I want to make a field of dots.


  • Dots should be randomly placed
  • I want to specify the density of dots (e.g. 10 dots per inch, 40 dots per inch, or 20%, 60%)


  • Dots should not touch
  • I can replace dot with other shapes.

Essentially I am looking for an equivalent of the scatter brush for fill.

Best approach so far

  • Make a grid of dots in Illustrator, using + D to accelerate the grid-building.
  • Select all and use Transform Each: set the horizontal and vertical movement to half the gap between dots (so that the dots can never overlap, and tick Random on.

This generates a somewhat random field of dots (or any other object) but isn't entirely successful:

  • The result is still very grid-like. The dots (pips?) aren't perfectly aligned, but they are still in loose rows and columns. (If I loosen my requirement that dots don't touch, I can set a movement radius larger than the gaps and these columns disappear.)
  • Also, while the math is pretty simple to determine the density of dots, ideally I would only have to enter my desired density and the computer would do that math. This would allow for more experimentation.

I have also tried the Symbol Sprayer but this is even less precise.

I am hoping to do this in Illustrator; SVG or any other free vector approach would also work.

  • Here's a commercial plugin (no affiliation) that looks like it might do this for you (and much more) - in fact it looks really cool. astutegraphics.com/software/colliderscribe Jul 24, 2017 at 18:49
  • @mayersdesign Yup that looks pretty cool. When I have the $32 ...
    – Unrelated
    Jul 24, 2017 at 18:54
  • @Unrelated You can use the full functionality for 14 days as a free trial... I can help you with a random fill but you'd still have to figure out the density percentages yourself.
    – BANG
    Jul 25, 2017 at 16:27
  • Also: are you trying to fill just a simple rectangle or some other shape?
    – BANG
    Jul 25, 2017 at 18:53

2 Answers 2


What exactly is the problem with the symbol sprayer? From your description it would seem to do what you want. Here I moved the brush in little circular motions to increase the randomness.

enter image description here

Here are the settings I used for the symbol sprayer

enter image description here

  • Thanks. One of the problems (either with the tool or, more likely, with my understanding) is the lack of precision. Densities one integer apart change the density a lot, and it seems decimals aren't allowed. Also, it seems you're stuck with the circular blob, unless you want to draw with the sprayer which 1) leaves gaps and shows the path you drew and 2) still leaves a blobby shape (is there any way to crop these or do I need to use a mask?)
    – Unrelated
    Jul 24, 2017 at 22:43
  • 1
    @Unrelated Well, yes you're right. It's integers only. However you could get a bit more fine control if you were to make a bounding box, with fill and stroke set to none, around the dot, then make that into a symbol. See example here. To crop you could use a clipping mask, or you could expand and ungroup the symbol set and simply delete the dots you don't need.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 24, 2017 at 23:12
  • Ah the bounding box makes sense
    – Unrelated
    Jul 24, 2017 at 23:16

Another quick and dirty option would be to use Jongware's CircleFill script.

Something Like this

It's super useful and pretty versatile for filling a specific area. It displays a simple dialog, where you can set a maximum and minimum circle size as a percentage of the selected object size. In addition, you can select either a plain basic color, or select any of your current Swatch Groups; in that case, each of the circles are filled with a random color from that group. You can also specify the spacing between each circle.

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