How to create amazing spirals in Adobe Illustrator Tutorial

How to add to and enhance spirals paths in Adobe Illustrator using a variety of techniques such as width profiles and blobs

honeycomb frame for Photoshop

Setup for spirals in Illustrator

OK, the spiral path in Illustrator is pretty good to begin with Illustrator and you can generate a number of variations just by changing some of the spiral settings by clicking the artboard (or in my case, double clicking as I never get things to respond first time around). OK, once you have the basic spiral it has a stroke setting and that is about it and it is made up of as number of points. You can add to it in a number of ways and this is only a few options.

 

You can also find additional spirals such as Illustrator spiral symbols and spiral fonts and spiral brushes

 

Stroke options

You can add a round cap to the selected spiral path as well as dash options via the stroke options dropdown to create some amazing spiral paths in Illustrator

 

Width profiles

Select the spiral and then go to the stroke and set to say 60pt and set to black and then go to the width profile dropdown. The number of width profiles is fairly minimal and I would love to see more added in future versions. There is an add width profile but all the profiles I have added (and I have added many over the years) never seem to remain and the list goes back to the default set. Anyway, you can add any of the existing profiles and that will add a lot more style to the spiral in seconds. You can also manipulate the profile by using the width tool and the tool can change the width at any point along the path and not just at anchor points. You can make thin as well as thick widths but they are all symmetric. It is a pity that the widths cannot be split so the right side is a different width to the left. You can click the 'width bar' as well as the point and drag that back and forth along the path to change the size left and right or as it lists it, side 1 and side 2. There are tools available from the Astute Graphic's plugin range called 'WidthScribe' that can manipulate the profile in 100s of ways though ultimately the same results can be achieved (albeit more slowly) by just tweaking the profile via the tool (you can find a demo on the Astute Graphic's site). The result can be expanded via the expand appearance command found in the object menu though the end result can generate a lot of extra points. The cleanup of the extra points can also be used to create some interesting spirals

 

Simplify

Using the simplify (found in the object and path menu) combined with the widths you can generate some very interesting and unique spirals. By reducing the curve precision of the simplify you can generate more hand drawn like spirals. The straight line option is probably the most interesting if you wish to create square like spirals or chunkier types and you can do this by combining the results with changes to the angle threshold. Some of the path designs generated will be just a random collection of points but setting the perfect angle threshold will result in some truly abstract artworks.

 

Brush strokes

You can create all kinds of weird and wonderful spirals by adding a stroke width along with selecting brush definitions. As you can add all kinds of paths to the brush panel, all kinds of wonderful artworks can be generated using the source spiral (such as dots and splatters and rough inks, text, images etc). You can add multiple brush definitions by using the appearance palette.

 

Spirals and Appearance panel

You can combine width profiles and additional strokes to the path by using the appearance panel (found in the window menu). You can add additional fills but they are generally of no use. You can also use effects as well such as blurring the spiral etc and all those settings can be controlled via the appearance panel. Go to the right side menu with the selected spiral path and then add additional stroke. If the current stroke is set to 60pt then to see both, one of the strokes have to be slightly smaller or you have to use blending modes / transparency. You can also use different width profiles with the different strokes as well as combine that with the width tool - so at a single point you can have multiple thick and thin profiles and they can be very varied along the path.

 

Effects added to the spiral paths

You can add gaussian blurs etc to the spiral path as well or perhaps shadows. These can all be manipulated via the appearance panel. You can also use other tools such as the awesome symbol stipplism or stipplism plugin from Astute Graphics' range to create amazing fills for the path

 

Blob tool

Once you have expanded the spiral via the expand appearance command, you can add additional blobs to the spiral path via the blob tool. You can add small blobs as well as long thick lines. You can add them to the edge of the path but you can also use the blob tool to join the different arms of the artwork. The opposite to the blob tool being the eraser tool, you can remove parts of the path creating a mottled spiral path (of course, you can also just use the ellipse tool etc and add different color spots etc or lines along the path as well).

 

The end result being a greatly enhanced artwork which can be added to the CC library or exported for use in Photoshop etc

 

Other tutorials

You can find many additional tutorials on the site such as how to customize the photoshop toolbar and how to export SVG files from Illustrator and how to use the live ellipse shape tool in Illuustrator and how to use the live line segment tool in Illustrator

 

Video tutorial

Please check out our video tutorial on Youtube.com