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How To Create an Ornate Compass Rose in Illustrator

I recently shared some tips with a subscriber about how to create a nautical star design in Illustrator, which then prompted me to research traditional nautical star and compass rose layouts and construct an ornate design of my own. The process makes use of lots of simple but really useful techniques in Illustrator to build up layers of detail. Follow this step by step guide to create a detailed black and white compass rose illustration with various symmetrical pattern effects.

Compass rose illustration Traditional compass rose illustrations are often made up of intense detail which paired with the symmetrical layout creates a really eye pleasing piece of artwork. We ll use those classic nautical compass designs as inspiration for a vector illustration of our own and make use of simple shapes to build up ornate patterns.

Compass rose illustration We ll begin with the main four point star. Use the cursor keys to adjust the number of points while dragging out the shape with the star tool.

Also alter the angle of the points by holding the CMD key while keeping the shape square with the Shift key. Compass rose illustration Turn on Smart Guides (CMD+U) to allow the cursor to snap to anchor points then use the Line tool to draw intersections between each inner and outer point of the star.

Compass rose illustration Draw a selection around all the objects and click the Divide option from the Pathfinder palette. Right click and Ungroup the elements until every shape is individually selectable.

Compass rose illustration Select and fill each segment of the star with either white or black to create an alternating colour scheme. Give every shape a black stroke but align it to the inside to retain the star s sharp points.

Compass rose illustration Draw another star, this time with 16 points and much more acute angles. Make sure this new star is marginally smaller than the previous so the north, east, south & west points don t overlap.

Repeat the process of drawing intersecting lines and dividing up the shapes to form another star design. Compass rose illustration Group the elements of the two objects together then align them centrally.

Use the shortcut CMD+Shift+ to send this shape to the back, then go to Object > Transform > Scale and enter 105%. Click Copy to create a slightly larger duplicate. Compass rose illustration

Continue pressing the CMD+D shortcut to repeat this transformation to create a series of concentric circles. Simple effects like this create intricate detail when the design is viewed without magnification. Compass rose illustration

Draw new circles or copy and paste existing shapes and continue building out the design adding various effects using fills, strokes and patterns.

The easiest way to keep the elements stacked correctly is to send each new item to the back (CMD+Shift+


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