After I posted this time lapse video a few days ago, several people asked me about some of the menus and features I was using to create the design in Illustrator. I thought it would be fun to go through the steps and show you how to create a simple kaleidoscope design of your own.
Please note for the purposes of following along, I’m using Adobe Illustrator CS3. Hopefully soon I’ll be updating my Mac and my Adobe software and can quit drooling all over the shiny new products in the Apple store.
1. Open a new document. Change your dimensions so that the document is square. If you’re going to print your artwork at home, you’ll probably want to make sure it fits on a standard 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper. I made my document 7″ x 7″.
2. Use Command/R to turn on your rulers. Use your guidelines to mark the halfway point on both the horizontal and vertical sizes of your art board.
3. From your toolbar, select the ellipse tool. Click on the center point where your guidelines meet, and use option/Shift to draw a circle radiating from that point.
4. In your layers menu, label this layer “guides.” Lock the first layer, then create a new layer which you’ll name “shapes”.
5. At the top of your circle (at what would be the 12:00 point), use your pen tool to draw a shape on the left side of your vertical guideline. Make the shape as simple or complex as you want.
6. Using the reflect tool from the tool menu, hit option/click to reflect the image vertically.
7. Select both shapes, and use the “Add to Shapefinder” option from your pathfinder toolbar to merge the two shapes together.
8. With your shape selected, go to your rotation tool. Option/click on the point where your guidelines intersect at the center of the circle.
9. When the menu pops up, type 360/12 (you can make the second number bigger or smaller. This is how many times your shape will repeat around the circle). Hit the “Copy” button.
10. Hit Command/D (Repeat action) until the shape is repeated all the way around your circle.
11. Select all of your shapes. Using your Pathfinder toolbox, select the Divide option. This will break up your design into smaller shapes where they shapes overlap. (If the shapes in your design don’t overlap, you can skip this step).
12. Using your direct selection arrow (the white one), select sections of your design to recolor. You can also delete portions of the design if you wish.
13. Once your design is recolored to your liking, select the entire thing again. Group everything together using Command/G.
14. Choose your scale tool from the toolbar. With your design selected, click at the point where your guidelines cross at the center of the circle at hit option/click. Scale your image (I scaled to 60%). Hit the “Copy” button. You’ll now have a smaller copy of your design in the center of your circle.
15. Hit Command/D to repeat the action one more time. Now you’ll have an even smaller copy on the image in the middle of the circle.
16. Select your middle design. Go to Edit–>Edit Colors–>Recolor Artwork. From the menu that pops up ,select the button to randomly change the color order. Watch as the colors in your design flip around. Keep hitting the button until you’re happy with the ways the colors look, then hit “OK”
17. With your rectangle tool, draw a square that covers the entire area of your page (in this case 7″ x 7″). Select a color for the inside, with no fill. Select Object–>Arrange–>Send to Back to place it behind your kaleidoscope design.
18. Unlock your guide layer and delete it or turn it off.
19. Go to File–>Export and save your file as a jpg.
20. You’re done! Print your design, or save it as a cool new desktop image.
Questions? Comments? Did you encounter any problems?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll try to help!
If you aren’t feeling tech saavy, or don’t have access to Adobe Illustrator, don’t worry. If you like what you see, you can find many works of art created with a more in-depth version of this very process in my Etsy shop.