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This course is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques! This week we're just going to rage on the spirals. This is the kind of spiral that you create in Illustrator using the Spiral tool. It's not a Fibonacci spiral. It's not nearly anything that's cool, it's like an exponential logarithmic spiral, something like that, but it's the kind of spiral only an engineer could love. And that's the problem, it's not the kind of spirals we want to draw. We want a nice linear, Archimedean spiral, like this one right here.
And I'm going to show you how to create it using, by the way, a tool you've probably never used inside of Illustrator, the Polar Grid tool, and we'll end up creating this absolutely hypnotic effect here. You're getting vector sleepy. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. I'm going to start things off by showing you how to use Illustrator's Spiral tool, just so you have a sense for how it works, and then I'll show you how to create a linear spiral using the Polar Grid tool.
I'm going to go ahead and turn off both of these bottom two layers, so that we have an empty document to work on. And then I'll go over here to the Line Segment tool, click and hold on it to bring out the flyout menu and choose the Spiral tool from the list. Now you draw a spiral fairly simply just by dragging inside of the document window, but notice that the beginning of your drag doesn't actually coincide with any point on the spiral, which makes it a pretty difficult tool to predict. Fortunately, you can press the spacebar in order to move the spiral on the fly, which oftentimes allows you to get it in a better position.
A few other keyboard tricks that are available to you here; if you press and hold the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac, then you'll change what's known as the decay of the spiral, that is how quickly it declines inward on itself. If you want to add segments, you press the Up Arrow key; if you want to reduce the number of segments, you press the Down Arrow key. I'm going to add a lot of segments here by pressing the Up Arrow key, so I can show you another trick. If you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key, then Illustrator will automatically take away segments as you make the spiral smaller and add segments as you make the spiral larger.
You can also press the Shift key if you want to constrain the angle of the spiral. And finally, if you want to flip the spiral in the other direction, you press the R key for reflect. All right, in my case I'm going to go ahead and use the spacebar in order to position the spiral a little bit here. When you're done, just go ahead and release the mouse button and you've got yourself this kind of exponential spiral. And I say exponential because once again, each and every line segment is closer to its neighbor as we move toward the center of the path outline.
All right, I'm going to go ahead and press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to delete that path. One other option that's available to you when you're using the Spiral tool, or any other Line or Shape tool, is that you can click in order to bring up this dialog box and then you can create a spiral by the numbers. These present settings by the way, represent the last spiral we created. Anyway, I'm going to cancel out of this dialog box, just want you to know all your options. Now let me show you the other Line tool that we'll be looking at here, which is the Polar Grid tool.
You can go ahead and select it from that same Line tool flyout menu. And what it does, as you can see here, you create this kind of target with a bunch of concentric rings and the spoke lines coming out as well. If you want the rings to be perfect circles, then you press and hold the Shift key. If you want to draw the shape from the center outward, then you press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac. I'll go ahead and release both of those keys. You can also press the spacebar in order to move the path outline on the fly, that's always an option with the Line and Shape tools.
You can press the Up Arrow key to add concentric rings, you can press the Down Arrow key to remove concentric rings, and if you want to add spokes, then you press the Right Arrow key, if you want to remove spokes, you press the Left Arrow key. That gives you a sense of what's going on where this tool is concerned. I'm going to press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of it. What we want to do is create a very specific kind of Polar Grid, and I want to draw it from the center outward. So as opposed to clicking, which will bring up the Polar Grid dialog box, but it will create the shape from the top-left corner down, I'll go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on the Mac, somewhere near the center of this artwork in order to bring up the Polar Grid Options dialog box.
And I'm going to create an object that has a Width and a Height of 460 points. You can go your own way here; however, you need to make sure that this is a perfect circle, so both values have to be the same. Then, I'm going to crank the number of Concentric Dividers, which are the rings, up to 12. And I'm going to get rid of all the Radial Dividers, which are the spokes. So I'll go ahead and take that number down to 0, otherwise you want to work with the default settings, then go ahead and click OK in order to create this series of what are ultimately 13 concentric circles; the outer circle, and then 12 circles inside of it.
Now what you want to do is switch over to your White Arrow tool, which you can get by pressing the A key, and go ahead and marquee all of the bottom points in the paths. Every single bottom point should be selected like so, every side point and the top point should not be selected. And then you want to go up to the Edit menu and choose the Cut command or you can press Ctrl+X or Command+X on the Mac. And as you can see that it goes ahead and cuts the circles apart, now we want to go ahead and retrieve those cut half circles by going up to the Edit menu and choosing Paste in Front or pressing Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac.
Now at this point I want to be able to modify these rings using the Black Arrow tool, so I'll go ahead and switch to that tool, which you can get by pressing the V key. Then I'll press Ctrl+A in order to select everything inside of this document. And I'm going to go up to the Object menu. This may seem weird, but you've got to do it. And choose the Ungroup command or you can press Ctrl+Shift+G or Command+Shift+G on the Mac. Then go back to the Object menu and choose the Ungroup command again, or press that keyboard shortcut a second time. And that goes ahead and wipes out all the grouping that's associated with these paths.
And you can confirm that by going back to the Object menu and you'll notice the Ungroup command is now dimmed, because we no longer have any groups. Next what I want you to do is go ahead and click off the lines to deselect them and now go ahead and partially marquee all those bottom paths again. We just want the bottom path outlines to be selected. For this to work properly you don't want to see the bounding box. I'll go ahead and press the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Shift+B or Command+Shift+B on the Mac to bring it back. If you do see this bounding box right here, what you want to do is go up to the View menu and choose Hide Bounding Box or press that keyboard shortcut I just mentioned, because we're going to need to drag the paths by this upper-left anchor point.
And what you want to do is drag them just one increment over, like so, so that they snap into alignment. So in other words, we're moving all these paths one ring inward. Now we effectively have two spirals that are wound in on each other, and we need to identify them for Illustrator. So click off the paths to deselect them. Let's start in the center here with this guy, go ahead and click on him, Shift+Click on this one, Shift+Click on this one, notice that I'm Shift+Clicking on each of these segments that go along with each other.
Now what you'll notice as you work through this is you can actually just go ahead and select every other one of these half circles going down and then do the same going upward. And each time I'm clicking, I've got the Shift key down so that I'm adding to my selection. Then go ahead and press Ctrl+X or Command+X on the Mac in order to cut those rings to the background, and now press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac to select this entire spiral. It's still a bunch of path outlines that come apart, notice if I were to grab these guys and start moving them around, they're not connected to each other.
I'll go ahead and undo those changes there and press Ctrl+A or Command+A again. Starting in Illustrator CS5 and continuing into CS6, you can join these paths in a single operation by going up to the Object menu, choosing Path, and then choosing Join, or you can just press Ctrl+J or Command+J on the Mac. And now notice that if I click off and then drag the shape around, I've got just one path and nothing more. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that change. Now let's say you want the other spiral as well, just press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac to bring it back, and then go back up to the Object menu, choose Path and choose Join in order to join that path outline so that it's a single path as well.
And now at this point I could grab both of them and change their Line Weights, like so. I'll go ahead and take that Stroke up to 6 points. I'll click on the word Stroke there and change the Cap to a Round Cap. And then I'll click off the path outlines in order to deselect them and I'm going to click on the inner one here, the one that we just pasted into place, and I'll change its color by clicking on the second color swatch up here in the Control panel. Let's just go ahead and change it to screaming CMYK Red here. As you can see, we've got two spirals. And the wonderful thing about this is, now that you've drawn these spirals, you really never have to draw them again.
You can just take these spirals and scale them and repurpose them into any artwork you choose. And that friends, is how you draw perfect linear spirals using the Polar Grid tool.
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