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How to Make Jagged Edges in Illustrator

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Learn how to create jagged edges using Adobe Illustrator! Creating a zig-zag Illustrator effect can be a tricky and tedious process if done manually. However, Adobe Illustrator can create perfectly sized zig-zag line Illustrator effects and more!

Do you prefer video tutorials to learn new skills? This new cool video from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel will teach you what you need to know:

What You'll Learn in This Illustrator Tutorial

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to make jagged edges in Illustrator that are versatile and easy to edit. At the end of this tutorial, you'll have all the skills you need to create your own zig-zag patterns and zig-zag effect Illustrator images that you can use for your projects. Topics we cover will include:

  • How to create a zig-zag line in Illustrator
  • How to create a smooth wave line in Illustrator
  • How to edit your zig-zag effect
create zig-zagscreate zig-zagscreate zig-zags

How to Create a Zig-Zag Line in Illustrator

Step 1

So how do we create a zig-zag line in Adobe Illustrator? Well, first we need to create an object for Illustrator to work from. For this example we will use a line, but this effect can be applied to a shape (or both) as well. To do this, simply use the Pen Tool (P) or the Rectangle Tool (M) if you wish to create a shape.

To draw a straight line, hold down the Shift Key on the keyboard whilst creating it. This will act as our main object to apply the zigzag in Illustrator.

draw linedraw linedraw line

Step 2

Now with the line selected, go to the top menu bar and select Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag to apply the zigzag in Illustrator.

transform zig-zagtransform zig-zagtransform zig-zag

Step 3

When the new window pops up, make sure that the Preview option has been selected so that you can see the changes you make to your shape.

allow previewallow previewallow preview

Step 4

Now let's play around with the controls to see how it affects the look of our zig-zag line Illustrator effect! 

The first option at the top is Size. This controls the height of the zig-zag effect on the Illustrator object.

zig-zag sizezig-zag sizezig-zag size

Step 5

Next we have Ridges per Segment, which increases or decreases the number of zig-zags we have on the line. 

zig-zag ridgeszig-zag ridgeszig-zag ridges

Step 6

Next we have the option to choose between Smooth or Corner, which will give you smooth wavy lines or sharp pointy ones respectively.

smooth smooth smooth

Step 7  

From here, you can always return to adjust the look of your zig-zag object by going to the Appearance Menu. This can be accessed by going to the top menu bar and selecting Window > Appearance.

You can adjust the stroke thickness and colour here as well!

appearance panelappearance panelappearance panel

Awesome! You're Finished!

Congratulations! And that's how to create a zig-zag line in Illustrator. I hope you found this tutorial helpful and that you've learned some new tips and tricks that you can use for your own projects. See you next time!


Top 5 Graphics From Envato Elements

Now that you know how to make jagged edges in Illustrator, why not experiment with some other stock images? Want to use some graphics for your projects but short on time? Then head on over to Envato Elements, where you can download many different illustrations and designs that you can use. Here are five of my favourites.

Zigzag Backgrounds (JPG, PNG)

Zigzag BackgroundsZigzag BackgroundsZigzag Backgrounds

This zig-zag background pack contains ten different pattern backgrounds for you to enjoy and use in your own projects. The files are high-quality and print-ready at a 3000 x 2000 pixel resolution. 

Geometric Seamless Patterns (AIEPS, PNG)

Zig Zag Gradient BackgroundsZig Zag Gradient BackgroundsZig Zag Gradient Backgrounds

This clean, high-quality gradient background pack contains another ten seamless pattern designs that are perfect to use for web, apps, presentations, printing, banners, wallpaper, and more! The files are 300 dpi at 6000 x 4000 resolution.

Geometric Seamless Patterns (AI, EPS, PNG)

Geometric Seamless PatternsGeometric Seamless PatternsGeometric Seamless Patterns

This high-resolution pack contains three geometric seamless patterns that are fully editable. The vector format allows you to scale up without the loss of any quality. These are perfect for creating cards, backgrounds, banners, and more!

Pattern Background (AI, EPS, PNG)

Pattern BackgroundPattern BackgroundPattern Background

This pack contains two different variations of this complex pattern background (a colour version and a black and white version). The vector format allows you to scale and easily edit the background, colours, and more, without any loss of quality.

Isometric Seamless Maze Pattern (EPS)

Isometric seamless Maze patternIsometric seamless Maze patternIsometric seamless Maze pattern

Here's something if you're looking for a pattern that's a little more 3D! This seamless maze pattern is created in a vector format, so you can easily change the colour gradients and scale it up without any loss of quality.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial on how to create a zig-zag line in Illustrator. If you'd like to learn more cool Illustrator skills, we've got more tutorials for you:

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