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how to make vector snowflakes in adobe illustrator

I posted this guide on how to make vector snowflakes in Adobe Illustrator last year at, and thought it would fit well here at Calobee Doodles. You can still download the free snowflakes desktop wallpaper here.

1. Create a new document in Illustrator. If you want your snowflakes to be white, it’s helpful to set a background color so you can see what you’re doing. I usually drag a quick rectangle shape to fit the document, set the fill to my color of choice, and lock it by selecting the rectangle and going to Object -> Lock -> Selection.

Create a colored backdrop using the Rectangle tool.  Fill your rectangle with a color of your choosing.

Lock the background so it doesn't shift around while you're working.

2. Draw the first “leg” of your snowflake by creating an elongated shape or pattern of some kind. I do this mostly using the line and circle tools, but you could experiment with any shape. This is the shape that will be repeated in a circle to make the snowflake.

Create any shape to be used as the pattern for the rest of your snowflake.  Lines and circles work well.  I'm using a 7 pt. Round brush with a white stroke.

One leg down!

3. Once you’re satisfied with your shape, click on the Rotate tool. Hold down the Option key on your keyboard and click on the bottom center of your snowflake’s first leg. This will bring up the Rotate dialog.

Option-click with the Rotate tool in the bottom-middle of your pattern.

4. The angle of rotation should be set to a number that, when repeated, adds up to 360 degrees. I usually go with 30, 40, or 60. The lower the number, the more legs your snowflake will have.

Set the angle of rotation.  A smaller angle means more legs on the snowflake.  Hit the Copy button to rotate and copy the pattern.

5. Once you’ve set the degrees to rotate, hit the Copy button. You’ll see one repetition of your initial pattern appear… if you don’t like what you see, hit Ctrl+Z to undo and repeat steps 3 and 4 to try a different angle. In this case, I initially set it to 40 degrees but decided 60 would look better.

Two legs are better than one...

6. To finish off your snowflake, simply hit Ctrl+D to repeat the pattern until you complete a full circle. Voila, you have a snowflake!

Ctrl+D will repeat the rotation to complete your snowflake

7. You can play around with different angles and shapes to get the look you want. For smaller or more detailed snowflakes, you’ll probably want thinner lines. For larger snowflakes, thicker lines look best. It helps if you group your final snowflake (select all the pieces, right-click or Ctrl-click, and hit Group) so you don’t lose bits and pieces as you create more and move them around the page.

Highlight your snowflake and Ctrl-click or right-click and select "Group"