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Powerful Duplication in Illustrator for a Stamp Shape

    Corrie Haffly

    One of my favorite tricks to use in Illustrator which I forgot to mention in my “favorite Illustrator tips” blog is Ctrl-D (Command-D), which allows you to duplicate your last transformation and is especially useful when you’re copying objects and want them to be spaced an exact distance apart. The command can be found under Object > Transform > Transform Again. In this example, I’ll make a postage stamp shape, using Ctrl-D to duplicate the circles that I’ll eventually cut out of the sides.

    Start with a rectangle and a little circle on the edge of the rectangle. (I’m not too concerned with exact dimensions here, so I’ll resize the rectangle “to fit” the circles eventually.)

    Use the black arrow tool to select the circle, then Shift-Alt-drag (Shift-Option-drag) the circle to the right to duplicate it (and constrain the movement to a straight line). Move it over as far as you think it will look good when cut out of the rectangle.

    Now, don’t do anything else, but immediately hit Ctrl-D (Command-D). The circle will duplicate itself again, at the exact same distance as your original move! Keep hitting Ctrl-D until you have enough circles to fit the top of the rectangle.

    Now, Alt-drag one of the circles to the side of the box to start the vertical line of circles. Shift-alt-drag that new circle down so you have two circles along the vertical side. Ctrl-D to duplicate that move several times until the circles line the vertical side of the box.

    What I find is easiest now is to select the top row of circles, then Shift-Alt-drag them down to the bottom line of the box and create a copy. Then I select the vertical column of circles and Shift-Alt-drag them to make a copy on the other side. Finally, I end up with this:

    In the Pathfinder palette, click the “Minus Front” button to cut the circles out of the rectangle to get this result:

    And after importing this vector stamp shape into Photoshop, adding a picture, some text layers, and a drop shadow, this is what I get:

    I’ll be out of town this next week… so have a great one!