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Creating the base shapes for your square dots

From: Designs dekeConstructed: Gradient Dot Patterns with Illustrator

Video: Creating the base shapes for your square dots

In this movie, I'll show you how to And that keyboard shortcut you saw there And that's the vertical move value incidentally.

Creating the base shapes for your square dots

In this movie, I'll show you how to achieve what might seem like a drab effect. We're going to create a grid of 59 by 39 squares. But it sets the stage for the next movie in which we'll create this square gradient dot pattern. Now the number of squares 59 by 39 is important. You don't have to create that exact number of squares but you do need an odd number of squares in each direction. And that's because we need a column over here on the left hand side. And a column on the right hand side. And then we need another column.

Right here down the middle. So lets see how it works. I'll go ahead and switch over to my document in progress. I'll turn off this half-tone layer. I'll go ahead and select the text layer at the bottom of the stack. I'll press the alt key or the option key on a MAC. And I'll drag that layer to the top of the stack. And when I see my fist with the little plus sign, I'll drop it into place and then I'll turn that layer on and I'll go ahead and double click an empty portion of the layer to bring up the layer options dialog box and I'll call this one square dots and I'll change the color, lets say to grass-green just for the sake of contrast.

And now, click OK in order to create that layer. Alright. Now I'm going to twirl this layer open so that I can see, the only contents of the layer, which are the letters A, B, C, I'll go ahead and click on the letters to select them. And just for the sake of variety, I'll go up to the fill swatch up here in the control panel, and I'll change the color to this guy right here, which is a swatch that's automatically included inside this basic RGB document. It's called R0G13B188 and we will end up with some blue letters.

So, if you don't have to look at orange letters all day. Alright. Now, press the escape key and now I'll turn off the letters by clicking on the sideball here. You want IA in the front of the layer to be on. But the one in front of the text, for now, to be off. Alright, let's go ahead and press Ctrl+0, or Cmd+0 on a Mac, to zoom out and I'll go ahead and get my rectangle tool. And I want to create a square that measures exactly 12 by 12 points. So I'll go ahead and click anywhere inside the document, which brings up the rectangle dialog box.

And I'll change both the width and height values to 12 points like so and click OK. And we end up with a little blue square which is not what I want so I'll change the color from blue to black, and I'm doing so by clicking on the first swatch up here on the control panel, and now I'll press the escape key in order to hide that panel. Now I want to move this square to the exact top left corner of the art board. But I could have done that using smart guides and so forth, but instead I'm going to show you this awesome trick that involves the Transform panel.

We'll go ahead and click on the word Transform up here in the Control panel and I just want you to note that you can change the size of a rectangle to any size you want, any time you want, just by entering new. Width and height dimensions here. So I could increase the width to 24 points. Which is exactly twice its former width. And if I didn't know that, I could do the math. I could click after the existing height value, and enter asterisk two, and then press the tab key. And the asterisk indicates multiply, so that went ahead and multiplied the height times two. Now that's not what I want so I'll just go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on a Mac a couple of times.

I just want you to see that that's possible. So you can enter exact dimensions. For that rectangle. Now unfortunately, these values didn't update when I undid the changes. So I'll hide the transform panel, and bring it back up. And that goes ahead and gives me those new values. What I want to do is exactly align the upper left corner of the square to the upper left corner of the art board. And I do that using these x and y values. So, the first thing you have to do is click in the upper left corner of this little reference point matrix right there, and then click on the x to select its value and change it to 0, and then press the tab key and change the y value to 0 as well and you have exact alignment.

So, it's pretty amazing how you can precisely align objects from the transform panel here inside the program. Anyway, I'll go ahead and press the escape key now to hide the panel. Now I need to duplicate this square ever so many times. And I'm going to do that dynamically. Just because it's the easiest way to work. By going up to the effect menu, choosing distort and transform, and then choosing transform. And that keyboard shortcut you saw there for a moment, that's mine. It's a custom keyboard shortcut that I created, it's not there by default. Alright now what we want to do is change the vertical value to 13.

That way, we'll have a little bit of a gap between our 12 point squares. And that's the vertical move value incidentally. And then I'll turn on the preview check box, and you can see that scoots the square down. But, I want to leave the original square in place so I'll increase the copies value to one, so now we have two squares The original and a copy. And actually want many more than that. So I'll press Shift+ up arrow a few times, in order to take the value way too high. Notice I've taken the value to 40 copies. And shoves the squares off the art board. So I'll go ahead and press the down arrow a couple of times So that we end up with 38 copies add that to one original and we now have 39 squares across the height of the art board and you can see that I've taken the time to make sure my art board is exactly the right size in advance.

Alright now I'll click okay. In order to accept that effect. And now what you want to do is return to the effect menu, and choose distort and transform, and choose the transform command once again. You could choose this command right there, but that will re-apply your last settings, and that's not really what we want. So, I'll just go ahead and choose the command from this location. Illustrator's going to gripe at me, and ask if I really want to apply a new effect, as opposed to editing the existing one. And of course, I do. So I'll go ahead and click apply new effect. And now I'll change the horizontal value to 13 points so I have a little bit of a depth.

Turn on the preview check box that moves the entire column, then I'll click inside the copy value and press shift up arrow a few times, until I go too far at 60, and then I'll back it off by pressing the down arrow key until I take the copies value down to 58. 58 plus 1 original is 59. So we now have 39 squares tall by 59 squares wide. And now I'll click OK in order to accept that change. And that's how you create an oddly numbered grid of squares that will ultimately allow us to create this square gradient do pattern using the Dynamic Transform effect here inside Illustrator.

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