Design Challenge Day 10: Geometric Snowflakes in Illustrator

Creating Geometric Snowflakes in Illustrator

Last week might not have been the best week for the second week of a daily challenge. In addition to focusing on honing my Adobe Creative Cloud skills, I'm investing in myself by taking the time to network and learn from others in and out of my industry. I spent two days out of the office at conferences; Monday at PRSA Oregon's Communicators Conference and Friday at the ThinkMujer Summit, an incredible gathering of Latina leadership in Portland. I'm only a *little* behind on everything right now, including my May Design Challenge. So you're getting Day 10's tutorial on Day 11, but hopefully this will be my last late post.

Given that I've started off the last two weeks with Teela Cunningham's Every-Tuesday tutorials, I figured I'd continue the trend. I'm "cheating" again, as this is a tutorial I took a while back - in fact, it's the one that made me become a fan of Every-Tuesday. This Illustrator tutorial showing how to create geometric snowflakes may be out of season (at least here in Portland), but the skills I picked up can be used all year round.

The Process

This starts of with the creation of a color palette, as do most of Teela's tutorials. This is actually very smart, as you'll be creating various objects within the same color family; having the palette in front of you allows you to grab a color quickly using the shortcut for the eyedropper tool (Command-I).

The snowflakes themselves are made up of simple shapes that are rotated perfectly. These are mostly a series of lines, rectangles transformed into diamonds, and small ellipses. Once these shapes are expanded and grouped, then the fun begins. The shapes are rotated and copied to place at specific angles depending on the number of shapes you want around the snowflake (e.g., if you want 12 shapes, you divide 360 by 12, meaning each shape is rotated 30 degrees). The always-awesome Command-D becomes your friend, repeating that prior step to create a perfect circle.

Snowflakes and bonus non-snowflakey circular patterns I created

Snowflakes and bonus non-snowflakey circular patterns I created

The Presentation

You know that I love Teela's style and presentation. This tutorial is no exception; it was probably the most straightforward, easy-to-follow one I've ever taken. She breaks down each step and shows it clearly on screen, demonstrating how small changes (like the placement of the rotate point or the angle of rotation) can make a huge difference in the finished product.


This tutorial has a huge takeaway: using these steps with different shapes creates beautiful, intricate flowers or simple round (vector!) borders with perfectly spaced stars, hearts, or any other shape. (I even tried it with lettering, but it made me a little dizzy - this is best used with geometric shapes.)

May Design Challenge: Day 10

Since I originally took this tutorial, I've used the skills I picked up in it quite a bit. I've had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for incorporating this into projects; maybe I'll create some mandala coloring pages next!