Polar grid tool

The polar grid tool in Illustrator is a powerful radial and line path creation tool in Illustrator CC 2019 2018 - CS6 CS5 CS4 etc.


Intro to the polar grid in Illustrator

Location of the polar grid

Change settings of tool

Fill artboards with polar grids

Expand and ungroup

Use with color

Export and save for use in other apps

Use in Photoshop

Create concentric circles

Shattered effect

Create starbursts using the polar tool

Create square ring design

Flare tool

Illustrator tools

Freebie polar grids

Intro. A quick intro to the polar grid in Illustrator.

  1. Goto Polar grid tool in the Illustrator toolbar beneath the line segment tool

  2. Double click polar grid tool icon in the Illustrator toolbar for settings

  3. Set the concentric dividers value

  4. Set the radial dividers and click OK

  5. Apply the tool by dragging from origin point on the artboard

  6. Set stroke and stroke width for the resulting Illustrator polar grid

You can modify the tool settings in many ways such as changing the concentric and radial settings to create a vast range of unique paths which can then in turn be manipulated by other tools in the application such as adding brush strokes and width profiles to the artwork.


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Location of the tool. As with most tools that you actually want to use, it is tucked away and hidden. The polar grid tool can be found beneath the line segment tool in the toolbar. Once you have selected the tool, you can apply the tool with the current stroke as well as set all the various values for the tool.

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Settings. You can change the settings of the polar grid in Illustrator by double clicking the icon or pressing the return key. That will cause the settings panel to appear. It is a modal dialog so to get rid of it you will have to click the cancel button or the OK. The following settings are available. Set the default size width and height (though this can also be set interactively as you apply the tool to the artboard). Number of concentric dividers - set to 0 and you will end up with the radial design. Skew for the concentric dividers. Number of radial dividers - set to 0 and you will end up with the concentric rings. Bottom skew for the radial dividers. Create compound path from ellipse - instead of getting a solid color, you will end up with one path filled, one path not and so on. Fill grid - if you set that to be on then the current color will be used, otherwise the tool will just generate it using the artwork

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Multiple copies. Fill artboards with your grids. You can use Illustrator polar grid tool once or multiple times and you can generate a vast number of paths which can be used as backgrounds or overlays. You can use the tool to create multiple artworks which can then be used to create backgrounds or overlays. You can add the designs on top of each other. You can spread them throughout the document. You can set them to different colors. You can set them to different sizes and you can set them to different radial dividers and more. Of course, you can also simply use the tool once (and duplicate the same artwork using the ALT key). Once you have duplicated the polar grid design then you can always use tools such as color guide or the adjust color command or just edit the individual slices or cells to create unique designs.

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Expand and ungroup. The result of the Illustrator polar grid tool can also be expanded and ungrouped and then just used as a normal path as well as exported for use in other apps such as Photoshop. You can expand the object via the object menu and the expand commands. How the parts of the design are ungrouped depends on if you are using it as a set of strokes or you have the grid as a set of filled cells (such as using live paint tool to fill the cells). You may also find that you have to ungroup the artwork multiple times via the object menu and ungroup as a single ungroup often leaves the design untouched. Once you have applied enough ungroups, you should have a set of cells or lines to work with. The individual parts of the design can then be manipulated either by changing the color or adding effects or perhaps adding transformations to the individual paths.

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Color. You can use the Illustrator polar grid tool in any color, fill and stroke. You can manipulated the generated color using tools such as the color guide or the edit menu color adjustments. You can use the color features to create 1000s of great designs from this single tool. You can also use plugins such as Phantasm from Astute graphics to update the colors in many different ways. You can also change the color by using other plugins that come with the application. You can use the tool to create countless designs such as pies which can be filled with different colors, starbursts, star designs, manga designs, slices, rings, echoes and many more. The example here is a pie slice where one of the cells or slices generated via the radial = 5 and concentric = 0 has been removed via expand and ungroup and deleting a single cell. Changing the concentric and radial settings can result in a whole range of different designs. Many different combinations can be created such as setting the radial to 0 and the concentric to a large number and a starburst like design can be created and as with the pie slice or cell designs, the individual stroke lines can be manipulated in countless ways and the results exported for use in other applications.

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Export. How to use the polar grid in other applications ? such as Photoshop You can save the artwork to the AI symbols panel and then use the polar grid as a wonderful symbol. You can also save the artwork via the file save command and save as an AI file or SVG (great for putting into web pages in seconds) or saving it to a PDF file. Other options can be to save it to a PNG file for use in raster applications that do not support SVG or EPS etc. You can also simply drag the Illustrator polar grid designs from the artboard into the CC library and the artwork can then be stored safely. OK, so what if you want to use it in another part of the Creative cloud ? You can add the artwork to Photoshop as well as Indesign and After Effects all by using the powerful creative cloud libraries. Create polar grid via the polar grid tool in Illustrator (for use in Photoshop) set radial and concentric etc Drag the path into the new CC libraries.

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Use with effects. How to use in Photoshop CC 2018 etc ? Open Photoshop. Drag the path to the open document from the libraries panel. Select the polar grid artwork in Photoshop. Convert to a smart object (if not already a smart object) via the layer menu and smart objects or flatten and use with filters. Use with filters such as the filter gallery and bas relief or Analog Efex etc. You can, of course, do a lot more with it in the application as well as others such as Affinity Photo (in that case you will have to save the artwork as an EPS file via the save command or export commands). The generated polar grid design can be used as basic backgrounds for images and effects can be added such as bas relief (purple to black color option) in tools such as Photoshop . All kinds of effects can be added to the artwork such as the gallery effects found in the filter menu as well as adding flare effects and NIK plugin effects or plugin effects from graphicxtras Photoshop plugins for use with the layers. It is a layer so you can also use other effects such as layer styles which can be found in the layers menu. You can add a quick drop shadow or gradient overlay to the design. They can then be re-colored in Photoshop using adjustments or adjustment layers etc depending if they are just a layer or used as a smart object. Select the polar grid design in Photoshop and then go to the image menu and use the adjustments there to modify the design. You can also add adjustment layers on top of the design and tweak the colors of the artwork imported into the application. You can then use that to change the design from super colorful to perhaps grayscale / black and white or perhaps turn all the cells into reds and blues say. You can also use the design as a wonderful guide for other fills in Photoshop where the individual cells can be filled with different colors or gradients or type etc. Drag the artwork stored in the CC library (hold alt / option if you want to break the link with the library) to the document and re-size as required. Copy some type (such as an image of type). Select the magic wand tool found in the toolbar. Select a cell using the magic wand. Use the edit menu and paste special / paste into command (the result is a layer). Flatten and then Select another cell and repeat. You can also combine effects such as blurs or perhaps apply transforms to the type to create more interesting fills. To use the artwork as tiles / patterns in Photoshop. You can drag the artwork from the CC libraries to a document (say 1000 x 1000) and then set the size for the artwork to fill the entire document. Flatten the document and then use the filter menu and others category and offset set to 500 x and 500 and wrap around and press OK. Drag another design to the document to fill the entire image and then flatten and then go to the define pattern to create a beautiful radial design tile set for use with patterns and more in PS. Use the layer menu and new fill layer content and set the scale and position as required. You can also just drag the polar grids from the CC libraries and then go to the 3D menu and use new mesh from layer and depth map and select something like sphere to create a weird and wonderful 3D model of the radial design in color for use in your work (it can also be saved quickly to the cc library by dragging it into that panel). You can also export your model via the export 3D layer command. You can always define the generated artwork as a new brush stroke in Photoshop. Drag from the CC libraries and flatten and then go to the edit menu and use the define brush command and then select that preset with the paint tools in the application or perhaps the stamp or clone or art history tool and more - apply across the image and modify the settings for the tool via the brush settings panel found in the window menu.

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Concentric circles. How to create concentric circles using the polar grid tool in Illustrator CC 2019 2018 2017 2015 2014 CS6 etc ? Select the polar grid tool (tool to use to make the concentric circles in Illustrator). Double click the icon. Set the radial divider to zero. Set the concentric divider to 12 or 20 etc to get concentric circles from the polar grid tool. Hold the shift key down. Drag outwards to create the artwork. Release. Set the fill to no color and the stroke to black etc and the width as required. You can ungroup the Illustrator concentric circles and select the individual paths and then re-color the fill and the stroke as well as changing the stroke weight as well as adding dash styles and variable width profiles to the design. You can turn a very basic artwork into a multi-colored hi-impact design in seconds. Create a new path using the tool with the divider setting set as required. If you want a lot of paths to work with then set the divider to a high value. If you don't want too many paths, set the divider to a low value. I generally find the divider setting of 10 is fine but setting it to 40 or so makes it a lot trickier to work with using the live paint as well as selecting the individual paths. Go to the object menu and use the ungroup the Illustrator concentric circles and select the individual paths and then change the stroke width as well as the color etc of the artworks. You can also use the live paint tool to apply color the inner space of the design, you don't need to leave it just as a bare set of lines. Select the live paint tool in the toolbar and hover over the space you want to fill in the path. Set the color via the color picker and then click the space. You can then repeat the same with different colors to create a random color filled artwork. Or perhaps start with black or red at the outer edge of the design and then change the color to approach white as you move to the center with the live paint tool. Expand the live paint before you do any other work. You can then copy the artwork and perhaps use the color guide panel to randomize the colors or create a more harmonious color scheme or use the edit menu and edit colors and adjust color balance to re-color the bands. You can also save the polar grid / concentric circle artwork to the symbols panel or to the CC libraries for future use. You can use the art to create stunning backgrounds in seconds with multiple instances of the work. You can also export the artwork for use in tools such as Photoshop either via the library functionality or using the export commands. Using the export feature means that you can save the artwork as PNG or PSD or JPG files and then use the result in applications such as Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer and GIMP for example. If you use the save menu then you can save the super colorful artwork in AI format and import that into many applications or perhaps SVG and then import the artworks into Photoshop and other applications that support the scalable vector format (also super useful for using the designs on web pages via tools such as Dreamweaver). If you wish to create multiple paths with the same tool then either re-apply the polar tool (you can quickly change the divider setting to create slightly different loops) or you can simply select the alt / option key and path and duplicate the circuits to fill the entire document or artboard. You can also clip the grid using a rectangle or some other path and select that path and the design and then use the object menu and clipping mask and make command You can use the same fill settings and stroke settings as well as widths or width profiles or brush strokes or vary them by selecting the individual grids created and then changing the settings for the entire path (instead of the individual lines). You don't have to just have the basic Illustrator concentric circle paths, you can always add effects to the artwork to create more unusual designs from the basic artwork. Set the divider to 12 and the radial to 0. Set the stroke weight for the path as required. Create the polar grid design and then go to the effect menu and select something like the punk and bloat command (it is found in the distort and transform category) and set the slider for the punk and bloat as required. You can then go to the object menu and use the expand appearance command to return the lines to a normal path which can then be again manipulated with tools such as live paint. Of course, you don't have to use just the punk and bloat, any number of tools can be used to alter the art such as tweak or zigzag etc


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Shattered. How to create a quick shattered circle effect using the polar grid in CC 2019 2018 2017 2015 etc. Go to the polar grid tool, Double click the polar grid tool icon to display the options. Set concentric to 0. Set radial to 14 and click OK. Goto the live paint bucket in Illustrator toolbar (found beneath the shape builder tool). Change color of fill and click one of the slices. Repeat with different colors for all the slices in the circle. Expand button (on top bar). Object menu (and ungroup command) three times. Select the slices and drag from the center so they are away from the center of the circle at random distances. The result of the ungroup is a solid circle and a set of lines (not slices). To turn them into slices, use the live paint tool to fill all the slices with the same color or different colors and then move the slices to different positions. It does require a few additional ungroups to get at the slices or you could separate all the slices by using the isolation mode (double click the polar grid). You can see the pie slice applied by ungrouping and then dragging the individual paths to a different position.

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Create starbursts. How to create starbursts in Adobe Illustrator CC 2019 2018 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 CS4 etc tutorial. Goto the polar grid tool in the toolbar to create the starburst in Illustrator. Double click to display the settings. Set the concentric to 0. Set the radial to 30 (as with the image on the left). Object menu. Ungroup. Delete the bounding circle path. If you set the concentric dividers to zero (you still get a backing circle which can be deleted by ungrouping the path and deleting the circle) and setting the radial dividers to say 40 - you get a starburst or star in seconds. Once you have the starburst design, you can then add other effects etc to the artwork. As this is Illustrator, you don't need to stop there and you can apply live effects to the lines as well as variable width profiles (option bar) or brush strokes. Select all the generated lines of the polar grid (though you can select alternate lines or perhaps the top set of lines). Set the color of the stroke. Go to the variable with profiles. Select one such as width profile 4. Expand appearance via the object menu Select all paths. Go to the pathfinder and Unite. You can then add other paths to the design such as a circle to the center of the generated polar artwork and then select both and then select the minus front in the pathfinder panel. Select the lines of the ungrouped polar grid. Go to the width profiles at the top of the screen and select the width profile 4 and set the color of the strokes. Go to the effects menu and Twist and Set to 45 and click Ok. Object menu and expand appearance and Pathfinder panel and unite. Many different radial designs can be created using the polar grid tool as a start point. You can then add effects to extended them in countless ways and as effects are live until you expand them, you can edit the artwork over and over. You can also simply store the artwork as a new symbol for additional presets or perhaps add it to the CC libraries for use in AI as well as Photoshop and After Effects and Premiere for example. You can also use the polar grid to create the design and then add brushes to the generated artwork. As brushes can be any kind of design, many different interstellar designs or galactic artworks can be created in seconds and they can then be extended either further or expanded or re-colored and more. As with above, you can create a very basic stroke design but instead of adding a width profile, you can add a brush. You can use your own brushes, you can use the brushes supplied with the application and so on. Create a red circle. Create another red circle but make it smaller and place a distance away from the first circle. Select both and align horizontally. Go to the blend tool and double click and set the spacing to steps (say 5. Click the first circle and then the next with the blend tool. Object menu and expand and display the brushes panel. Drag the paths into the brushes panel and Set to artistic and click ok. Go back to the generated lines. Select them and Apply generated brush by selecting it in the brush panel. Object menu and expand appearance and Pathfinder and unite. Or just create a path using the curvature tool such as a wavy / curved design and then add that to the brushes panel. Apply the wavy / curved brush to the generated artwork. You can also then add variable width profiles to further modify the artwork in even more ways such as applying a width profile one to the strokes. You can also use the width tool to further modify the work.


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Square set of rings. Create square ring design by using the Illustrator polar grid. Go to the tool and double click the icon and then set the concentric to something like 50 and radial to 0 and then apply with a small stroke weight. Generate the artwork and the result will be a set of rings. Select the rectangle tool and apply over the top of the concentric circles. Select both sets of paths. Go to the properties panel and use the align tools to center the alignment for the two artworks and object menu and clipping mask and make. You don't need to create it with 50, it could been 100 or 20 etc and you can use red or green etc as the design. You can also add effects to the artwork such as effect menu and distort and zigzag and set the preview to ON and set to smooth and increase the size and ridges to a certain point where the lines start to overlap and then click OK (the example adjacent). You can create a variety of different designs using different combinations of values as well as using others such as punk and bloat. You can also fill the rippled designs if you release the clipping mask via the object menu and clipping mask and release and then go to the live paint tool and add the colors to the individual cells.

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Freebies. Selection of free polar grids for use in Illustrator CC 2019 in AI format. Free download

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