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I would like to recreate the effect you see in the attached screenshot in Illustrator. I know about the Blend Tool, but so far I have only been able to create a smooth, regular line consisting of circles, since the Blend-Tool applies the same distance between each circle. Does anyone have an idea how I could create the effect in Illustrator (without having to place each circle by hand)?

Screenshot1

Screenshot2

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    I dont really understand what you mean, sure you can do this with blend tool. Why exactly is that not working for you. Here is a demo with 2 differnet versions with blend tool – joojaa Nov 18 '16 at 12:29
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What isn't instantly obvious is that the distribution of objects is controlled by the bezier curve. Basically, longer handles = larger spacing. Interestingly, here is the exact opposite of your question: Spacing objects evenly on a spine with an open path using the blend tool

You can see here that the circles are bunched together near the smaller handle:

enter image description here

You can see in the following, although the path is (close enough to) identical, the changing handle lengths affect the distribution of circles:

enter image description here

You can even see the effect on a straight line by adding some handles to the end points and moving them along the line:

enter image description here

Controlling the distribution of objects with the blend tool and bezier handles is awkward at best though, another option...

Use a scatter brush and pen

A better option, although it requires a graphics tablet with a pressure sensitive pen, is to use a custom brush.

Draw a single circle, drag it to the Brushes panel and select "Scatter Brush" from the new brush dialog. Set "Spacing" to pressure (or some other variable) and set a minimum and maximum.

enter image description here

You can then draw your paths with the brush tool and control the spacing with your pen pressure. You can adjust the minimum an maximum after drawing to adjust the spacing.

enter image description here

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