Designing and Animating a Mind-Bending Illusion
Illustration by John Hersey

Arranging shapes in a perfect triangle


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Designing and Animating a Mind-Bending Illusion

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Arranging shapes in a perfect triangle

In this movie we'll create the ball at positions three and four, so that two, three, and four form their own perfect equilateral triangle. All right, so I'll switch to my document in progress. And, armed with the black arrow tool, I'll go ahead and click on the ball at position two in order to select it. And then, you want to press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to bring up the Move dialog box. Now, because the last move had an angle of 30 degrees. That's what we see once again. What you want to do is click after the angle value and enter plus 180, and that'll send the ball in the opposite direction.
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Watch the Online Video Course Designing and Animating a Mind-Bending Illusion
1h 26m Intermediate Aug 14, 2014

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Learn what it takes to design your own mind-bending illusion, in this installment of Designs dekeConstructed—the series that breaks down popular graphic designs and show you how to re-create them on your own. Deke starts out by drawing an "impossible" Penrose triangle and a golden ball in Adobe Illustrator. Next, he plots a path for the ball to follow around the triangle. Last, he moves to Photoshop, where he shows you how to animate the ball with a combination of layer masks and the timeline.

Topics include:
  • Creating an "impossible" triangle with hexagons and gradients
  • Drawing and filling the golden ball
  • Drawing the path of the ball
  • Creating frames as layers
  • Animating your artwork in Photoshop
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

Arranging shapes in a perfect triangle

In this movie we'll create the ball at positions three and four, so that two, three, and four form their own perfect equilateral triangle. All right, so I'll switch to my document in progress. And, armed with the black arrow tool, I'll go ahead and click on the ball at position two in order to select it. And then, you want to press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to bring up the Move dialog box. Now, because the last move had an angle of 30 degrees. That's what we see once again. What you want to do is click after the angle value and enter plus 180, and that'll send the ball in the opposite direction.

Then press the Tab key, and Illustrator will automatically do the maths. So, in other words, this time we need to move the ball at an angle of positive 150 degrees. And then I just fooled around with the distance value and ultimately figured out that a distance of 342 got me very close to that first position right there. And I'm choosing 342 because it's divisible by 3 and the reasoning here, is that I really want to move the ball back two-thirds the distance in order to get a good location right about there.

So, once I figured out that 342 got me all the way back. I went ahead and entered slash three, in order to find a third of that distance. So, that takes me a third of the way up to position number one. And so then, I went ahead and clicked after that distance value and entered asterisk two and then pressed the tab key in order to multiply that movement times 2. And so, that gives up two thirds the distance back to position number one. Which will serve us well for position number four.

At which point, you want to go ahead and click the Copy button, in order to create that duplicate. Now we want to repeat that movement, except send it down here. And, this is the kind of thing you might struggle with every once in a while. What we want to do is essentially align a new shape. So that it's vertically aligned to this circle right here, but it's lined along an angled axis to this circle. In which case, here's the easiest thing to do. With this guy selected, go ahead and switch from the Rotate tool to the Reflect tool, here inside this fly out menu.

Or you can press the O key. And then, with your smart guides on, go ahead and find the center of this circle, the circle at position number two, and Alt or Option+click on it in order to bring up the Reflect dialog box. Now, most likely, your access will be set to Vertical by default. What we want is Horizontal. And if you have your preview check box turned on, you can see that, that goes ahead and moves the circle into the proper location. At which point, you'll want to click the copy button in order to create a copy of that shape.

Now because we flipped the circle we messed up it's gradient, because we flipped it too. And so what we need to do is now turn around and flip the shape about it's own center, which is most easily accomplished just by pressing the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac. And because we have the Reflect tool selected, that brings up the Reflect dialogue box, it automatically resets the flip point to the exact center of the shape. At which point all you need to do is click the OK button in order to flip that shape and it's gradient.

And that's how you position the ball at points three and four so that two, three and four form a perfect equilateral triangle here inside Illustrator.

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