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By Colleen Wheeler | Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Deke's Techniques: Creating a 2013 hexagonal calendar

This week’s Deke’s Techniques video celebrates the New Year by showing you how to create a one-page full-year calendar in Illustrator. The idea for using hexagons in calendars was originally inspired by the 2010 oeuvre of illustrator Germán Ariel Berra, but it seems Gérman has moved on from calendars in the past few years, so it’s Deke’s Techniques and Illustrator to the rescue for 2013.

The project begins by drawing a simple hexagon in the upper-left area of the artboard by using a shape tool set to a Radius of 98 points and a Sides value of 6 (naturally.)

Creating the initial polygon shape for our calendar

By default, Illustrator draws its hexagons with a flat side up, so Deke uses the Rotate tool to turn the shape 30 degrees:

Set the rotate angle to 30 degrees

Since this particular hexagon will eventually become the month of February, Deke sets the fill to medium blue, which he’s chosen to represent that month. He thickens the stroke to 2 points and sets it to white.

Note: You can choose any color you like, as long as it says “February” to you. I’m using the colors that have been stuck in my head since my parents gave me my first cool calendar (with stickers on the back!), likely to have been created in the early ’70s. It just so happens I like medium blue for February, too:

Set the color for your first hexagon shape.

Next, Deke duplicates the first stroke and applies a Transform effect at 95 percent scale to give the hexagon a double ring.

Duplicate the stroke and apply a transform effect to give the hexagon a double ring.

With the entire hexagon selected, Deke then drags duplicates into place to complete a row of four. The trick here is to click and drag the upper-left point of the original hexagon until you sense it snap into place on the right, holding down the Alt key to create a duplicate. After that, you can use Ctrl+D (Command+D) to create duplicates in the correct places. He then sets the colors for March through May accordingly.

Four hexagons as the base of our calendar

Next, he selects three of the four hexagons, and drags a duplicate row into place. These shapes are colored for June and July 2013 respectively. (Deke and I apparently agree that July is red.)

More hexagons placed and aligned correctly with their colors set.

Next, the appropriate number of hexagons are copied into place and colored appropriately to finish the year.

We now have twelve hexagons ready to be labeled.

Next, Deke creates the February month title by first clicking inside the “February” hexagon (not on the edge).

Adding the month names to the hexagons.

Move and position the month names within the hexagons.

To align the month properly, Deke switches to the Outline view, turns on the shape centers, and then aligns the February text to the center of its hexagon and drags out copies to the next three months. After changing the text appropriately for each month, he selects all the month text and uses the Move tool to set them at a distance of –41 points. This way all the months are centered properly and equally positioned from the top of their respective hexagons.

If you’re creating this project on your own, rather than using Deke’s files, you can drag copies of the months out to the other cells, position them using the same commands, and retype each of the names. (A year of Februaries would be short and cold and full of too many Valentine’s Days.)

To make the days of the week and the days, Deke has a very smart and efficient approach that he demonstrates in the second video of the week. (It’s like having two Tuesdays in one week; only it’s Wednesday!) In this video, you’ll see how creating a table of text allows you to quickly adjust each month for its appropriate number of days and starting day of the week. Here’s my completed calendar with my own type choices and color connotations.

The final hexagon calendar.

For members of lynda.com, there’s yet another exclusive movie this week called Branding your calendar with a field of logos, in which Deke shows you how to create a pattern of your logo to fill out the rest of the calendar.

The 2013 Hexagonal calendar as a desktop wallpaper.

Deke will be back with another technique next week. Happy Hexagonal New Year!

Suggested courses to watch next: • Entire Deke’s Techniques Collection • Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate • Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate

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