I am interested to find a proper way of reproducing the below line art example. What I've tried:

-I've created two layers with paralel lines with different widths using Blend/make option.

-Using the Object tool, I've created a circle, used as a clipping mask over the top layer.

The problem is that I can't achieve the round thick line endpoints like we have in the source example. Any thoughts?

enter image description here enter image description here

3 Answers 3


The trick is to use shape builder tool (Shift+M). Shape builder allows you to eliminate lines without expanding something that pathfinder is totally unable to do. Do this:

  1. Draw mask
  2. Make your lines.
  3. Duplicate the lines (to different layer perhaps)
  4. (Expand duplicate if you used blend tool)
  5. Select duplicate lines and mask shape, then alt drag a line cutting the outer lines. Apply the remaining lines with a thicker stroke.

enter image description here

Image 1: Time lapse of sequence (mask was drawn after step 4)

enter image description here

Image 2: result with round caps. Time 2 minutes. Now I must sleep.

Now since the ends are lines you can define custom line ends for what kind of transition you want. One can go quite wild with the implementation since it is relatively fast to do. So even complex shapes are viable.

More elaborate effect

Image 3: A more elaborate effect for fun.

  • It looks fine but unfortunately, I can't reproduce it. Something went wrong and I can't find in your 1-5 steps shape builder tool part :) Can you please post a workflow printscreens when you have a few moments please? thanks
    – user124853
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 21:54
  • 1
    @user124853 added timelapse. Shape builder is not available in older Illustrators than CS5 or so. If your illustrator don't have shape builder then your only other option is to split curves by hand.
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 8:25
  • thank you for your tine, patience and answer, there is no doubt that this is the right answer. I'll upvote and as soon as I'll arrive at home, I'll try that. The same procedure for ampersand or there are additional steps involved? lovely result.
    – user124853
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 9:20
  • 1
    Yes except the strokes have width profiles on them. And it has been super sampled by 16x16 pixels in PS
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 9:52
  • 1
    Not for print... But sometimes you have fine details that need captured in detail like here and the super sampling illustrator does with art optimized is not sufficient. For more info read this.
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 10:47

Use the circle and clipping path you have as a stencil, but then use the rectangle object tool and trace them over the lines. This way you'll be able to introduce rounded corners to the rectangles and get those exactly as you like.

  • Thank you for your answer. By tracing them, do you mean .. one by one by hand? not so sure I understand :)
    – user124853
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 17:41

Instead of using a clipping mask, I would simply divide the set of thicker lines with the circle (either using Pathfinder or the shape builder tool) and set your strokes to use round endpoints. That should do the trick!

  • Is it too much if you show your workflow in pintscreens please? what I've done: Select all lines/Object>Expand, Elipse tool>Circle, Select all, Pathfinders>Divide and I have a circle with lines inside ...is that what you are trying to explain? :)
    – user124853
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 18:04
  • I will try to add later when I have more time but I would not expand the lines, just keep them as strokes. Once they are divided with the circle, you can use the white arrow to remove the parts you don't need.
    – curious
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 20:35

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