How can I make perfectly adjacent circles like the following? enter image description here

I tried the above image but when I use the build shape tool, it does not separate the bottom circle properly and joins the entire bottom circle, which I don't want.

  • Welcome to GD.SE!
    – Mensch
    Dec 10, 2021 at 20:36
  • 1
    I don't really grasp the issue. You can simply draw one circle and copy it. Using Outline Mode will assist in getting copies placed correctly. The shape builder issue is another matter entirely and most likely due to the overall construction or stacking order of the circles.
    – Scott
    Dec 10, 2021 at 20:59

2 Answers 2


It's easiest to do this in Outline Mode Ctrl+Y

  1. Draw the first doughnut, the size of the rings doesn't matter. Group and rotate 120 degrees.

  2. With Smart Guides enabled, drop two guides to intersect with this anchor here

enter image description here

  1. Copy and paste a copy of the circles, click and drag the anchor to snap to the intersection of the guides

enter image description here

  1. Copy and paste another copy, and click and drag until it intersects like this

enter image description here

  1. Draw the smaller circle, no need to worry about the exact size. Snap the top to intersect

enter image description here

  1. Click and drag the bottom of the circle while holding Shift until it intersects with the inner circle of the bottom.

enter image description here


You do not get it right by relying on a grid. Use smart guides and snap to point. Turn off all other snaps. They are in the View menu.

enter image description here

  1. Draw with the polygon tool an equilateral triangle. Click on the artboard and set the number of sides =3. Apply Object > Transform > Rotate > 180 degrees to turn it if needed, Hold Shift and drag it to the wanted size without losing the proportions.

Beware: This doesn't work if if your artboard is already full of other stuff or the triangle is tilted. Both of them jam the smart guides and snapping on points.

  1. Draw a circle. Hold Alt and Shift to be able to start from the vertex of the triangle.

  2. Draw another circle like in step 2. With the smart guides you can get it to snap to the 3 o'clock node of the first circle

  3. Make 2 copies of the drawn circles by dragging an holding Alt. Drag the copies from their midpoints to the vertices of the triangle. They snap exactly.

  4. Select the triangle. Apply Opject > Path > Add anchor points. It creates a new node in the midpoint of each side. Draw the new circle to one of the new nodes (hold Shift and Alt, make it snap with the smart guides.

enter image description here

  1. Deselect all. Select the new circle with the black arrow. Hold Ctrl (=take temporarily the white arrow into use) and drag the 12 o'clock node of the new circle to the 12 o'clock node of the bigger bottom circle. The new circle follows if you didn't click anything else with the white arrow. If you did, something can disintegrate. Fix it with Undo.

Do not remove the triangle, switch it OFF in the Layers panel - you may need it later. All circles are separate closed vector paths which can have their own fill color and stroke.

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