How to Draw a DNA Strand in Illustrator

Written by daniel ketchum
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How to Draw a DNA Strand in Illustrator
Create your own DNA graphic using Illustrator. (Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images)

An important part of creating ads, signs or Web pages is finding just the right images to use. You could go on the Internet and find some clip art if you are creating an ad for a document or a logo for a Web page that requires a stylised image of DNA. But, this would not be exclusively yours. To get you own custom DNA graphic, you can use the tools and functions of Adobe Illustrator to create it.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Start Adobe Illustrator. Select "File" from the menu and choose "New." In the dialogue that appears, enter the width and height you want for your document. Click "OK."

  2. 2

    Select the "Ellipse" tool from the toolbar on the left. In the options at the top, change the "Fill" colour to what you want for the first ball that will represent one end of a DNA barbel-shaped molecule. Change the "Stroke" to "None."

  3. 3

    Hold down the "Shift" key and draw a circle where you want the one end of the first barbel shape. De-select the circle. Click on the "Gradient" panel on the right and apply a "Radial" gradient, clicking on the two colour tabs to select the colour for the gradient.

  4. 4

    Use the "Copy" and "Paste" function to create another circle to the right of the first with a gap between that is about three times the width of the circle. Go back to the "Gradient" panel and change the colour of the gradient.

  5. 5

    Select the "Rectangular" tool from the toolbar and draw a small rectangle bar that extends one quarter of the way from the edge of the left sphere toward the sphere. Create another one that extends from the end of the previous rectangle. Repeat this two more times to create a connection between the two spheres.

  6. 6

    Go back to the "Gradient" panel and apply a vertical "Linear" gradient to each of the bars, choosing the tab colours you want.

  7. 7

    Repeat this process to add another section to your DNA above the first. These should be slightly smaller and turned a bit to give the impression of a winding strand. Save your work.

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