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Deke's Techniques 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, indicative of nothing whatsoever, I'm going to show you how to create this jaunty six-pointed star. It's dancing it's so happening. And we'll be doing so in Adobe Illustrator, based on my favorite shape in all the world. Not this one, it's my second favorite. But rather, the shape that unifies us all, the circle. Here, let me show you exactly how it works.
All right, here's the Jaunty six-pointed star, just so you can see it on screen. We're going to be creating this star entirely from scratch based on a six-pointed circle, which is not something that Illustrator creates automatically. So we're going to have to make it manually. I'll go ahead and switch over to my base document, which features this radial gradient in the background along with the target guide right there at the center of the artboard. Go ahead and click and hold on the Shape tool here inside the Toolbox and select the Ellipse tool from the flyout menu.
Then press the Alt Key, or the Option Key on the Mac, and click right there at the intersection of those guides. And you're going to have better luck, by the way, if you go ahead and turn on your Smart Guides, available here in the View menu, go ahead and turn it on. Then press and hold the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac. Make sure you see the green word center right there, and that will bring up the Ellipse dialog box. We're looking for--if you're working along with me-- a Width and Height value of 600 points apiece. Then click OK in order to create that circle.
Now in my case, it comes in filled with white, which is exactly what we want for starters here. Next, we want to draw some guides. So I'm going to click on this gradient layer to make it active. and then I'm going to press Ctrl+Minus, or Command+Minus on the Mac, in order to zoom out. So you can see, by default, that the circle has four points, one at the bottom, one at the top, and another one on either side. We want a total of six points, and we need to place them at exactly 60-degree angles from each other, because a 360- degree circle divided by 6 is 60. So we are going to have to create guidelines at 60-degree angles.
What I want you to do is go ahead and grab your Line Segment tool and then drag from the intersection of those guides in the center of the artboard down to the bottom of the documents. And go ahead and press the Shift key to constrain the angle of your drag to exactly vertical, and you should end up with a line like this one here. Let's go ahead and change the Stroke Weight to something like 4 points just to distinguish it from anything else that's going on inside the document. Then go ahead and select the Rotate tool, which you can get by pressing the R key, and I want you to Alt-click, or Option-click, at the center of those guides in order to bring up the Rotate dialog box, change the Angle value to 60 degrees, and click on the Copy button.
And now press Ctrl+D, or Command+D on the Mac, a total of four times in order to create four additional versions of that line so that we have six in all. Now, you're not going to be able to see the lines very well, because they're in back of the circle, but have faith, they are there. Now we need to select all of them by clicking on the Select Similar Objects icon on the right side of the Control panel, and that should--assuming default settings--select all six of those lines. Now let's convert them to guidelines by going up to the View menu, choosing Guides, and then choosing Make Guides, or you can press Ctrl+5 or Command+5 on the Mac, and you should end up with the six cyan guidelines.
Now go ahead and press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, click on your circle to select it, and we need to create cut points at the intersection of this bottom-right guide and this bottom-left guide. And to do that, go ahead and click and hold on the Eraser tool and switch to the Scissors tool, which you can also get by pressing the C key, and go ahead and click at this location right there, so right there at the intersection of the circle and the guideline and then click at the intersection of this guideline and the circle as well.
You'll end up severing the shape in two. It doesn't look any different yet, but it will. Go ahead and switch back to the Black Arrow tool, click on the top portion of the circle to select it and press the Backspace key, or the Delete key on the Mac, in order to get rid of it. Now we're left with just this bottom portion right here. I want you to go ahead and click on it to select it. We're going to create three copies of it using the Rotate tool. So, select the Rotate tool, Alt-click or Option- click at the intersection of those guides and then enter an Angle value, this time around of 120 degrees, and click on the Copy button in order to create a copy of that shape.
Then press Ctrl+D, or Command+D on the Mac, in order to create one more duplicate. Now we need to joint these guys together. Press the A key to get your White Arrow tool and go ahead and marquee around these two points, there is two points at this location. They are not quite on top of each other. So you want to average their positions by going up to the Object menu, choosing Path, and then choosing the Average command. Note that this command has a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+J, or Command+Option+J on the Mac. I'll be using that shortcut in the future. That brings up the Average dialog box.
By default Both is selected, so you just have to click OK. Now we need to merge these two points into a smooth point, and there's only one way to do that in Illustrator these days, and that's to press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Alt+J on the PC, Command+Shift+Option+J on the Mac, and then you go ahead and select Smooth from the Join dialog box, and you click OK. Now we need to repeat that operation a couple of times. So I'll go ahead and marquee around these top two points right there, because there are two points at that location.
We start by averaging them, which you do by pressing Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac, make sure Both is selected, click OK. Now add the Shift key. So press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+J, or Command+Shift+Option+J on the Mac, set Points to Smooth, which you have to do manually, and click OK. We have one more pair of points to fuse together, and that's these guys down here in the lower-left portion of the circle. Go ahead and marquee them using the White Arrow tool, and you want to start your marquees from the outside and work your way in.
Then press Ctrl+Alt+J, or Command+Option+J, in order to bring up the Average dialog box, make sure Both is selected, click OK, then press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+J, or Command+Shift+Option+J on the Mac, in order to bring up the Join dialog box, turn on Smooth and click OK. Fortunately, all the boring stuff is now done. We can get to the more exciting stuff. I'm going to switch my Fill and Stroke attributes just so we can better see what we're doing. So I'll press Shift+X, and I really don't want to see a fill here.
So I'll go ahead and switch to my Color panel, make sure my Fill is active, and click on None in order to get rid of it. Now what we're going to do is we're going to take all of the curving segments associated with this circle and rotate them in order to make a Jaunty Six-Pointed Star. And here's how that works. You start by selecting all the curves by going up to the Select menu, choosing Object, and then choosing Direction Handles. And now I'll show you all the control handles associated with the circle, so the segments are selected, but the anchor points are not.
Now you switch over to the Rotate tool and double- click on it in order to bring up the Rotate dialog box. I want you to change the Angle value to -90 degrees. Make sure that the Preview check box is on so you can see what you're doing, and you'll see a six-pointed star right there in the center. So you can create a curving six-pointed star based on a six-pointed circle here inside Illustrator. Now click OK in order to apply that effect. Now we need to divide the six-pointed star from all the other curving stuff that's associated with this one-time circle, and to pull that off, I'm going to press the V key in order to switch to my Black Arrow tool, and I'll click anywhere on the path outline in order to select the entire thing.
And then you want to press Shift+X in order to, again, swap the Fill and Stroke, so we're back to a white Fill and no Stroke, in my case. and then you want to go up to the Window menu and choose the Pathfinder command to bring up the Pathfinder panel, and you want to click on the second to last icon in the second row, Outline. And what that will do is fragment all of the sub-segments from each other. So the entire path has burst to pieces now. Go ahead and hide that Pathfinder panel at this point.
And also swapped the fill and the stroke, so we're back to a white stroke, that's why we had to switch to White Fill before invoking outline. However, the Stroke here is set to 0 points, which isn't going to do us any good. So let's go ahead and increase the Line Weight value to say, 4 point once again. We're working with a group, we don't really want a group, so go up to the Object menu and choose the Ungroup command or press Ctrl+Shift+G, or Command+Shift+G on the Mac. Now you've got a ton of path outlines. If you were to twirl open the shapes layer here inside the Layers panel, you're going to see tons of path outlines, because everything has been divided apart at the various intersections of the previous path outline.
Go ahead and twirl that closed, and I'm going to press Ctrl+Semicolon, or Command+Semicolon on the Mac, to get rid of those guides for a moment. What you need to do is deselect everything that looks like a six-pointed star. So with your Black Arrow tool active, press and hold the Shift key and then marquee inside of the six-pointed star. Don't go outside, because then you'll end up deselecting some other path outlines. Just partially marquee all the stuff you want to deselect--that is the stuff you want to keep--and then release, and assuming that the entire six-pointed star is now deselected, press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to get rid of that extra stuff.
Now we need to merge the two triangles with each other, by which I mean we've got one upright triangle--mostly upright--and then we've got one upside-down triangle. Let's start by fusing together the upright triangle. So I'll marquee these two top segments, so everything is independent, once again these are two separate path outlines, then Shift- Marquee these two and Shift-Marquee these two. Then Shift-click on everything else, the three other lines that appear to form the upright triangle, and that's going to be a total of 9 paths in all.
Then go up to the Object menu, choose Path and choose Join, and that's going to leave you with one path outline. Go ahead and press Ctrl+A, or Command+A on the Mac, in order to select everything. That gradient in the background, by the way, is locked down, so it will not get selected. Then you want to Shift-click on the triangle you just created, in order to deselect it, go ahead and either choose the Join command again or just press Ctrl+J, or Command+J on the Mac.
And if you twirl open your Shapes panel, you'll see that you're left with just 2 path outlines now, which is totally awesome. Press Ctrl+A again in order to select both of those paths. We need to rotate them, so they're upright. Press Ctrl+Semicolon, or Command+Semicolon on the Mac, to bring back the guides, select your Rotate tool. Alt-click or Option-click at the intersection of all those guides in order to bring up the Rotate dialog box and dial in an Angle value of -7 degrees. That's the value that looked good to me.
So now click OK in order to accept that change, and you can see that we have these slightly waving lines associated with these triangles. I want to emphasize that effect. So I'll go up to the Object menu and choose the Group command, or you can press Ctrl+G or Command+G on the Mac. and then go up to the Effect menu, choose Warp and choose Twist, and that's going to bring up the Warp Options dialog box. The Style should be set to Twist. I want you to set the Bend value to -20% and then turn on the Preview check box so you can see this effect right there. Now click OK. We need another Warp effect.
So go up to the Effect menu, choose Warp and choose Inflate, we're going to go with a negative value to pinch the star. So go ahead and choose that command. You may see a warning, if so just go ahead and click Apply New Effect and then change the Bend value to -50% this time around. Turn on the Preview check box, and you get this effect here. Now click OK. The star is a little too small, thanks to the fact that we've pinched it, so let's make it bigger by switching to the Scale tool, which you can get by pressing the S key and then Alt-click or Option-click at the intersection of all those guides, set the Uniform value to 150% and click OK.
Now we want to make these path outlines much thicker. So I'll change the Line Weight up here in the Control panel to 36 points, and you can see that we've got these rounded corners. I don't know why, and I don't know if that's going to happen to you, but if it does, you want to click on the word Stroke, change the Cap to Butt Cap, change the Corner to Miter Join, and we have got some corners that are getting beveled, as you can see here, three corners in all. And to make them nice and sharp, take the Limit value up to 10 X, and you'll end up with this effect right here.
And now we want to render out these effects in anticipation of the various changes we're going to make in the next movie. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Semicolon, or Command+Semicolon on the Mac, in order to hide those guidelines. Go ahead and press the V key to switch back to Black Arrow tool. And then you want to go up to the Object menu and choose Expand Appearance, and that will convert those dynamic Warp effects into static path outlines. So you can now see that the path outlines and the anchor points go through the various strokes. And then finally, we want to convert these big thick strokes to fill path outlines, and you do that by going up to the Object menu, choosing Path, and then choosing Outline Stroke.
We no longer need the group, so go up to the Object menu and choose the Ungroup command, and you should see over here in the shapes layer--if it's still twirled open--two compound paths, one for each one of the triangles, and that's it, folks. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Command+Shift+A on the Mac, in order to deselect my artwork. And that's how you create a Jaunty, elegantly curving six- pointed star, here inside Illustrator. All right, gang. So, if you're a member of the lynda.com online training library, I have a couple follow-up movies in which I show you how to take that jaunty six-pointed star, and we're going to dress it up with some gradients and strokes, and we've got these interlocking triangles that are casting shadows onto the background and onto each other--all kinds of fun stuff.
If you're waiting for next week's free movie, the movie "The Hobbit" will be out, and so I'm going to show you how to create a Hobbit-worthy text effect inside Photoshop. Deke's Techniques, just as you see here, each and every week, keep watching.
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