September 10, 2009

TECHNIQUE: Distribute Art Around a Path

A reader from Poland wrote in that he was trying to recreate the European Union flag - where 12 stars are distributed in a circular pattern. This reader tried several techniques including a blend, but wasn't getting the result he was looking for.

In reality, there are many designs that call for distributing art along a path. And while Illustrator has some nice Align and Distribution tools, and even Smart Guides, they won't help when you're trying to align your objects to something other than a straight line.

Enter the Blend feature - yes - the very same Blend feature that has been in Illustrator since the beginning of time. When the main purpose for blends was to create shading or blends between colors (something we all use Gradients for these days). But blends are more powerful than people think. And more importantly, when you understand what makes a blend tick, you can use it for a variety of purposes -- including distributing art along any path -- even if that path isn't straight.

Distributing art around a circle in Illustrator from Mordy Golding on Vimeo.



Enjoy the video tutorial. You can find additional tutorials on my Vimeo page here. For complete training titles on Illustrator and Flash Catalyst, head on over to Lynda.com.

18 comments:

Scott said...

Brilliant. As usual. Thanks, Mordy.

Martin said...

Very nice technique! Like it.

Anonymous said...

Nice. Thanks.

Alex said...

Every time you have a tutorial, I learn something new, and I consider myself fairly well-versed in Illustrator. Never knew about the replace spine option!! Very nice.

Boréale said...

I wouldn't have thought of the blend tool for such a case. Great !! :-)

Eric Rosenfeld said...

Nice technique. I've always wanted the ability to do this with more completed objects (groups of objects ore meshes) where the blend tool won't work. An "align to spline" option similar to some 3D programs would be ideal. For now though your technique could be used to set up placeholders and then copy/paste the complicated objects over the stars. Thanks!

Mordy Golding said...

Eric, you could certainly use more complex artwork - just define it as a symbol first. Blends work lovely with symbols!

Gary Spedding, Ph.D. said...

From the Deke pod lounge the other day - where is the topic on Opacity masking? Is it in the Archives or not yet posted? Maybe time to cover again in more depth here?

Linda said...

Mordy, I like your brilliant work very much but I can't hear what you said on your blog. I'm deaf. Wonder if you don't mind to send me your intructions on "Technique: Distribute Art Around a Path" at my email address... Lctom@comcast.net Thank you very much. LindaT

Linda said...

Mordy, I like your brilliant work very much but I can't hear what you said on your blog. I'm deaf. Wonder if you don't mind to send out your instructions of "Art Around a Path" and "Type on Path" at my email address... Lctom71@gmail.com Thank you very much... LindaT

Anonymous said...

Fantastic!

Mordy, if I could only leave one suggestion it would be to open the Mac "Keyboard Viewer" along the bottom of your screen. That way when you tell us which keys to press we can see your actual keyboard commands.

Thanks again!!

WM

krustacianken said...

The depth of Illustrator is immense.

jphg said...

Just excellent. Thanks !

The problem in foreign language localizations is how accurate the translation for a tool is… And typically for that case, the french translation is wrong : they call a Spine (which is quite self-explanatory) a "Sens" (= orientation). ????!!!!!

:-/

Anonymous said...

It a great tutorial but I was wondering if you could make the same effect with a rasterized image (placed from Photoshop)?

Thanks,

Mordy Golding said...

Sure, you can perform this technique with an image. Just place the image, as an embedded image (or embed it after you've placed it), and the create a symbol with the image in the symbol. Then blend between symbols.

Tim said...

So useful! Thanks so much for posting this!

Esther said...

Hi Mordy,
I'm trying to wrap some hand lettering I created using my Wacom around a circular path. Do you know of a way to do that?

Esther

Mordy Golding said...

Hi Esther! You might try using either a Pattern brush or an Art brush.