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I am looking for a geometrically accurate way of creating a venn diagram.

Lacking a specific method, I improvised and the circles probably don't overlap like they should. So when I replicate one group 3 times, I get this shape overlap, probably because of the inaccuracy of my method aligning the original circles to each other.

What's a geometric way to build this, preferably in InDesign? thanks

In my image below, I first created the bottom circle, then cut out the dotted section and created a group. I replicated that group twice and kind of manually positioned them to look like a venn, but this resulted in having that highlighted overlap.

enter image description here

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  • How about drawing a circle, rotating it twice by 120 degrees, with an offset pivot? Don’t have my Illustrator at hand to further clarify the steps. Jan 18, 2023 at 22:20

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Illustrator...

  • Draw a circle and note the diameter.
    For the purposes of initial construction using a round integer for the diameter is helpful. Here, I've used a circle of 210pts in diameter. One can always scale or rotate the final result, after the basic figures are constructed.
  • Select the circle and choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform
  • Tick Preview
  • Enter 120° into the Angle field (360°/ 3 = 120°)
  • In the Move > Horizontal field insert a negative, evenly divisible value based upon the circle's diameter. So, I enter 105pts (210 / 2 = 105) Ideally, one would use something like 50%, but relative values aren't viable in these fields for some reason. (At least in the version of AI I'm using)
  • For the 9-Point Origin box click any side point. (Note the Move > Horizontal values I've used here are related to the center right origin being selected. Other origins will require different settings.)
  • Insert 2 for the Copies field.
  • Click OK

enter image description here

Object > Expand Appearance will result in a group of 3 individual circles and "bake in" the effect.


For me personally, who always has Illustrator available, I'd create this in Illustrator, Expand the Appearance, then copy/paste into Indesign. Using the Effect in Illustrator allows one to more easily control the offsets.

For example in Illustrator, if you want less of an inset you can just reduce the Move > Horizontal amount:

enter image description here

(210pt diameter / 6 = 35pts)


Indesign...

Not where I'd normally do this, but it can be done with a few more steps. There may be a couple different ways to accomplish this.

A slightly complex method...

This method creates the 3 circles so they align on middle points and are all 3 evenly divided, similar to the first image in the Illustrator method above.

First, make certain the 9-point Origin on the Transform Panel is set to center right.

enter image description here

  • Draw an even diameter circle (I used 210pts again)
  • Choose Object > Transform > Rotate...
  • Enter 180° and hit Copy

enter image description here

  • Select the original circle again
  • Choose Object > Transform > Rotate...
  • Enter 120° and hit Copy

enter image description here

This should result in the 3 circles. Essentially you rotate the original circle by half a full rotation making a copy to get circle 2. Then rotate the original circle a second time by 1/3 of a full rotation making a copy to get circle 3.
1 first circle (original 360° / 1 = no change), 2nd circle (360°/ 2 = 180°), then 3rd circle (360° / 3 = 120°).

Select both the rotated circles...

  • Choose Object > Transform > Move...
  • Enter an evenly divisible, negative integer into the Horizontal Field
    210pts / 2 = 105pts. So I enter -105pts to move the circles left half the diameter.
  • Click OK

enter image description here

(I did choose Object > Transform > Clear Transformations to reset Indesign bounding boxes at this point.)

enter image description here

Because of how InDesign transformations are all relative to each individual object, if one wants a Venn Diagram that is not a 50% division of the circles, offsets and rotation angles will all change and need to be recalculated. It's simply not as easy to adjust in Indesign.


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  • Such an elaborate answer Scott, yes.. I was aware AI would be easier for this. Sorry for adding my ID remark, which literally expanded your answer. thank you
    – Lucian
    Jan 19, 2023 at 8:03
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    If it was just you and I posting @Lucian I'd have been much more brief, since I know you have strong kung fu. :) It's only more elaborate for random Google drop ins that aren't as knowledgable as yourself.
    – Scott
    Jan 19, 2023 at 10:38
  • i.stack.imgur.com/NdX7j.png mission accomplished
    – Lucian
    Jan 19, 2023 at 10:44
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    Nicely done! ! !
    – Scott
    Jan 19, 2023 at 10:45

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