I am trying to create a circle in Illustrator with the pattern shown in the image. I tried creating a series of rotated objects then scaling them down and rotating as I go, but that didn't work. I think I need to maintain the height of the concentric rows but shrink the width of the object and add more to compensate for the shrinking width. Hope that makes sense.

enter image description here

3 Answers 3


Option 2: For more uniform alignment of the "pieces"....

Very similar to option one, but no dashed stroke...

  • Draw vertical path

  • Set stroke profile for path
    enter image description here
    (This is a short stroke for this answer. Generally you want the stroke longer than this so the central part with the final appearance is larger.)

  • Choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform
    For these settings I entered 360/60 in the Angle field (Illustrator does the math for me and determines 6° is the angle necessary to fit 60 copies), then I put 60 in the Copies field. And make certain the 9-point origin box is set to bottom middle.

    enter image description here

  • click OK

  • Add twist - Choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Twist
    Here I've used a 80° twist

    enter image description here
    (The twist creates a central circle of sorts... this will be the area with the visual pattern when completed. If this central area is too small, merely make the original path longer, you can do that without redrawing it. The extra parts outside this circle can/will be removed later.)

From here, merely create a series of concentric circles with a black stroke growing in diameter from the center to the outer edge. An easy way to to create concentric circles is via the Polar Grid Tool as described in this answer or this answer.
enter image description here

Any way you want to create concentric circles is fine. A blend would allow you to tweak stroke widths as circles get smaller. So there may be some benefit in a blend.

With concentric circles on top:

enter image description here

This method results in "pieces" that are in the gaps as opposed to the strokes. So they are "holes" not objects. But, they are more uniform overall.

Steps regarding changing these "holes" into actual objects which can be filled/stroked with color follow below.

Everything is still "live" at this point. That means you can go back and change anything easily - Change the original stroke weight or profile, add more copies to the first transform effect, change the twist degree, reverse the direction of the twist (by inputing a negative value for the effect), create different concentric circles, etc.

enter image description here

To turn the "holes" into actual objects...
  • Draw a shape and give it a different color fill (I used a red filled rectangle) and then move it to the back (Object > Arrange > Send to back)

enter image description here

  • Select all
  • Choose Object > Expand Appearance
  • Choose Object > Expand (if you created concentric circles with a blend, you need to do this step twice)
  • Finally tap the Merge button on the Pathfinder Panel

enter image description here

  • Select and delete all the black shapes - to do this quickly, select one black shape with the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow), then choose Select > Same > Fill & Stroke, then hit the Delete key.

enter image description here

  • Then delete all the superfluous shapes around the outside and set the color back to black or whatever you need.

enter image description here

  • Ahh, this is more like what I am shooting for. This should work great! I then want to "crop" the outer portion so that I am left with the tighter inner design. Sep 17, 2023 at 21:27
  • @user2399430 You can use a rectangle as a clipping mask to crop a graphic.
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 19, 2023 at 11:21
  • Lots of great thoughts! Thanks for all the input on this question. It have given me lots of options and ideas for the future. Still a novice with Illustrator so having the detailed steps is great! Sep 20, 2023 at 12:34

Option one: Easy adjustments but not quite as uniform in alignment of "pieces".

Basics for the overall appearance... tweak to fit your needs.

  • Draw a vertical path.
  • Tick Dashed Line
  • Set the stroke weight and the first Dash field to the same amount (i.e. the image below uses a 6pt stroke with a 6pt dash)
  • Choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform
  • Set the 9-point origin box to the bottom middle point
  • Enter 360/x in the Angle field - where x = the number of copies -- Illustrator does the math and determines the angle necessary.
  • Set the Copies field to X. (In my image I used 360/50 and set copies to 50. - if you want "pieces" closer together than what is shown here, use more copies.)
  • Click OK.

enter image description here

.. adding twist...

  • Choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Twist
  • Enter an amount you like....
  • Hit OK

enter image description here

Using a stroke thicker (or thinner) than the dash creates more rectangles than squares....

Thicker stroke results in horizontal rectangles.... 10pt stoke, 6pt dash...

enter image description here

10pt stroke, 4pt dash....

enter image description here

Larger dash than stroke weight results in more vertical rectangles and greater spacing.... 6pt stroke, 10pt dash

enter image description here

it's all still "live" so you can play with stroke weights, dash, gaps, copies, etc., until you are happy.

If a Stroke Profile is assigned to the original path to narrow one end of the stroke, the result is some basic scaling as things get tighter. (note, I didn't really configure the profile specifically for this. I merely chose an existing profile)

enter image description here

You can simply play with the Stroke Settings to get any number of appearance options....

enter image description here

If needed...

  • Object > Expand Appearance will result in a Group of shapes
    (...rather than just the original path.)
  • Then Object > Ungroup will result in all independent little squares/rectangles.

enter image description here

I'm using a legacy version of Illustrator. Chances are high that panels and dialog boxes will merely look different in the version of Illustrator you may be using. However, all the settings, and navigation to those settings, in this answer are still there as of this writing.

  • Thanks very much Scott! I will play around with this a bit. The one thing I will see if I can change is to try to keep the ends of the lines together as they radiate out. That may be more the profile that I need to play around with. Thanks again for the the detailed instructions! Sep 17, 2023 at 21:24
  • Unfortunately, it's the "twist" that causes the end of the paths to not all be in the same place. Option two gets around this slightly better, but it's not perfect either. it may simply take some work after expanding to get the center correct (and I assume there's a lot of superfluous objects around the outside that will be deleted as well.)
    – Scott
    Sep 17, 2023 at 21:30

Here's a simpler attempt than the earlier ones. I do not claim it's more accurate or better for your application.

enter image description here

A) Draw a filled horizontally skewed rectangle. Its shown also in a big size for clarity. The top corner anchors are seleted and moved a little leftwards with the direct selection tool to get a few degrees skewing. As well you can use the shear tool. Drag the shape to the brushes panel. Define it to be a pattern brush. Let it insert some spacing. Here the spacing controller is set to 40%

B) An arc is drawn. Originally it was a circle, but 3/4 of it was deleted with the direct selection tool + DEL. At least 50% of the circle must be deleted.

C) The pattern brush is applied to the circle

D) The width profile is changed to growing, The width tool is applied to the left end to make the width start from zero.

E) A rotated copy is made. The rotate tool is ALT+clicked to the left end (to place the pivot point) and rotate 4 degrees > Copy is selected.

More copies are made by holding ALT+D. 4 degrees means that 90 copes are needed to fill evenly 360 degrees. The result:

enter image description here

You can expand the appearance and ungroup if you want to delete or otherwise edit some area. To make easily symmetric edits its useful to make the edits before making the rotated copies.

If you do not want the dense middle area you can simply place the rotation pivot point away from the left end:

enter image description here

Draw something to the place of the pivot point to be able to find it easily later. I ALT+clicked the top end of the black line segment. Such parts can be closed in the layers panel when they are not needed.

The original image in the question has very poor resolution. But there's at least a black background and the dots are grey instead of cyan. Also looks like they have some thickness - maybe Emboss or Bevel & Emboss in Photoshop or extrusion in Illustrator. Photoshop's Bevel & Emboss is tried in the next image:

enter image description here

  • Thanks for this also. This works just great and I like that I have the brush for future use. Thanks for taking the time to respond! Sep 18, 2023 at 17:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.