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How can I calculate the necessary transformations to construct circular path and maintain the pattern? Can anyone provide me with or reference to relevant resources? Thanks!

2 Answers 2


You could use a polar grid, and a grid of vertical lines snapped to the edge of each circle, then use the shape builder, delete the outer vertical lines, and fill in the chequered pattern.

For example

Making the grids, and using the shape builder to delete the outer lines

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Using the shape builder to create the pattern

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  • Your step-by-step explanation using a polar grid and the shape builder tool is incredibly insightful. It's a brilliantly simple method I wouldn't have even considered. Do you have any recommendations for resources or books that delve into these kinds of techniques? I'm eager to expand my understanding of design principles, especially in the way you've demonstrated here. Learning more about how different elements and forms can be constructed and manipulated in design would be extremely beneficial. Thanks again for sharing such a clear approach!
    – DesignName
    Nov 13 at 15:34
  • Youtube is good resource for learning how to draw specific things in Illustrator.
    – Billy Kerr
    Nov 14 at 23:50

I'm afraid there's no single nor 2 click effect available for the wanted effect.

As already said by others it can be got by dividing a set of concentric circles with vertical lines and by filling half of the areas which are formed by the intersection.

Filling the areas with the shape builder may take while, if there's say 30 circles an 60 vertical lines, but there's another approach for faster result. Essentially it also divides concentric circles with vertical lines, but it needs less clicks.

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In the left there's a white and a grey rectangle aligned side by side . Both rectangles are exactly 4 mm wide. A duplicate is made and rotated 180 degrees.

Both rectangle pairs are dragged to the swatches panel. It generates 2 fill patterns which are otherwise the same, but white and grey are in the opposite places.

There's a set of concentric circles. The smallest one is 8 mm wide, the next is 8 mm wider, the next is 8 mm wider (etc) and the biggest one is 80 mm wide. As well one could say the circles are concentric, but their radiuses are 4,8,12,16, 20, 24, 28, 32 36 and 40 millimeters. The largest circle is in the bottom of the layering order and the smallest is on the top.

The easiest way to get these circles is the polar grid tool. The grid should have with and height = 80 mm and have 9 concentric dividers.

In Illustrator Blending is the other easy way to get numerous modified copies of a shape, but the polar grid is perfect just in this case. The circles must be ungrouped. It must be done twice to get them all free. The layering order becomes right by default.

The circles which have widths 80, 64, 48, 32 and 16 mm are selected in the same time (hold shift and click he wanted ones). They all got the first fill pattern. The rest of the circles got the second fill pattern. The strokes are removed.

This method has 2 drawbacks:

  1. You must select all circles and move them to the left edge of the artboard to force the fill pattern to start at the edge of the largest circle. Illustrator relates the fill pattern to the artboard. To make the shapes freely movable the fill pattern must be expanded (Object > Expand > Fill)

  2. After expanding the fill this is still a bunch of circles. They must be grouped to keep then surely together. In addition the circles are clipping masks for a big bunch of white and grey rectangles. Many of us will not want to have such burden behind the curtains, because it shows its existence as soon as the mouse hovers over it (an outline ghost) and it's not a path which could be used as a path in other effects.

It looks right, but it has a massive invisible complex behind the visible part. There's no easy way to convert the internal structure of the result to as simple as what's got with the shown shape builder method.

Definitely not asked and not useful in this case, but check the next Illustrator functions 1) Art Brush 2) Pattern Brush 3) Scatter Brush. They all offer ways to make a pattern to follow a curve, but differently. If they happen to be new things for you, you will probably soon find ways to utilize them. I believe even GDSE contains hundreds of them.

  • Thanks a lot for this explanation! I played around with your example today, along with the advice from the previous comment, and it worked perfectly. Has opened my eyes to new possibilities in Illustrator. I'm now interested in diving deeper into this type of geometric and pattern-based thinking. Do you have any recommendations for books or resources that could help sharpen these skills further? I've been wanting to improve my understanding of geometry and pattern design in a creative context, but I'm not quite sure where to start with this mode of thinking.
    – DesignName
    Nov 13 at 17:39
  • YouTube and many other sites are full of "how to draw this" tutorials. GDSE is one of them., no matter many users would like to see something finer. "What is this font" or "What's the name of the style of this drawing" are not such finer questions. Try at first to to work along some Indian and Arabic style pattern drawing tutorials. Another way to see a pattern is to imagine it as an obscure 3D item. Your example could well be a headache causing tunnel. How to insert the extras which create the illusion of 3D depth is an area worth checking. I do not have any recommendations of books.
    – tapesmoke
    Nov 13 at 21:57

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