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Aug 19

Command shape in Illustrator

2008 at 01.53 pm posted by Veerle Pieters

Draw a command shape in Illustrator About a week ago I received an e-mail from Sam Brown, wondering how to create a shape that looks almost exactly like the Apple Command key icon with an interesting four colored stroke depth effect to it. First thought that came to mind was “ideal for another tutorial”...

Here is the extra extra short version on how to create this shape. First create 1/4 of the shape, give it a special 4 colored stroke and rotate copy this shape 90° 3 times. Job done! I bet you want to know a bit more detailed explanation, so here we go step-by step:

Step 1 - Draw a circle

We start with the shape of a circle. Select the Ellipse Tool from the toolbox and drag a circle holding down the Shift Key.

Draw a command shape in Illustrator - Step 1 - Draw a circle

Select the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) and select the bottom right fragment of the circle. Hit delete.

Step 2 - Draw quarter of the command shape

Make sure Smart Guides are turned (View > Smart Guides) on to help you with the next step. Select the Pen Tool and click once in the most right open anchor point to start your path. Hold down the Shift Key to ensure a 100% vertical line and click again a bit lower then the circle as shown in the image below. Hold down the Command/Control Key and just click once away from the object to deselect the shape and leave the path unclosed.

Draw a command shape in Illustrator - Step 2 - Draw quarter of the command shape

Now click once in the most left open anchor point to start drawing another line. Hold down the Shift Key again to ensure you'll be drawing a perfect horizontal line and click somewhere to the left of the vertical line you've just drawn as shown on the right in the image above.

Step 3 - Create a colorful art brush

Draw 4 rectangles as shown in the image below and give each a different color. Start by drawing a rectangle using the Rectangle tool. Use the Selection Tool (black arrow) and the Shift + Alt/Option Keys to drag copy the rectangle horizontally. If Smart Guides are still turned on you should get an intersection text sign when to relase the mouse. Repeat the copy and drag until you have 4 rectangles and give each of them a different color.

Draw a command shape in Illustrator - Step 3 - Create a colorful art brush

Select all 4 rectangles using the Selection Tool (black arrow) and group them (Command/Control + G). Now drag them into the Brushes palette. Select Art Brush in the options. Next, select the vertical down arrow as Direction option and None as Colorization Method.

Step 4 - Assign brush stroke to shape

Select the shape and give it no fill (white square with red diagonal line).

Draw a command shape in Illustrator - Step 4 - Assign brush stroke to shape

Now give the shape a stroke fill selecting the new art brush from the Brushes palette. It could be you need to adjust the stroke weight a bit in the Stroke palette in order to achieve the perfect propotion of thickness.

Step 5 - Make quarter command shape perfect

Zoom in on the shape and add a horizontal guide at the bottom of the curve of the shape as shown in the image below.

Draw a command shape in Illustrator - Step 5 - Make quarter command shape perfect

Select the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) and select the bottom right anchor point. Now drag the anchor point so it intersects with the horizontal guide. Make sure you hold down the Shift Key while dragging.

Step 6 - Rotate copy the shape and repeat 3 time

All there is left to do now to complete the command is to rotate and copy this shape 90° 3 times in a row. Place a vertical guide on the right side of the shape as shown in the image below. The intersection point of the vertical and horizontal guide is the center point of our rotation.

Draw a command shape in Illustrator - Step 6 - Rotate copy the shape and repeat 3 time

Select the Rotation Tool from the Toolbox. Hold down the Alt/Option Key ad click very exactly on the intersection point of the 2 guides. In the Rotate option window enter 90° as Angle and click Copy. Hit Command/Control + D, to repeat what we just did again. Do this 3 times in a row. The shape should be complete.

Step 7 - Experiment

Experiment with the colors a bit more by creating different art brushes and apply them to the shape. If you like you can always expand the stroke into fills later on. To do this go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Draw a command shape in Illustrator - Step 7 - Experiment

Maybe you want to create a pattern background of this shape. You could do this using the Transform Effect which is located under Transform & Distort in the Effects menu. If you don't know what I mean, please read my article about Making your business cards dynamic in Illustrator or my article about Grid Masking. In both articles I use this same technique. It's another way of creating a pattern in Illustrator fast, easy and flexible ;)

My final result

Here is my creation ;)

Bring on the command

If you wonder how I created the dotted background effect, make sure to stay tuned. I promise I'll explain this in one of my next articles. For people wondering about the typeface I've used here, it's URW Puiseux D Light (again).

Want to learn more?

VECTORTUTS+ Vector Tutorials and More A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.


35served

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permalink this comment Sam Brown Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02.27 pm

Thanks V, this is exactly what I was looking for. Great technique.


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permalink this comment Hanabi Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03.32 pm

Hey Veerle,
I seem to have gotton stuck on Step 2. You refer to the right most point and creating a horizontal line, but I think this should be a vertical line from your illustration?

[Veerle] You’re right, my bad. It’s fixed now.


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permalink this comment helder Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 05.30 pm

Perfect! I love your tutorials


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permalink this comment Kelly Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 05.36 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this tut…Very cool!


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permalink this comment Stellaris Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 06.43 pm

Very nice, thanks a lot.


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permalink this comment Kris W Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 07.28 pm

Amazing, as usual!


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permalink this comment Niels Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 07.51 pm

Thanks for the cool tutorial Veerle!


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permalink this comment Jukebox Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08.34 pm

just getting started with illustrator this wis just right look forward to doing more thanks


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permalink this comment Esben Thomsen Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08.39 pm

Looks like ITC bauhaus light :-)


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permalink this comment bene Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09.36 pm

nice! thanks.
After spending some time to draw this shapes, I’m wondering: can you copy/paste them in InDesign for print purpose or do you need to redraw them in Indesign (for print)?


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permalink this comment Nan Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 12.35 am

great tutorial! thanks


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permalink this comment Gareth Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 08.55 am

Looking forward to giving this one a go. Thanks for the Tut V.


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permalink this comment Martius Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 10.31 am

Really amazing, thank you Veerle!


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permalink this comment Thomas Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 12.26 pm

Great tutorial, thanks !


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permalink this comment Veerle Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05.21 pm

Thanks for the nice comments :)

bene said:

I’m wondering: can you copy/paste them in InDesign for print purpose or do you need to redraw them in Indesign (for print)?

Yes I believe you can (haven’t tried it out yet though, but I usually work via copy/paste). However with the special brush stroke, you probably need to change the stroke first to a fill by expanding the object : Object > Expand. Also you need to make sure the color mode of your document is set to CMYK first: File > Document Color Mode > CMYK.


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permalink this comment bene Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 09.42 pm

Ok, thanks a lot. I’ll try this.


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permalink this comment Sonali Agrawal Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 03.19 am

Wonderful Tutorial..I am learning Illustrator myself these days and your tutorials and articles a great inspiration for me.
I have tried it myself. Thank You so much.


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permalink this comment Ressa Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 03.52 am

Thank you, Veerle. This is a great tutorial. If anyone is looking for that font they can find it from myfonts as PUMP EF.


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permalink this comment tenmonkey Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10.08 am

Nice dotted background effect and nice font~

wait for your next tutorial. ^^


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permalink this comment Thomas Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 12.59 pm

Thanks again for this great tutorial! I like your tutorial style very much! Just made my onw command shape!


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permalink this comment o'daddy Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 04.20 pm

Thanks V cant wait to start mine :)


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permalink this comment Thomas Fri Aug 22, 2008 at 12.05 am

Nice tutorial and poster. Thanks.


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permalink this comment Ipster Fri Aug 22, 2008 at 07.18 pm

Thanks Veerle, this is exactly what I was looking for. Great technique.


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permalink this comment steve Fri Aug 22, 2008 at 11.54 pm

Great tutorial! I can’t wait to see the next related one. I made a couple of octopi with that design as the base.

octo1
octo1

&

graspt
graspt


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permalink this comment Geena Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 12.01 am

Veerle, this is great. Thanks for posting, your tutorials are great as usual.


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permalink this comment Jackie Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 03.37 am

It’s always amazing how these shapes look so complicated, but once you go through the tutorial and see how it is done, then it becomes completely logical and easy to create yourself.

I am wondering if the dotted effect is just another art brush stroke or something?  But I guess I am getting ahead of the topic, so will wait to see what you say in your next tutorial!


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permalink this comment Tom Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 05.56 am

Grande Veerle!


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permalink this comment Andrei Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06.34 am

Realy nice, thanks.


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permalink this comment luxuryluke Sun Aug 24, 2008 at 02.00 am

Excellent stuff! Thanks for the quick tips, as always!!!


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permalink this comment Ville-Pekka Reponen Sun Aug 24, 2008 at 11.39 am

The symbol is actually an ancient symbol called Saint John’s arms, commonly used in Northern Europe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/⌘


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permalink this comment Dan Andersen Tue Aug 26, 2008 at 03.34 am

Great tutorial!

and so simple, this technique will save me so much time!


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permalink this comment Rachael Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 08.33 am

Great!! thanks a lot


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permalink this comment kai Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 07.13 am

Hi!
thanks for your tutorials.
I’m learning new things my teacher didn’t teached me in school.
I’m a newbie to this whole Illustrator thing, and I’m amazed with the endless possibilities you can do in Illustrator!
Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
:)


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permalink this comment Mayi Mon Sep 15, 2008 at 03.56 am

Great tutorial… thanks!



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