How To Create Geometric Collages in Adobe Illustrator (Part 2)

How To Create Geometric Collages in Adobe Illustrator (Part 2)

In this tutorial we will continue with the creation of geometric collages where we have stopped in the first part. I will explain you my approach to create templates which were set for homework.

Simplicity is perfect

That's what the Italian's say and I couldn't agree more. Do not be tricked, it's not that easy to learn to simplify and break things down. You need practice and you need to start from something. That's the purpose of this and previous tutorial.

What I want to show you is that everything is actually very easy and you do not need to know all the options and commands to achieve whatever you want to achieve or to create. Adobe products are not complex, but rather powerful tools which allow you to get perfect and intended result even and as a beginner.

If you proceed your exploration to more advanced user then you'll get speed. Quality and precision will remain the same or in other words you can create most of the things just by knowing the very basic tools and options. The requirement is as many times already stressed: you need to learn how to break things down.

Steps to create geometric collages

In the previous post I gave you some examples under homework section and its time to show you and explain my solutions. Lets see how to break down and create example number 3.

Step 1 Break things down
What we can see from example below is that we can break things to smallest unit which is square rotated for 45 degrees. I know that in advance, but it is easy to figure out on your own, just try different rotation numbers. We have small and bigger squares.

What we can do is to create a grid with rotated squares and then simply to merge few of them in order to get bigger ones. Furthermore, we can work relaxed without to measure every little and a while. We can create a much larger grid and then to define areas of our final product followed by deletion of sufficient units. Since we are working with vectors there are not penalty when enlarging and scaling down things so we can play as much as we want.
sample collage to create

Step 2 Draw square
In this step you need to grab Rectangle Tool (M) and to click once on the canvas. I will type 100px for Width and Height, you can use any number and measurement unit.
draw square

Step 3 Rotate square
In this step, with the square selected, grab Rotate Tool (R) and Alt/Opt + click in the middle of the square then enter 45 for the Angle and press OK.
rotate square

Step 4 Duplicate shape
In this step we will duplicate shape couple of times. With the rotated square selected, click on the Transform link in the Options bar and copy value for Width or Height (Width in general but this time there is no difference since we are working with square).
copy values from transform link

Double click on the Selection Tool (V) in the Toolbox and paste copied value in the Horizontal text field leaving Vertical to 0 (zero), then click the Copy button in the left bottom corner. This will move the selected shape for the exact value that you need (Width of the shape) and make another instance (Copy).
move and copy rotated square

Now you can press Ctrl/Cmd + D (Object > Transform Again) on your keyboard to make few more copies.
square duplicated couple of times

Step 5 Duplicate entire row(s)
In this step we will select all our little shapes and duplicate them in the simplest way: with the Selection Tool active, hold down Alt/Opt and drag toward bottom. You will see feedback: intersect and you will know when to release the mouse button.
duplicate first row

Repeat process with 2, 4 rows selected. You should end-up with the grid similar to what you see on the screenshot below.
duplicating rows finished

Step 6 Define what you want to keep
It's time to use Rectangle Tool and to draw shape which will define what we want to keep. While drawing, you should set Stroke and remove Fill so you can see what falls inside shape that you are drawing. While drawing use advantage of the feedback which you are receiving: center, intersect or anchor which tells you that your drawing will start or end exactly where you want it.
center feedback

intersect feedback

Step 7 Pathfinders: Divide
Now we need to use Window > Pathfinder panel. Select everything and click on Divide beneath Pathfinders. This operation will cut (divide) some rotated squares on the edges and create additional pieces that you may need. To finish this step go to Object > Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + G).
pathfinder divide

Step 8 Delete sufficient pieces
Now you can use the Selection Tool to draw marque and to select pieces outside of the rectangle which defines our final product. Use Backspace or Delete to delete selected items.
delete sufficient pieces

Step 9 Shape Builder Tool
The remaining part is to use Shape Builder Tool (Shift + W) and to merge some pieces into bigger ones. Select everything, then activate tool and finally drag over shapes which you want to merge.
use shape builder to merge shapes

collage finished

What about other geometric samples?

Well, you can easily deconstruct things based on what we have done in this and previous tutorial. If you draw square and rotate it for 45 degrees then you can draw vertical or horizontal (or both) line and to get symmetric triangles. Use Divide from Pathfinder panel after drawing line and the rest is... tutorial above.
other geometric samples


As you have seen in previous two tutorials it is all about breaking things down to smaller and simplest unit, not in knowledge of all available features. Knowing all options will only speed up process what is desired, but not ultimate requirement.

If I did my job well then you can start creating your own geometric collages without precise step by step tutorials. Otherwise, please leave comments or contact me for additional help or information. If there is something that you do not understand, simply tell me which part and I will update the tutorial as needed.

Related tutorials:

Product used in this tutorial:
Adobe Illustrator CC 2014


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