I'm trying to create a colour wheel in Illustrator. I have created one (two actually but they both produced the same result), but it looks a little rough.

I've attached an image to this post you can see my starting point, how I've created the divides and also the result, where you should see the problem I'm having.

My original 12 segment wheel was created using a circle, then a line without a stroke running through the centre of the circle. I then rotated this line 60degrees and repeated until I had the 12 segments. I then used Pathfinder > Divide to break the segments apart.

If you look at the end result, you'll see how I now need to break up each segment into multiple parts to display different shades/tones.

To do this I created multiple circles/rings (in red) overlaid on each other. Each circle was created using Object > Path > Path Offset, using multiples of 5mm for consistency. I then overlaid the 12 segment colour wheel on it and with both selected used Pathfinder > Divide again.

This creates the segments within segments I need, but definition is lost. There seems to be gaps, overlaps throughout the final version. I've tried creating this from scratch again, making sure everything is centre but I got the exact same result. Can anyone help me with this? What's the best way to do achieve this effect? I'm positive there has to be away, I see elements like this quite often!

Thanks for you help, Steve

Colour wheel progress


The following method uses the Polar Grid Tool

I would use the Polar Grid Tool (shortcut is "\"). Use the up and down arrows to create segmented lines and use the left and right arrow keys to set the number of times the circle is divided.


You can set a stroke if desired or leave as none. After you create the shape. You can go to Object -> Image Paint -> Make. I then found a set of colors for the outside and painted the whole area like that. Tip: Click and then hold shift to color multiple areas at once, just drag over the other areas.

divide color

Then expand the selection, Object -> Expand. Use the direct select tool to select each row and lower the transparency or change the color directly. For my example I just set each row minus 15%.


and if you started with a stroke

divide strike result

  • Thank's this was great! I never thought about using the Polar Grid Tool (I don't think I ever have). I had various different shades/tones for each colour, which were overlaid with opacity on black or grey backgrounds to do so. Instead of duplicating the Polar Grid with the black/greys set. I just created a liner version next to the Circle and used Flatten Transparency so I could use the Eyedropper to grab each colour and paste it onto a segment. Which'll be easy for using the colour values in practice too! – user1406440 Jul 23 '15 at 8:11

First, segment circle into 12 & convert to live paint. Fill with CMYK values (I used this website for ref.).

Next, add your concentric circles. What I did here was to create twice as many & paired them up with Pathfinder-> Minus-Front. I then filled half in black and the inner half in white, and then graded the opacity accordingly (ensuring I left one unfilled centre circle). Shown below with colour background for clarity:

Put black & white infront of the colour-wheel & you're done (I added star mask as black area far exceeds white if left as disk):

You can then do things like Object -> Flatten Transparency & use eyedropper tool if you want to use the colours to create swatches, etc.


If you want "gaps" between the colours, before you Flatten Transparency, add some level of opacity temporarily to centre circle (pure colours) and outer circle (black). Then Flatten Transparency, and refill centre colours & outer blacks. You can then simply add stroke as desired:

and if you need true gaps, Path -> Outline Stroke, and then Pathfinder -> Merge, select what was the white stroke in layers palette & remove fill. Star will then consist of colour parts only, separated by gaps as large as needed.

... Of course, you could get really rediculous with the whole thing ...

  • Thanks for the reply, I could really do the with white/black layers being underneath. As I use some transparency filters as well. So I need to break the coloured segments up. Do you think that is causing the problem? Or do you think something is wrong with the way I've approached or executed what I've tried to do? – user1406440 Jul 7 '15 at 15:52
  • @user1406440 it might be easier putting black & white layers on top & using solid colours underneath, but without seeing your approach, it is difficult to tell. Try with black & white layers on top & see if you get any results that way. – martin Jul 7 '15 at 19:56
  • @user1406440 the other alternative is not to use any opacities at all - just copy image of, say Itten's colour star, and use live paint to sample colour & fill your own copy :) ... another alternative is to try & find out the exact RGB / CMYK values - note that the results will probably look very different. – martin Jul 7 '15 at 21:00
  • Thanks for that, I agree that would be a good way of managing the situation. Unfortunately the person I'm doing this for wants it the other way ...and they're quite stubborn on the matter haha! I'll keep at them. Ignoring the opacity, is there a way to overlay lines on the circle so it can be cut into segments without causing gaps? – user1406440 Jul 9 '15 at 8:44
  • 1
    Thanks a lot, using Live Paint really helped. I joined the circles/lines then used Live Paint to colour each segment. I basically had a swatch which had all my colours with the opacity/black overlays and flattened the transparency so I could use the Eyedropper to grab the colour and paint it in. – user1406440 Jul 23 '15 at 8:06

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