Total Peganthyrus Vortex

that moment when the drugs kick in and you realize that there is absolutely nothing in the universe except you and your infinite reflections


So one of the things I do to put off getting work done is to go to the Illustrator subreddit and answer people’s “how do I do this” questions. Yesterday there was someone asking how to do this:

 to which I replied

  1. draw a thing, select the thing
  2. object>distortion mesh>make with mesh, just make it 1×1
  3. mesh tool, click on the edge of the mesh around where you want to make stuff wavy, zoom in close and click slightly above this place so that there are now two mesh lines very close to each other
  4. select the top two points of the mesh and the upper of the two mesh lines you just created, drag upwards
  5. make a couple more mesh lines in this space you’ve opened up, move ’em around
  6. also play with the settings in object>envelope distort>envelope options, a low setting on the “fidelity” slider can make some really interesting glitches.

(You could also go old-school on this and find a photocopier; moving stuff around on the glass as the scan head is moving creates similar effects. Do a dozen or so tries until you find one you like, then scan it, and autotrace/work over it in AI.)

And today someone asked how to do this:
…where I suggested

Draw one vertical line of arches. Make it into a pattern brush. Draw a circle using this brush. Duplicate the circle and rotate it a little and change its color; play with opacity masks.

Making the varying blur/sharp parts is something I’d have to think about for a while in front of Illustrator, offhand I’d probably do it by drawing three arches with a green stroke at 0%, 100%, and 0% opacity, blending them, then duplicating the blends to make the line of arches to use in the pattern brush. Might have to expand the blends before making them into a brush.


I’d verified that the warp effect worked by doing it to a copy of the picture I drew yesterday, which is where the “play with the distortion effect settings” part came from – I liked how a low fidelity made a total mess of things.

So after spending about fifteen minutes fooling around with those circular patterns this morning to see if my idea worked…

…I realized that I could very quickly use this as a tool to make something akin to Escher’s “Circle Limit” images with a lot less work than he had to put into those. So I fooled around a while and this was the result.

Here’s the outline view, with the distortion mesh on and off – stuff you put inside a distortion mesh goes to a weird netherland, and vanishes from the main canvas unless you say “swap the dmesh for the stuff inside it so I can edit that”.

The two dragons at the corners are repeated by use of the Transform effect; getting the right settings was made a ton easier by using Astute’s “Stylism” tool, which provides nice interactive on-canvas controls for this effect and several others instead of Adobe’s modal dialogue boxes full of numeric fields.


If you wanna see the source, it’s up on Patreon. If you want a print of this, it’s on Redbubble.

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