Building a classic Celtic knot

show more Building a classic Celtic knot provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced show less
please wait ...

Building a classic Celtic knot

I have gone ahead and saved the progress from the previous exercise as 1 on 1 love, just in case you want to compare your results to mine. We are not going to move on to the Celtic knot project. So I will switch over to Celtic knot. ai and I want you to appreciate how remarkable this very simple illustration is. First of all you know that in the PostScript printing language and in Illustrator, one object has to be either in front of or in back of another object. It can't be woven into an object.

So what we have got here is this orange circular element that is weaving in front of and in back of this green element. Meanwhile, the green element is weaving in front of and in back of itself. That is just impossible inside of Illustrator and yet you can simulate that affect using Live Paint and even better. I will press the A key in order to switch to the White Arrow tool and check this out. If I start grabbing segments and moving them around, then every thing updates on the fly and I can even grab the interior of the circle if I want to, so I can modify partial elements and still get dynamic results here.

Now what you will notice because I filled these objects with gradients and you'll see how that works in the future exercise, but because of the gradients I have some ghosting left over in the wake of my changes and that's something I could rectify if I want to. I actually think it looks pretty cool in this case, but I could fix those gradients in short order using the Gradient tool and again I'll show you how that works. But I just want you to have a sense of how amazingly, flexible this approach is. All right, so I am going to press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac a few times to restore my original objects and what we are going to do in this exercise is set up the base path outline, essentially we are going to set up this path outline right here, this arc that runs over the course of this area, that I am tracing right now, because that's the base path in this green element here.

And so the green element is really a combination of three of those things working together as I'm tracing and so there are parts of circles and then we have this other circle that's woven into them. So let's go ahead and start work on those base objects. I have a file already for you very simple file to you. You could have drawn it yourself but I just want you and I get exactly the same results. It's called Circle & and you should see this circle with a black stroke no fill and this little target guide, if you can't see the guide, press Ctrl+Semicolon or Command+Semicolon on Mac in order to bring it up and the guide is just a little circle with a couple lines drawn through it.

But it identifies the center of our transformations. So go ahead and press the V key if you're working along with me to switch to the Black Arrow tool and if you don't have this progress file, you can pretty much build this. I think on your own and follow along with me. But this just gives a premium members a place to start and I will go ahead and click on this path outline in order to select it, then I am going to switch over to my Rotate tool, I can get that by pressing the R key of course and I will Alt+Click or Option+Click on that target in order to bring up the Rotate dialog box. Now I need three circles that are woven together in order to create that green object and so a full circular rotation is 360?, so we take 360 and we divided it by three in order to get 120 and so go ahead and enter a 120 for your Angle, click the Copy button and then do it again by pressing Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac and now we have three circles, we want 4 because we also want that central orange circle.

So go head and grab your Black Arrow tool once again and drag from the center point of this most recent circle, drag it until it aligns, it should snap into alignment with that target, then press the Alt key or the Option key on he Mac in order to create a clone. Now go to the layers panel and twirl open the primitive's layer, the one and only layer inside the panel. And turn off the top object. This most recent circle you just created because we will come back to it. We just want to have that circle on place for now. So go ahead and turn it off. Now, what I found over the course of working through this project that the most efficient approach was to go ahead and whittle things down to an intersection of two of these circles.

So what I need to do is, I need to cut out this part right there, right. We need to get rid of this section of circle, this section up here and this section down there and you could do that by cutting, using the Scissors tool, you could cut right there at the intersections or there is bunch of different approaches you could take. You could even try to make it work with Live Paint. You can turn this into Live Paint object and get rid of these outer strokes but if you do that, you are not going to be able to take advantage of the Live Paint technique later on down the road. We need to start with a Static path outlined in order to get that Live Paint weaving effect.

So it doesn't pay to be too clever upfront in this case. Anyway here's the cleverness. I just need this little piece right their. That's what I figured out over time. So what I am about to show you may not seem like the best approach, it's not the intuitive approach necessarily, but it was the best approach that I came up with. So I will go ahead and click on this circle right there in order to select it, the most recent circle of the three and I am going to press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of it, which may seem pretty radical, just like throw it away like that but works out beautifully. I am not going to marquee the last two circles, the remaining both, to select them both and I will bring up the Pathfinder panel and then I will click on this guy right there Intersect, in order to find the intersection of those two paths, that's all we need.

Is this bit right there, fact that's still too much, we don't need all of that. Now hide the Pathfinder panel, I am going to switch to the White Arrow tool by pressing the A key and I am going to marquee these two points. We want to keep the points that I am not marqueeing. So we are just marqueeing the two inner points here, the two points on the left hand side, in order to select them and then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac and only you have left is that little bit. The entire knot by the way is based on that little bit. This is this section right there. We just happen to be zoomed out from it.

So we are zoomed in more in this Illustration, you can and the zoom ratios is set to 200%. It's not the other one, its set to 100%. That's because we needed to take in all those circles originally. Anyway, this is the section that we still have and the entire Celtic Knot is based on that. All right, so I will switch back to my Illustration & Progress. Mine as well; zoom in on it so that we have the same zoom ratio. Go ahead and switch from the Rotate tool to the Reflect tool now which you can get by pressing the O key. Alt key or Option on this left hand point, set the Reflect axis to Vertical, turn on Preview so you can see what you're doing.

You should get this effect right here a horizontal flip and then click Copy in order to create a clone. All right, now we need to fuse these two path outlines together and I am going to do that by grabbing my direct Selection tool, marqueeing these two coincident anchor points right there and by coincident I mean one is directly on top of the other and what you typically do is just join them together. You might go to the Object menu, choose the Path command and then choose Join or press Ctrl+J, Command+J on the Mac and now in Illustrator CS5, you don't get a dialog box anymore. It just does its thing.

The problem is that it goes ahead and fuses those two points into a corner point. As you can see right there, I need it to be a smooth point so I will undo that modification by pressing Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac. You should just be able to go up here to the Ctrl panel and click on this icon right there that converts the point to a smooth point only in my case it's not working. So that's a bust. Anyway I will press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac a couple of times in order to restore my two independent path outlines and I can see that they are independent here inside the layers panel.

I have got an arch on the left hand side and another one on the right hand side. I am going to marquee these two points with the White Arrow tool once again. They look like one but they are two points directly on top of each other. Now to get that old school behavior, those of you who are familiar with previous versions of Illustrator know that when you join two coincident endpoints in the old days, CS4 and all the way back to Version 1.0, you got a dialog box that would ask you if you want to join the two points into a corner point or a smooth point, you can still get that dialog box by mashing your fist down and pressing the J key.

Hit Ctrl+Shift+Alt+J or Command+Shift+Option+J on the Mac, brings up the Join dialog box. Now you can say that you want a smooth point, click OK and now it's done properly. These two control handles are locked into alignment with each other which is what I want. All right, I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that particular modification. We now have our base path; we need to rotate it around, a couple or more times. We've now described this arch right here, we need to create this one and this one as well and then we need to fuse them together and will do all that and more in the next exercise.

Building a classic Celtic knot
Video duration: 8m 28s 14h 53m Intermediate


Building a classic Celtic knot provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

please wait ...