By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, January 08, 2013
In this free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke McClelland gives you the infinity symbol. The best part about this technique: you don’t have to settle for a one-font-fits-all symbol that doesn’t match your typeface of choice. Rather, Deke uses the Width tool and Variable Width preset feature in Adobe Illustrator to create an infinity character that honors the slopes and rhythms of a typeface that has no symbol of its own—in this case, Adobe Caslon Pro:
Deke begins with a trick many school-age kids already know, using the Type Orientation command to turn an 8 on its side:
Although, that’s not quite what we’re after. Let’s face it, this looks like an 8 on its side. But Deke uses that character to create a base outline for his new infinity symbol. After turning the sideways 8 to outlines, he uses it as a guideline to draw the primitive shape. (Be sure to watch the video to see how he cleverly uses the Path > Average command to find the right position for the anchor points.)
Next, Deke copies the primitive path and applies a thick 24-point stroke:
Deke uses the Width tool at each of the anchor points to thin out and thicken up the shape in a pattern similar to the other numbers in Caslon Pro—making the horizontal segments mostly thinner and the vertical ones thicker.
After roughing in the general width variations, you can double-click a point with the Width tool to edit the points to an exact measurement. In this case, Deke sets the thin areas to 10 points and the thick areas to 24 points exactly.
The results are OK, but a little lumpy. This is due in part to the Variable Width feature’s reaction to a closed path (it works more elegantly on an open path). So Deke saves this pattern as a Variable Width preset, and then he can tweak it on a line segment, which is much friendlier to work with:
Applying the new custom preset to a line, he can make sure the widths are precisely in place and aligned with the exact divisions along the line:
Then this new Variable Width preset can be saved and applied to the original primitive symbol. The result is this graceful Caslon-esque infinity:
And since Deke’s Photoshop and Illustrator knowledge is seemingly infinite, he’ll be back with more Deke’s Techniques next week!
Suggested courses to watch next:
• The entire Deke’s Techniques Collection
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
• Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool
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