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Quick Tip: Create High Tech Style HUD Rings in Illustrator


This Quick Tip tutorial will show you how to make high tech style HUD rings in Illustrator. The same effect can be easily achieved in Photoshop with "Polar Coordinate". However, "Polar Coordinate" is not available in Illustrator.
So we will be using a different approach here to achieve the same effect. We will be using the pathfinder tool and creating Art Brushes. We then use the brushes we created to make the HUD rings.

Step 1

Open a new document in Illustrator. You can set it to the size you prefer to work in. In my case I have it set at 500px by 500px. Next turn on the grid (View > Show Grid) and set the Snap to Grid.

Step 2

Use the rectangle tool (M) and turn off stroke and turn on fill to any color you like and start drawing any rectangular shape you would like to see in your HUD rings. Be creative, or you could follow what I have in the picture.

With the grid and snap to grid functions turned on, you can easily just fill in the grid to the shape you desire. Fill the entire width of your canvas.

Alternatively, you can fill in only half of the width of the canvas to get the half circle shape, however you must also fill in the remaining of the width of the canvas with rectangle shape with fill and stroke turn off.

Step 3

Once you are done drawing the pattern you like, select all (Control + A) the rectangular shapes you have drawn to make up the pattern. Now use the pathfinder tool, click on 'Unite' (remember to hold down 'Alt' key when you click on 'Unite'), then press 'Expand'.

Now you have just made your first pattern for your high tech style ring.

If you have created a pattern that only fills up half the width of the canvas; when using the pathfinder tool; only select the rectangles with fill on.

To use the pathfinder tool, you can go under Effect > Pathfinder, or press (Control + Shift + F9) to open the pathfinder tool palette.

Step 4

Repeat Step 2 and 3 as many time as you like. In my case, I made a total of 7 different patterns.

Step 5

Now select all (Control + A) your patterns and drag them into the brush palette. Alternatively, you can click on the "New Brush" button at the bottom of the brush palette. "New Brush" window will pop up. Now choose "Art Brush" and click OK.

You can name your brush any name you like or leave it as the default name. Under Colorization > Method, choose "Tints" from the drop down menu box. Click OK, and now you have just created your own brush pattern.

Step 6

Alternatively, you can choose to set each individual pattern as an "Art Brush". Once you are done, your brush palette should have something similar to the picture.

If you have patterns that only fill up half the width of the canvas, don't forget to also select the rectangle with no fill and stroke on as well as the rectangles that you applied the pathfinder tool on when you create a new brush.

Step 7

Now I recommend you save the brush you have just created by clicking on the folders button at the bottom left corner of the brush palette.

Step 8

Now use the Ellipse tool (L), set it to no fill and set stroke to any color you like and the stroke size you like. Hold down Shift key to draw a perfect circle outline on the canvas. Hold down the Alt key as well if you want the circle to expand from the center.

Step 9

With your newly created circle outline still selected, click on the brush pattern you have designed in the brush palette.

Voila! You have just created your own high tech style HUD rings.

You can change the color of the rings by playing around with the color palette.

Now, if you have set each individual pattern as an Art Brush, you can create a few circle outlines and apply different brush pattern to each circle outline to your liking.


To finish off this tutorial, here are some pointers for future reference. If you have set individual pattern as individual brush, you can have as many patterns you want and create different style of HUD rings to your liking.
I recommend you put each individual pattern in a separate layer as you create you own high tech HUD rings, so you can import it into After Effects later and animate each ring separately, and you can also assign different colors for each
of the rings. With this technique, I was able to make some more complicated looking HUD rings to use in After Effects than creating it in After Effects with a masking technique. Thank you for reading this tutorial. I hope this technique is helpful.

Further References

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