Does anyone know how to create these advanced dotted/patterned circles in Illustrator? I know how to make a dotted circle, but these are aligned pretty nicely and have a blend from light to heavy. I'd almost say it's done with a script. See attached image.

edit: The dotted circle is created the way Cai described in his reply - thank you! So the question can be narrowed down to how to create a circle with objects (ex. stars, crosses, triangles) that blend from light to heavy.

advanced circles

  • Hi Eddie B, welcome to GD.SE! I removed the scripting and automation tags from this post since a simpler, more efficient solution has been outlined in Cai's answer. If you still wish to find a solution tat involves scripting or automation feel free to add them back in. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:10
  • graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/56200/… may be of interest as it gives you a LOT of further options.
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:30

2 Answers 2


You could script something to generate these but it's easy enough with a couple of circles, depending on the level of control and precision you need.

This is just a bunch of concentric circles with a dashed stroke set with 0.1pt dashes:

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You can use a width profile to control the size of the dots and simply add a gradient stroke for the color:

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If you need more control of the size you can use the Width Tool. It's harder to finely control the width tool so it would be easier to set the width of a single circle first then duplicate that:

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Custom shapes

If you want custom shapes rather than dots (as two of your examples use) then you could use a custom brush. It's not ideal though.

Either a scatter brush or a pattern brush would work; a scatter brush is better to control rotation, a pattern brush better for spacing—neither will easily allow you to scale or add a gradient though.

The following is using a pattern brush; you can see that the width profile is squashing the stars rather than scaling them and the rotation of the stars follows the path:

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The following is the result of using a scatter brush; the rotation is relative to the page, but we can't affect the scale and the spacing is obviously an issue:

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We can manually adjust the spacing on each circle by selecting "Options of Selected Object..." from the Brushes panel dropdown menu and adjusting the spacing:

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Since we can't affect the scale of the stars through the brush stroke we will have to do it manually. First expand the strokes so that we have distinct objects. We can then create a selection of our stars with the Lasso Tool and scale each using the Transform Each function (Object → Transform → Transform Each...)

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Selecting ever decreasing slices and scaling will give the effect of a gradient of decreasing scale (I've shown 2 selections here but actually did this ~6 times):

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Group the result and add a gradient fill:

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  • Thanks Cai, For the dotted version the width tool did the trick. I've tried to recreate the circle with symbols (ex. stars), but couldn't quite nail it: Pattern Brush: - works with width tool - symbols gets squashed and rotate - better spacing Scatter Brush: - doesn't work with width tool - symbols retain their shape - poorer spacing
    – Eddie
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 20:50
  • @Eddie as I alluded to in my answer, it's not something you can easily achieve with brushes. The spacing and alignment you can work around with some manual tweaking, but I'm not sure there is a way to control the scale.
    – Cai
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 15:09

If you want to rotate custom shapes, you can use the rotate tool and Ctrl+Dcommand. Select the shape you want to rotate, click on rotate tool then click below your shape while holding Alt key. This will place the rotation anchor point of the shape. Then you rotate the selected shape, click copy to make a duplicate rather than displacing the original and finally repeat the action using Ctrl+D command until the shapes make a circle.

Visual example

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