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How to Make a Repeating Shape Pattern in Illustrator

Here's a great Adobe Illustrator tip I wanted to share with you all.  It just so happens that if you hold down the “tilde” key on your keyboard, you can get a neat effect using any of Illustrator's drawing tools. Holding down the tilde key, (the little squiggly line above the tab key, left of the number 1 on your keyboard.) while using a drawing tool will cause Illustrator to repeat the shape rapidly as you move your mouse. Examples are below:

For starters, here is a pic of the tilde key:

Illustrator: The Tilde Trick

Here are some quick examples with some different drawing tools:

Also, remember that you can hold shift and/or option/alt at the same time you're holding the tilde key to constrain your shapes if you like.


Illustrator: The Tilde Trick

Star tool:

Illustrator: The Tilde Trick

Rounded Rectangle tool:

Illustrator: The Tilde Trick

Elipse tool:

Illustrator: The Tilde Trick

Line tool:

Illustrator: The Tilde Trick

I'm the editor-in-chief of I'm a designer and developer by day, and a writer and musician when the feeling strikes. I enjoy vintage advertisements and puzzles with an absurd amount of pieces. Follow me on Twitter.

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