National Geographic Cosmic Journeys How could I emulate the paths between/around the planets in this illustration? Inkscape or PS. Thanks!

Edit: I tried using strokes of a circle and unionizing it with a curved line, repeating and then masking the overlapping part to create the overlap effect. I'm trying to achieve the look of the overlapping paths from earth around the various celestial beings such as the moon.

Edit 2: By duplicating multiple spiro swirls and circles, I have gotten thus far: progress.... What is the most efficient to subtract/mask the uneccesary parts of the circles?

  • Can you narrow the question down a little? What feature of the lines do you want to emulate? What have you tried? What's not working for you? – Westside Nov 7 '16 at 16:34
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    PS this would be a nightmare to do. Use Illustrator or CorelDraw Blend tools. Draw the outermost line and the innermost line. Be careful about the point where they break out from the circle, make sure this is tangential. Then blend the required number of times. Then break apart the blend and add colours as needed. – Confused Nov 7 '16 at 16:53
  • Also, make sure you draw the inner line first, then copy it and ONLY modify its vertices (as required) to create the outerline. This way you will have the vertices in the right locations and the blend will behave as it should. – Confused Nov 7 '16 at 16:55
  • You'll also need to do a trim operation afterwards, to get that 'overlap' look. – Confused Nov 7 '16 at 16:56
  • Can you tell us something more about your efforts? For example, in Inkscape have you tried to interpolate two sub-paths (e.g. two spiro swirls)? – Paolo Gibellini Nov 7 '16 at 17:08

This visual effect is not as complex as it can be looking at the first glance :)

As @confused suggested you have to use some kind of Blend tool, for example, in Adobe Illustrator:

  1. Create 2 circles.
  2. Split them with Scissors tool and remove the bottom parts.
  3. Draw 2 curved lines underneath to simulate that curvy tail effect from your reference.
  4. Apply the Blend tool to both pairs of lines - circles and curved lines.
  5. Adjust or crop lines if needed to prevent overlapping lines.
  6. Change colors of lines as you want.

I've created a short screencast to demonstrate the process in action. You can watch it here:


Hope this help you :)

  • Thanks so much. Interpolate is the equivalent in Inkscape and it is exactly what I'm looking for. One thing though...do you know why do I not get clean perfect circles when I interpolate (blend) two concentric circles? – Andrew Nov 8 '16 at 22:18
  • Well I don't see any problems in Illustrator: quick.as/QlrAinr7p . Probably it depends on how perfect shapes are or maybe on some software preferences. Unfortunately, it's hard to say precisely without additional info. – Nekto Nov 9 '16 at 17:59
  • it had something to do with the "Interpolation Method." When the value is 2, it won't work right but 1 does just fine. Thanks! – Andrew Nov 11 '16 at 4:31

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