Illustrator Tricks

Tips To Speed Up Your Creative Flow

While putting together a new website for Mission Seven Five I needed to create two very basic graphic assets to use on each webpage. The first was a shape that resembles a foil seal commonly used on merit awards or to close envelopes containing special invitations. The second was a basic rectangular box with a repeating stripe slanted at 45-degrees.

These shapes are fairly simple but some may find them difficult to create. Follow along and I’ll show you a very simple way to render each.

First we’ll make the foil seal.

Step One

Open Illustrator, create a new file and select the Star Tool. The Star Tool is hidden under the Rectangle Tool (M), so you may need to click on the Rectangle Tool (M) until the fly out menu becomes visible where you can select it.

Illustrator Tricks

With the Star Tool selected click anywhere on the blank artboard and begin dragging out a star shape.

Illustrator Tricks

By default Illustrator creates a five-pointed star. Using the up arrow key on the computer keyboard we can add more points to the star shape. Add 19 points to the five-pointed star to make a 24-point foil seal shape.

Add twenty-four points

Adjust the peaks and valleys of the star points by holding down the Command (Control on a PC) key and moving the cursor toward the outside of the star shape.

Adjust Using Command Key

Step Two

Next, eliminate the stroke outlining the shape by selecting None for the stroke color.

Eliminate Stroke Color

Then choose a color to fill in the design. The color I am using has a hex-decimal value of #E3AE4E.

Add Fill Color

Finally, adjust your shape to what ever size you need. Pretty simple, yeah?

Adjust Size

Now let’s take a look at the rectangle with the striping pattern.

Step One

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) make a rectangle with a width of 15px and a height of 175px.

Make Rectangle

Switch to the Select Tool (V) and move the curser to the upper right corner until two arrows appear indicating we can rotate the rectangle. Click and hold the Shift key while moving the cursor clockwise. You should see the rectangle rotate in 45-degree increments. Release the mouse once you rotate the rectangle 45-degrees.

Rotate Rectangle

Step Two

Next we will duplicate the rectangle. In the appearance panel click on the Add A New Effect icon located on the bottom row of icons.

Select FX Icon

Select the Transform option found under the Distort & Transform menu.

Select Transform Effect

In the pop up Transform Effect panel type 10 in the copies field and 40px in the horizontal move field. Check the preview box to see the transformation to the rectangle in real time. Click OK.

Enter Transform Details

Step Three

Now we’ll make a second, larger rectangle to use as a mask to contain the stripes we just made. With the Rectangle Tool (M) selected make a rectangle with a width of 290px and a height of 100px.

Make A Second Rectangle

Position the rectangle using the Selection Tool (V) so it sits centered on top of the stripes.

Position Rectangle

Once centered, type Command+A (Control+A on a PC) to select all the rectangles. Finally, right-click and choose Make Clipping Mask to complete the striped shape. Again, pretty simple, yeah?

Select All And Clipping Mask

Final Image

Using simple shapes and functions within Illustrator we can generate interesting design elements for any project you are working on. Don’t overlook the easy stuff as it may be just what is needed to make your work shine.

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Like street art, the avant-garde, vintage wares and experimental imagery? Check out Mission Seven Five, a new shop specializing in graphic prints and posters. M75 opens this spring.

Find the latest creative work from the WE Team at General Industry, the online shop for WE Design Studios.

  • Angela Muir

    how is there so much i don’t know about illustrator and i use it all the time! Thanks for this guys, it was super helpful!

    • http://wedesignstudios.com/ WE Design Studios

      Glad you found the tutorial helpful. We’ll be posting another one soon.