Command shape in Illustrator
2008 at 01.53 pm posted by Veerle Pieters
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 ;)
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?
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.