Illustrator full spectrum spirograph
2009 at 10.17 am posted by Veerle Pieters
In my previous Illustrator tutorial I showed you how you can create a diamond flower using different transparency modes. With this tutorial we’ll stay within the same area of spirographs. Today’s article is completely inspired by Mr. Spirograph himself Andy Gilmore. His work is stunning and very inspirational. He does magic starting from simple shapes and ends up with a remarkable complex composition. I e-mailed Andy to ask permission if I could write a tutorial on one of his creations. Andy replied that it is always interesting to see the many ways that an image can be built. Let’s get started.
First of all I should point out to you that this is one of way of how you can create these kind of shapes. Also, this shape is not a 100% exact copy of Andy's creation, but it's close. I just tried to find a way so I can explain things in an easy understandable manner.
Prepare color palette
First you'll need to do some preparation work. For this shape we need to create 36 color swatches going from bright yellow, to orange, red, purple, blue, green. Keep in mind that there is a smooth transition between each color swatch. Make sure the very last yellow-green swatch will give a smooth transition to the first yellow swatch.
Create the shape to duplicate
Draw a circle using the Ellipse tool, holding down the Shift key. Give the circle a bright yellow fill. Make sure to turn on Smart Guides: View > Smart Guides. To switch them on and off use cmd/ctrl + U. It is also recommend to turn on Snap to Point: View > Snap to Point.
Select the circle at the middle left point, hold down the Shift + Alt/Option key and drag/duplicate the circle. Drag the circle to the right until you reach the center point of the original circle. Release the mouse.
Select both circles, go to the Pathfinder palette and click the Interset option. For CS3, please hold down the Alt/Option key or click the Expand button after you have clicked.
You should now end up with a shape as shown in the image above.
Adjust transparency value and mode
Go to the Transparency palette and adjust the value of 100 to 25. Change the mode from normal to Multiply.
Start rotate and duplicating the shape
Select the Rotate Tool (R), hold down the Option/Alt key and click exactly on the most bottom anchor point of the shape. Enter a value of 10 as degrees (360°/36) and click the copy button.
Give the duplicated shape the 2nd (yellow) swatch fill.
Now the fun part can begin. With the 2nd circle selected, hit cmd/ctrl + D to repeat the exact transformation. Give the 3rd shape the 3rd swatch fill. Hit cmd/ctrl + D again. Give the 4th shape the 4th swatch fill.
Repeat these steps: cmd/ctrl + D, apply next swatch as fill.
Keep repeating the steps until the spirograph is complete.
Respect the creator and his work
Being inspired by his work or his technique is fine, but do not steal or copy. Inspiration should lead to new ideas, new creations. I invite you to experiment with different shapes, different patterns or try out different angles and color combinations. All his work is copyright protected and may not be copied or used in any way without his permission.
Result of my experimentation
I thought, since I always stress out experimentation is vital, I share what I've created. Once I was playing around with this Transform Again technique, I was thinking why not try out Transform Each instead and see where I end up. Here is the result of some of my experimentations :
Start with a simple square. Copy and rotate at -10° and scale 85%, 8 times in a row. You end up with 9 squares in total. Then rotate the entire shape at -10°. Use a transparency of 10% in Multiply mode.
Start with a triangular shape. Copy, rotate at 12°, scale at 115% and move -10 mm horizontally and 10 mm vertically, 10 times in a row. You end up with 11 triangle shapes in total. I've used different colors with a transparency of 40% in Multiply mode.
Start with the same triangular shape. Copy, rotate at 18°, 6 times in a row. You end up with 7 triangle shapes in total. I've used different colors with a transparency of 100% in Screen mode. This way the overlapping area in the center is white.
Start with 3 overlapping circles. Draw one and rotate/duplicate the circle at 120°. Group the circles and copy, rotate at 48°, 2 times in a row. You end up with 3 circles shapes in total (each shape containing 3 circles). I've used different different colors (radial gradients) for each with different transparency values and transparency modes.
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.