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Apr 22

Create a spiral ornament Symbol in Illustrator

2008 at 08.23 am posted by Veerle Pieters

Today I want to show you how you can create a spiral ornament in Illustrator and reuse this ornament throughout your artwork multiple times resized, rotated, mirrored, whatever… by turning it into a Symbol. I’ve talked about Symbols before and I showed you how to use the Symbol Sprayer Tool. This time I’ll focus a bit more on the creation of the ornament itself. Like always I’ll talk you through the entire process step by step. By explaining every little detail of each step, this tutorial should be a good exercise for the beginners among you. You’ll learn to use a lot of several tools along the way and you only use the Pen Tool a tiny little bit. Hope you enjoy and learn :)

Draw a spiral and a circle

Draw a spiral, then a circle

Start by selecting the Spiral Tool from the Toolbox and draw a spiral (click and drag). Hold down the shift key while doing that. You can also hold down the spacebar meanwhile to move the position of the object. While we are still holding down the mouse we can use the up or down arrow keys to add or remove segments of the spiral shape. Once you're happy with everything release the mouse, then the shift key.

Select the Ellipse Tool from the Toolbox. With exception of the arrow keys, the same keys can be applied: use the Shift key for a circle, use spacebar to put the circle in position. Release the mouse, then the shift key.

Draw sperm head

Create sperm head using the Ellipse tool

Draw 2 other circles as shown in the image above. Us the Shift key and the Spacebar again while dragging to position them in the correct spot.

Cut the path using the Scissors tool

Now select the Scissors Tool and click on the 2 intersections as shown above. Select the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) to select the segment of the path you've just cut and hit the delete key (once or twice depending on how you've selected the path) to get rid of the path segment.

Cut the path using the Scissors tool

Repeat the above steps for the other circle: click the 2 intersections using the Scissors Tool and delete the path segment.

Join path segments

Select the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) and select the 2 intersecting points on the smaller circle: click on the first point, hold down Shift and click the 2nd point. Hit command/control + j to join both points (Object > Path > Join). Do the same for the other 2 points. You might need to lock the spiral first to be able to proper select both points: select the spiral shape and go to Object > Lock > Selection or hit command/control + 2. Don't forget to unlock the path again when you're done Object > Unlock All or just hit command/control + alt/option + 2.

Pathfinder: Add to shape area

Select the Selection Tool (black arrow) from the Toolbox and select the smaller circle and the other object that forms the shape of the sperm head. Go to the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and option/alt click the Add to shape area option. Turn the stroke into a filling by toggling the arrow/switch icon above the Stroke and Fill at the bottom of the Toolbox. Now select both spiral and sperm head and duplicate the object by holding down the option/alt key while dragging the object.

Create the other side of the spiral ornament

Scale down the duplicated object

Double click the Scale Tool and uncheck the Scale Strokes & Effects option. This way when we scale the object the same stroke weight will be remained. Scale the object down to almost 1/3 of its original size.

Rotate into position and delete unnecessary path segments

Place the smaller spiral into position as shown above and delete 2 segments of the spiral. Move the ending point of the bigger spiral using the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow). Just click in the point and drag.

Connect both spiral objects

Connect both spiral objects using the Pen Tool

Select the Pen Tool. Click in the ending point, hold down the mouse and drag into the direction of the smaller spiral as shown in the image above on the left. Now click the in ending point of the smaller spiral while holding down the mouse and dragging upwards as shown in the above image on the right. If the path isn't perfect you can select the Direct Selection tool, click in a point to select it and tweak the curve by moving its handles.

Create a Symbol

Create a Symbol

Ornaments are usually elements that you'll use more then once in your design. It's useful to create a Symbol from your creation. This way you not only save yourself time it'll also keep your file low in size. If you are familiar with Adobe® Flash you'll know what Symbols and instances are. It's exactly the same in Illustrator. Even the shortcut used to create a symbol (F8) from an object is the same. Symbols are reusable objects which are stored in a Symbols Library. You can create your own libraries of Symbols or you can explore the many libraries that come with Illustrator accessible via the panel's menu. Just click the top right arrow icon on the panel: Open Symbol Library. There is a whole bunch to explore.

V but not me

To create a Symbol you simply drag the object into the Symbols panel. To reuse it you drag it from the Symbols panel onto your canvas. To edit a Symbol, just double click it in the in the Symbols panel. Doing this will bring you into Isolation mode. You'll see a grey bar at the top with a 'back' arrow. After you've done editing, click the arrow and your Symbol will be updated. Editing the Symbol means that all instances of that Symbol will be updated in your artwork. If you want to change an instance of the Symbol you've used in your artwork, you'll need to Expand it first so it's 'disconnected' with its original Symbol. You do this by going to Object > Expand and check the Object and Fill option. Now you can edit the paths apart from all other instances.

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.


41served

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permalink this comment Farishta Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 09.57 am

Thaks a lot, especially for the note about symbols. I always have troubles with editing symbols :p


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permalink this comment Goos Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 11.04 am

Same here Faristha, I have been working forever to get the same result but this tutorial shows again how easy it can be done. Thanks Veerle.


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permalink this comment naveed ahmad Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 11.48 am

wow thats a gud trick :) thanks for sharing


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permalink this comment theCarrotNetwork Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 12.09 pm

Thanks for this Veerle!  I do wish you’d post more regular with stuff like this!


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permalink this comment Carolynn Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 12.52 pm

This was awesome and very helpful! This is a much shorter way and you get a more authentic look then the way I’ve been doing it.
You rock! :o)


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permalink this comment butzi Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 02.58 pm

Thanks for the great lesson. I hope my problems are now blown away :-)


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permalink this comment Kristin Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 06.03 pm

Awesome…simple & useful…you’re the best! Don’t know what I’d do without this blog!


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permalink this comment Jamie Rumbelow Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 06.11 pm

Nice tutorial Veerle!


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permalink this comment Darren Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 06.26 pm

You absolutely rule!! I’m a developer = I use keyboards not mice…. But with all your wicked tutorials I’ve learned how to do both! Keep up the great work… EH!


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permalink this comment Kelly Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 08.09 pm

Great tutorial…You make it look so easy!


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permalink this comment Matthias Wed Apr 23, 2008 at 01.40 am

I presented a solution to create something similar on a forum where a question about creating floral ornaments came up.

It’s in German, but I think it might be helpful nonetheless. Google Translate to the rescue.


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permalink this comment Lurant Wed Apr 23, 2008 at 12.18 pm

Gorgeous tutorial! A newbie like me can do it now.


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permalink this comment jennifer willis Wed Apr 23, 2008 at 03.12 pm

I always love your stuff, but this tutorial is particularly cool.  Thanks!


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permalink this comment CarlyWood Wed Apr 23, 2008 at 03.13 pm

Wow, I like the spiral - I must have a go at that myself, and I shall have a go at turning it into a symbol.

Thank you


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permalink this comment Mama Razzo Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 08.15 am

damned i had to look twice as i read “sperm head” :) great tutorial like everytime. thank you veerle!


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permalink this comment Acadio Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 09.55 am

Nice and useful tutorial verlee’s. I linked this tutorial from my blog.


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permalink this comment Josh Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 04.36 am

This is a great tutorial. Is there one that shows how you drew the girl’s face?


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permalink this comment Dorin Vancea Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 12.52 pm

Excelent tutorial,
Thank you !


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permalink this comment kyle Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 04.53 pm

you have a great site and love your style! I will be back here often I’m sure!


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permalink this comment Web Designer Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 09.30 pm

Excellent tutorial again, Veerle. Almost too *girly* for me though ;-)


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permalink this comment Ban Sat Apr 26, 2008 at 07.05 am

First time around here for me, and this was just what i was looking for excellent read and when im back home im gonna try!


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permalink this comment laura Sat Apr 26, 2008 at 08.07 pm

great tutorial! thanks :)


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permalink this comment Tracy K Sat Apr 26, 2008 at 09.18 pm

Oh! Wonderful job!
Very good and useful post.
Thx, your blog in my Google reader now


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permalink this comment Chloe Baby Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 03.25 am

Hello Veerle,
I have been on and off on your blog following your tutorials for a long time but never actually got the chance to comment as there always closed !

Anyway, another really good tutorial, thanks very much :)


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permalink this comment Mark Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 12.36 pm

Excellent tutorial. Many thanks for sharing.


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permalink this comment mightee-mouse Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 10.44 am

Thank you for this excellent, well-detailed tutorial.  Most appreciated! :-)


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permalink this comment Tommy_Gun Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 03.11 pm

good tutorial, Thank you!


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permalink this comment billseymour Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 04.30 am

Another terrific tutorial! In final image, top left curlicues- do you construct these with similar technique (circles, scissors, join), or are these done with pen? I am experimenting with both methods. Thanks again.


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permalink this comment Rostyslav Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 08.01 am

Awesome tip…
I am n00b to illustrator and your site and all the tut;s are helping me a lot..
Keep it up…


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permalink this comment Veerle Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 12.47 pm

Thank you all for commenting :) Glad you all enjoy my article.

billseymou said:

In final image, top left curlicues- do you construct these with similar technique (circles, scissors, join), or are these done with pen?

It’s a combination of both. First I use the Ellipse tool. I use the Scissors to cut the unused parts out and I join the paths together. Then last I use the Pen tool to connect parts where the Ellipses do not join perfectly, like some parts of the loops. It’s often useful to start with either the Ellipse tool or sometimes the Arch tool to achieve perfectly formed curves.


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permalink this comment David Smith Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 04.28 pm

Hey this is great,

However, could you possibly demonstrate how to make a spiral which is made up of individual shapes.

So say a spiral of individual circles which grow progressively larger (or smaller). Could you demonstrate how best to distribute them evenly along a line?

Many thanks


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permalink this comment Christian Wed Apr 30, 2008 at 04.55 pm

Wonderful! This Keyboard Shortcut tips will help a lot from now on.

:D


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permalink this comment musique1 Thu May 1, 2008 at 11.15 am

Great tutorial BUT stupid me .. I am stuck! it is happening when I try to join & I am getting this message ” to join two open end points. if they aren’t on the same path ...if both of them are grouped, they must be in the same group”

:(


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permalink this comment Veerle Tue May 6, 2008 at 09.01 am

David Smith said:

So say a spiral of individual circles which grow progressively larger (or smaller). Could you demonstrate how best to distribute them evenly along a line?

I think it involves blending from a big circle to small circle using a certain distance in between them and then draw a spiral shape and select both the blended line of circles and the spiral shape and go to Object > Blend > Replace spine. Then the blended circles are applied on the spiral. You’ll get some cool interesting and surprising effects for sure if you tried this out.

musique1 said:

Great tutorial BUT stupid me .. I am stuck! it is happening when I try to join & I am getting this message “to join two open end points. if they aren’t on the same path ...if both of them are grouped, they must be in the same group”

No, “not stupid you” really :) This can happen pretty easily and it sometimes gets on my nerves also when this message disturbs my process. Make sure only 2 points are selected using the Direct Selection tool (white arrow). If the end points are not on the same path then make sure that:

- both path segments are in the same group (if they are grouped)*
- both path segments are part of the same compound path (if they are compound)**

*Ungroup both objects first: command/control + shift + g (Object > Ungroup) until they are both ungrouped.

**Objects become Compound after you’ve used one of the Pathfinder options or if you selected 2 objects and you hit command/control + 8 (Object > Compound Path > Make). Release the compound path by hitting command/control + alt/option + shift + 8 (Object > Compound Path > Release)

Joining 2 end points also doesn’t work on text paths or paths in a graph. I’m just repeating what the warning says here :) It takes a bit of learning first to fully understand what this all means. Though I hope I helped clarifying this a bit for you somehow.


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permalink this comment dave Thu May 8, 2008 at 02.14 am

hi Veerle. again, the simple things can show you something new. great technique on drawing the “sperm head” :) Had fun making a desktop background with your ornament and an old typeface i never finished. check it out if you get bored. have a great day.


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permalink this comment DazzleCat Thu May 8, 2008 at 03.33 pm

Not being the best with graphics this is a great help to me. clear consise and easy to follow.. Bookmarked!


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permalink this comment James Creare Tue May 13, 2008 at 06.42 pm

Great Tutorial Veerle, Where can I find other Illustrator Tutorials on your blog?


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permalink this comment Rose Wed May 14, 2008 at 08.17 pm

Veerle said:

This looks great, but I’m a little stuck at this point:

Select the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) and select the 2 intersecting points on the smaller circle: click on the first point, hold down Shift and click the 2nd point. Hit command/control + j to join both points (Object > Path > Join). <em>Do the same for the other 2 points.

...I’m not sure which other two points! I’m not very experienced with Illustrator I’m afraid.


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permalink this comment Veerle Thu May 15, 2008 at 09.17 am

James Creare said:

Where can I find other Illustrator Tutorials on your blog?

You can find them under Archive > Photoshop-Illustrator. This link is also on my homepage actually where you see the same category list.

Rose said:

...I’m not sure which other two points! I’m not very experienced with Illustrator I’m afraid.

It is shown in the image on the right (in the red circle). The 2 other ending points of the shape where it ends in a point and where the spiral begins.


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permalink this comment Pebbles Thu May 15, 2008 at 03.07 pm

Thanks for sharing how to make the ornament!  I love making all kinds of ornaments, I’m looking forward to trying this out!


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permalink this comment Isabella Wed May 21, 2008 at 03.56 pm

Thanks a lot for this useful tutorial. And by the way, I love your design :)



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