How to Draw Graphic Beams in Illustrator

Written by jason jensen
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How to Draw Graphic Beams in Illustrator
Graphic art with graphic beams as the background (Thanksgiving background with pumpkins image by Stasys Eidiejus from

Graphic beams are a very popular technique used in graphic design. Many famous companies have incorporated this technique into their logos and advertisements. Graphic beams are so popular because of their versatility. They can be incorporated into just about any design. Adobe Illustrator is an excellent program for designing graphic beams.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Computer
  • Adobe Illustrator

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  1. 1

    Launch Adobe Illustrator and open an existing document or create a new one.

  2. 2

    Add a new layer to your document and name it "beams." Click the "Create New Layer" icon at the bottom of the "Layers" palette. A new layer will appear. Double-click the layer to rename it. Press the "Enter/Return" key after you type the name in.

  3. 3

    Click and hold down on the "Polygon" tool in the "Tools" pallet. Select the triangle. Click once on the Artboard to open the "Polygon options" dialogue box. Enter "150" in the "Radius" field and "3" in the "Sides" field. Press "Enter/Return" when done. A white triangle will appear on the Artboard.

  4. 4

    Click on the "Object" menu. Hover over "Transform" and select "Scale." A new dialogue box will open.

  5. 5

    Click on the "Non-Uniform" check box. Enter of "Horizontal" value of 10%. Click on "OK."

  6. 6

    Click on the "Object" menu again. Hover over "Transform" and select "Rotate." Enter 180 degrees as the "Angle" amount. Click the "OK" button.

  7. 7

    Click on the "Effect" menu. Hover over "Distort & Transform" and select "Transform." The "Transform Effect" dialogue box will open. Enter "15°" for the "Angle" amount and "23" for the number of "Copies." Under the "Reflect X/Reflect Y" check boxes, there is a small picture of a grid. This is the "Reference Point" grid. Click the bottom-centre box and press "OK." You will now have a perfect circle of triangular beams.

  8. 8

    Create a new layer by clicking the "Create New Layer" icon.

  9. 9

    Click and hold down on the "Polygon" tool in the "Tools" pallet. Select the "Ellipse" shape. Click once on the Artboard to open to the "Ellipse" dialogue box. Enter "450" for the height and width. This will make a circle the same size and shape as your beams.

  10. 10

    Use the "Selection" tool to line up the circle evenly with the beams.

  11. 11

    Click on the "Gradient box" in the "Tools" pallet. Fill the circle with a white to black gradient and set the "Stroke" to "0."

  12. 12

    Use the "Selection" tool to select both objects/layers. Hold the "Shift" key and click on the objects. The transparency menu will open. Select "Make Opacity Mask." This will make any white areas opaque and black areas transparent, giving your beams a nice gradient overlay.

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