|St. Patrick's Day Shamrocks in Illustrator, p. 1|
St. Patrick's Day Shamrocks!
Drawing a Shamrock and an Introduction to the Gradient Mesh Tool in Illustrator
The Gradient Mesh tool lets you selectively apply color using a mesh. Not only can you decide where the color is placed on the image, the mesh is connected by points that can be moved to adjust where the color lies on the image. The curve of the mesh itself can also be adjusted using bezier handles. This is a great way to add shading or a painted look to the vector images you draw in Illustrator.
Drawing the shamrock
We're going to use three identical hearts to draw the shamrock. In my last tutorial, I showed you how to draw a heart using the shape and pen tools. There is an even easier way I'll show you this time. (I know what you're thinking. "Now she tells us!" But a little pen tool never hurt anybody!) This tutorial uses Illustrator CS, but it will work in Illustrator 9 or 10 as well, but some of the commands may be in different places.
Step 1. Start a new document in Illustrator (File > New) in RGB color. Turn on the Rulers (View > Rulers). Right click on the ruler to set the unit of measurement and choose pixels. I chose pixels since I'm working for the web. In the color boxes at the bottom of the toolbox, I chose no fill and a green outline. This is so you can see better to line up the diamond and circles we'll be using to make the heart which will be used for the individual shamrock leaves.
Step 2. Select the rectangle tool from the tool box. Click the mouse once on an empty space on the artboard to open the rectangle tool options, and type in 72 for both width and height. Click OK and a 72 pixel square will appear on the artboard.
Step 3. Go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Enter 45 for the degree of the angle and click OK. You should have a diamond shape.
Step 4. Choose the ellipse tool from the tool box and click once on the artboard to open the tool options. Again, enter 72 for both width and height. Click OK and the circle appears on the artboard. Make sure View > Snap to Point is enabled. Drag the circle so it lines up exactly on the upper left slant of the diamond. You will feel a small "snap" as the circle snaps into place on the square.
Step 5. Click once on the circle outline to select it. Because it has no fill, you will have to be careful to click on the outline of the circle. Go to Edit > Copy, and then Edit > Paste in Front. Even though you cannot see it, this has placed a perfect copy of the circle directly on top of the original one, and it will be selected.
©2005 Sara Froehlich