Interlocking Rings  E-mail
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Written by rdorr   
This tip is a great exercise in using COMPOUND PATHS and the PATHFINDER PALETTE for the sometimes difficult task of making interlocking objects. Give it a try!

Open a new document, I started with a custom document 400 pixels wide by 400 pixels high. 




Select the ELLIPSE TOOL. Remember, to view a tool that is hidden, hold down the mouse button on the visible tool. To select a hidden tool, continue to hold down the mouse button, drag the pointer over the tool you want to select, and then release the mouse button. 




Hold down the SHIFT KEY, click and draw a circle the size you want your rings to be. 




Click on the RADIAL SWATCH on the SWATCHES PALETTE. If the SWATCHES PALETTE is not visible, click on SWATCHES in the WINDOWS MENU or press F6 (This will open the swatches palette). 




You will notice that the circle now appears to have a glow as if it was a sphere. 




To create the illusion of a ring we need to change the way the GRADIENT is arranged. Click and drag the left GRADIENT SLIDER until it is at approximately the location shown below. 




Add an additional SLIDER by clicking under the GRADIENT BAR. Move your cursor to the black side of the COLOR BAR. Your cursor will turn into an EYE DROPPER




When you click the EYE DROPPER on the COLOR BAR your SLIDER will turn black. Notice how the GRADIENT THUMBNAIL is a ring of light around the black center. 




Your circle should now look like this. If you need to change the width of the highlight go back to the GRADIENT PALETTE and adjust the SLIDER positions to your satisfaction. 




Select the ELLIPSE TOOL and position the cursor in the center of your circle. If your first circle is still selected, you will see a blue square in the exact center of the circle. Align your cursor with this dot, Hold down SHIFT + ALT (PC)/OPT (Mac), click and draw a circle the size of the original circles black area as shown below. 




Use the SELECTION TOOL to select both circles. 




Press CTRL+8 (PC)/CMD +8 (Mac) or choose COMPOUND PATH>MAKE command from the OBJECT PULL DOWN MENU




You will now notice that the inside of the circle has been deleted. 




Duplicate the ring by selecting it and while holding down ALT (PC)/OPT (Mac), drag the new ring to the right. 




Duplicate one more ring and place it above the bottom two. 




Select all the objects. Now we will use the PATHFINDER tools to break our rings into individual segments. 




If the PATHFINDER PALETTE is not open, click on WINDOW>PATHFINDER or click SHIFT+CTRL+F9 (PC) or SHIFT+CMD+F9 (Mac). Click on the TRIM button to break the rings into individual shapes depending on how they overlap. 




Click SHIFT+CTRL+A (PC) or SHIFT+ CMD+A (Mac) to deselect all objects. Notice that there are fine lines indicating the separate visible segments. 




To make the rings interlock, we will need to create the illusion that as we look at a ring, it appears to go over, then under, over, and under the other rings. To do this, SELECT the section of a ring that you want go under and click the DELETE button to remove this section. 




The example below shows what your rings should now look like. 




SELECT the segment that needs to go under and click DELETE




The rings now appear to be interlocked. The only thing left to do is to get rid of the lines that separate the individual segments. 




SELECT the segments that are adjacent to each other as in the example shown below. 




Again, go to the PATHFINDER PALETTE, but this time, click on the MERGE button. 




Continue to SELECT and MERGE the next set of segments. 



Continue doing this until all segments are joined. Your interlocked rings should now look like the example below. 




If you want your rings to have more of a three-dimensional look, Open the EFFECTS MENU and select DROP SHADOW



In the DROP SHADOW DIALOG BOX make sure the PREVIEW box is checked. Adjust the settings until you are happy with the appearance of your design. 



There you have it, I hope this tip has inspired you to think of inventive ways to use COMPOUND PATHS and the PATHFINDER PALETTE.


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