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Repeating shapes in Illustrator

Here's a simple tip I came across for quickly creating repeating shapes in Illustrator. Give it a try it.

Estimated reading time: 1 minutes

Table of contents

The effect

Here’s the effect we are after. It is simple with the shortcut.

Spiral Final Effect

First lets create a rectangle and fill it with the a gradient.


For decorative effect I’ve added in a couple of motifs from the excellent free brushes provided by Bittbox.

Gradient with Brushes

Now select the Spiral Tool. Select no fill and a white stroke of 1pt. Click and hold to draw the spiral. Do not release the click (this is important). Holding your first click and hold the ~ button (Tilde) ~. On a Mac it is located next to the left shift button.

With the button depressed move your mouse around and you will see the shape duplicating over and over. Mastering the effect takes a little practice but you should be up and running in no time.

Watch the video below to see it in action.

Tweaking the result

Personally I find all those lines a bit much. As each line it a separate path you can call up the Layers panel and turn off paths to calm it down a bit. Here’s how mine ended up.

Spiral Final Effect

Expanding the effect

This works with lots of other tools including all the tools within the rectangle tool and line segment tool so get experimenting!

Have an update or suggestion for this article? You can edit it here and send me a pull request.


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