I want to create a speaker hole pattern like this: enter image description here

But I'm not sure where to start. Can this be achieved without laborious positioning in Illustrator or similar software?

  • It would be trivial to use something like Python to create an SVG with correctly positioned/sized dots, then open the SVG in Illustrator, resave as .ai, and go from there.
    – Superbest
    Jul 9, 2015 at 1:04
  • Trivial is right. Write a polar to Cartesian transform, then nested loops, one stepping radius and the the other stepping angle. In your example the angular step is 9 degrees or PI/10.
    – Peter Wone
    Jul 9, 2015 at 1:45

5 Answers 5


You dont actually specify whether or not the image is something you have generated yourself in TK, have at hand or not. If you already have this code then you can export the TK applications canvas as EPS and open it in illustrator. All you need to do is call canvas.postscript().

If you want to use TK

Simple sample in python 2:

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

from Tkinter import *
import math

def circle(c, x, y, r=10):
    return c.create_oval(x-r, y-r, x+r, y+r, width=0, fill="black")

def draw_circles(c, num, r):
    step = (2.0*math.pi)/float(num)
    for i in range(num):
        x = 400 + r * math.sin(i*step)
        y = 400 + r * math.cos(i*step)
        circle(c, x, y)

main_window = Tk()
main_window.title('Pattern to EPS')
canvas = Canvas(main_window,
                    width=800, height=800, 
                    bg = 'white')

circle(canvas, 400, 400)
for i in range(1, 6):
    draw_circles(canvas, i*8, i*60)


# next line generates a eps file
canvas.postscript(file = "pattern.eps",  width=800, height=800 )

# uncomment next line if you want to see the tk window
# main_window.mainloop()

This results in a file named "patten.eps".

result of pattern.eps

Image 1: Opening the generated EPS in illustrator.

You can do this in extendScript, SVG or directly by writing the EPS program all of which are easy to do (see appendix below for some examples). See following posts for resources:

PS: I dont know if its worth scripting as it takes about 3 minutes to draw them in with help of rotate tool and Ctrl+D

Parametric blend in Illustrator

  1. Draw a circle.
  2. duplicate it.
  3. blend the circles
  4. draw another circle that represents the spine, cut it in one point
  5. Select both blend and circle and do Object → Blend → Replace spine
  6. adjust the number of spheres with Object → Blend → Blend Options... minus one object.
  7. Copy and adjust spne circles size and options. done

one ring

Image 2: One ring with method above

Appendix 1: With manually written EPS

%!PS-Adobe-3.0 EPSF-3.0
%%BoundingBox: 0 0 800 800
%%Title: pattern
%%Creator: joojaa
%%CreationDate:  2015-07-08

/c {newpath 10 0 360 arc closepath fill} def
/cr {
    dup 8 mul 2 dict begin /i exch def /r exch 60 mul def 
    1 1 i {360 i div mul dup sin exch cos r mul exch r mul c} for 
} def

400 400 translate
0 0 c
1 1 6 {cr} for

Appendix 2: ExtendScript example

#target illustrator

var doc = app.activeDocument; 

function circle(x,y) {

function draw_circles(num, r){
    var step = (2.0*Math.PI)/num;
    for (var i = 0; i < num; i++) {
        var x = -200 + r * Math.sin(i*step);
        var y = 200 + r * Math.cos(i*step);
        circle(x, y);

for (var i = 1; i <= 6; i++) {
    draw_circles(i*8, i*30);
  • Thanks - I don't have the tk window, it was just an example of the pattern that I found
    – Tom
    Jul 8, 2015 at 22:36
  • 1
    @Tom Thats why i listed alternatives.
    – joojaa
    Jul 8, 2015 at 22:48
  • 1
    Hah that's awesome, I read somewhere that PostScript is Turing complete but I never saw anyone actually code in it before.
    – Peter Wone
    Jul 9, 2015 at 1:49

I'll add my method, since it seems to me like it's the simplest. Basically, you:

  1. Computationally generate the circles in Python
  2. Render them as a simple SVG file
  3. Open file in Illustrator

Here is the Python script (requires svgwrite and math):

This script has two purposes:

- Simple demonstration of using Python (specifically the svgwrite library) to create an SVG file
- Answer the question http://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/q/56200/21332

# n[x] should give the number of circles at a distance of (x+1)*d from the center
d = 30
n = [8, 16, 20, 20, 20]

r = 7  # radius of each circle

# Calculate the center points of each circle
circles = [(0, 0)]  # There is always one circle in the middle

import math
for i in range(0, len(n)):
    m = n[i]  # m is the number of circle in this "row", i is the number of the row
    for j in range(0, m):  # for each circle...
        phi = 2*math.pi*j/m  # Calculate the angle at which the circle will be

        # Convert polar coordinates to cartesian
        x = d*(i+1)*math.cos(phi)
        y = d*(i+1)*math.sin(phi)

        circles.append((x, y))

# Write circles to SVG
import svgwrite

# Determine correct size of drawing
width = max([c[0] for c in circles])*2.2
height = max([c[1] for c in circles])*2.2

dwg = svgwrite.Drawing('demo.svg', size = (width, height))  # output will be in the same folder as this script

# offsets for shifting all circles so that the SVG can be easily viewed in browser
x_offset = min([c[0] for c in circles])*1.1
y_offset = min([c[1] for c in circles])*1.1

for c in circles:
    adjusted_x = c[0] - x_offset
    adjusted_y = c[1] - y_offset

    dwg.add(svgwrite.shapes.Circle((adjusted_x, adjusted_y), r))

# Save the file

# Print SVG source to console

It will create an SVG file in the directory it's in. You can open this in a browser:

enter image description here

Or in Illustrator:

enter image description here

You should use a bigger Illustrator window than me, though, mine was a bit too small to work with comfortably...

If you can't have Python scripts create files (maybe running this in an online Python interpreter) then simply comment out dwg.save(). The last line prints the contents of the SVG to console, you can paste this into Notepad, then save as my file.svg.

I got carried away and added a few "neat" features, like:

  • Make sure the circles are properly centered, so that circles with negative coordinates don't get clipped when viewing in your browser.
  • Resize the SVG canvas.

You could easily leave these out, since Illustrator doesn't hide objects outside canvas bounds and allows you to resize the canvas manually:

enter image description here


If you don't care about the dots lining up...

You can quickly make something similar to your example in Illustrator using a dashed stroke. To draw the evenly spaced rings easily, I'd use the Polar Grid Tool.

Polar Grid Tool Options Polar Grid Tool result

Then it's just a matter of setting the Stroke on the rings to dashed with gaps that fit your liking:

Stroke Panel Options radiating rows of dots

You can of course fine tune each row to add more dots if needed, just increase or decrease the individual gap value. With the gap box active, you can use your scroll wheel to quickly change the value. Hold Ctrl / Cmd while scrolling to adjust in finer increments

Stroke Panel Options radiating rows of dots

An issue with this method is there might be some overlap in some of the dots:

dot overlap

Those might need to be manually edited if you need them to be perfect. There should be at most 1 overlap per row.

  • 1
    Good one, blend is better for aligning tough
    – joojaa
    Jul 8, 2015 at 16:28
  • 1
    It's a speaker grill, either he's going to silk screen it onto some aluminium and manually drill through each mark in which case a slightly wide mark won't matter or he's going to convert to DXF and use a CNC mill, in which case a slightly wide hole won't matter.
    – Peter Wone
    Jul 9, 2015 at 1:54

If you do care about the dots lining up...

Illustrator's distort and transform effect is perfect for this sort of repeating pattern, but in order to get that exact pattern it will require some tweaking. Start with a dotted line (with 11 dots for your example)

Stroke options pane Dotted line

Add a Transform Effect via Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform...

Transform Effect options radiating rows of dots

You'll notice that the inner rows have too many dots. That's where the manual tweaking comes in, but this should get you far enough to figure the rest out.


Use Inkscape:

  1. Create co-centric guide lines and double click the lines to rotate by equal amount (I used 30 degrees).
  2. Create a series of co-centric unfilled circles manually setting the width and height, and moving them to the center.
  3. Create a filled circle, and copy paste some number of times.
  4. Use the "Rows and Columns" tool to spread them out along a row, with spacing equal
  5. Group the circles, and then rotate them. Finally place them so that the center's line up with the guide intersection.
  6. Copy and paste again.

enter image description here

And the result (using 22.5 degrees to match the OP's image):

enter image description here

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.