes. Spray one set to make holes to the main shape. You can make holes with boolean subtract or simply setting the colors = the background color. Then spray another set wit the same color as your main shape has. If it has two colors, spray two sets.

An example:

enter image description here

This is in Inkscape, because I found there is easier to select what I want to spray. The size is randomized in sprayer's options, but I had only one predrawn splinter shape - a circle. Nothing prevents one have more shapes and allow random rotations, too.

Not asked: If you bother to work with high resolution raster image in Photoshop, you can blow splinters out of a shape with displacement map. Let the map have base color = 50% grey (= no displacement) insert to the same map layer splinters which are clipped from a gradient to get varying displacement distances.


Once you get your image broken up into the cubes, you should be able to scatter them with "transform each."

Object>Transform>Transform Each

transform each

Under the move section, add a percentage for horizontal and vertical movement, andn maybe add rotation or scale to make it seem more forceful. Check preview to see how it's looking.

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