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Creating Grids

Illustrator's grid tools create objects that are actually made from a series of intersecting or connected lines. There are two types of grids, rectangular and polar. Rectangular grids use straight-line segments to produce boxes arranged in rows and columns. Polar grids use arcs to produce concentric circles that are divided by the radius. Figure 3.17 shows the difference.

Figure 3.17 To the left is a rectangular grid, created from straight-line segments. On the right, arcs and radial segments are aligned to create a polar grid.

Creating with the Rectangular Grid Tool

Double-click the Rectangular Grid tool icon in the Toolbox. That opens the dialog box shown in Figure 3.18.

Figure 3.18 The Rectangular Grid Tool Options dialog box can be used to create default settings for the tool or to numerically create a grid.

Creating a grid numerically requires a bit of information and a bit of practice.

  • The width and height are for the grid as a whole, and the numbers you enter are the dimensions of the rectangle that will be created.

  • The proxy to the right of Width allows you to select the point of origin for the grid. For example, if you click the top-left corner, the grid will be created down and to the right of the point where the tool was clicked on the artboard.

  • The number of horizontal dividers does not include the top and bottom of the rectangle. Rather, it counts just the number of dividing lines. (Add one to the number of dividers to determine the number of rows.)

  • Horizontal skew creates a uniform change in the size of the rows. Use the slider to determine where the larger rows will be, either at the bottom (drag the slider to the left) or at the top of the grid (drag the slider to the right). Figure 3.19 shows some examples of skewed grids.

  • The number of vertical dividers does not include the left and right sides of the rectangle. Rather, it counts just the number of dividing lines. (Add one to the number of dividers to determine the number of columns.)

  • The vertical skew changes the size of the columns, with larger columns created either to the left or right. (See Figure 3.19.)

  • Using the outer rectangle as a frame enables you to include the all-encompassing rectangle as part of the grid. When checked, the outer box of the grid will be a rectangle. When unchecked, the outer box will be four separate paths. (Use the Group Select tool to choose the frame of a grid and adjust its stroke and color.)

  • The fill option allows you to use the current fill color, gradient, or pattern in the grid. (The grid tools automatically use the current stroke color and width to create the lines.) If the option Use Outer Rectangle As Frame is not selected, the grid cannot be filled.

Figure 3.19 The upper-left grid is unskewed. The upper-right grid is skewed 50% horizontally. The lower-left grid is skewed 50% vertically. The fourth grid is skewed 50% in both directions.

Task: Creating with the Polar Grid Tool

The Polar Grid tool creates concentric circles with radial dividers. You can set the options in the dialog box shown in Figure 3.20. To open the box, double-click the Polar Grid tool icon in the Toolbox.

Figure 3.20 The Polar Grid Tool Options dialog box is comparable to Figure 3.18 for the Rectangular Grid tool.

Concentric dividers are the circles, while radial dividers are the lines extending from the center.

  1. With the Polar Grid Tool Options dialog box open, set the width and height to 250 pt.

  2. Use 5 concentric dividers and 15 radial dividers, both skew sliders set to zero.

  3. Ignore the two checkboxes at the bottom of the dialog box.

  4. Click OK.

  5. Select all and delete.

  6. Click the Polar Grid tool in the center of the artboard and begin dragging toward the lower-right corner.

  7. Press the Shift key. The grid's proportions will be constrained to a perfect circle. Release Shift, but keep the mouse button down.

  8. Press the Option (Mac)/Alt (Windows) key. The grid will be created from the center. Release the Option (Mac)/Alt (Windows) key, but continue to hold down the mouse button.

  9. Press the up arrow key several times to increase the number of concentric dividers. Press the down key to decrease the number of concentric dividers.

  10. Press the right arrow key to increase the number of radial dividers, and the left arrow to decrease.

  11. Release the mouse button.

If you'd like to see the specifications of the grid you just created, open the Polar Grid Tool Options dialog box once again. The box will show the numbers for the most recently created grid.

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