Create a Cool Wavy Ribbon in Adobe Illustrator CS5

You must have seen pretty cool ribbons in plenty of artworks. Wondering how you can do it? Its pretty simple through Adobe Illustrator. This tutorial explains you how to do that.

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1. To create a colorful ribbon, we would put together multicolored stripes. For that, we will first choose a set of colors. In the Swatches palette, click on the dropdown arrow (in the top right corner) and choose ‘Open Swatch Library’. Then choose a library from the list and scroll to select you favorite set of colors.

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In this example I have chosen, Textiles > Nagoya Obi.

2. Select the ‘Rectangle Tool (M)’ and draw a longish, thin rectangle as shown below:

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3. Select the color from the swatch – ‘Nagoya Obi’ (that you added to the Swatches palette), to fill color in this rectangle.

4. We will draw 5 more rectangles, below this one to complete our ribbon. The easiest way to do this is to select the shape with the ‘Selection Tool (V) also known as the ‘black arrow tool’, hold down ‘Alt/Option’ and drag the copy of the shape just below the original shape. Guides will help you align the shapes. Go to the ‘Swatches Palette’ and fill in the next color in the new rectangle. Repeat this entire process, until you create 6 bands in total.

The ribbon should now look like this;

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5. Using the Selection Tool, select the entire ribbon. You can do that by selecting the tool and then dragging in over the art board to select the entire shape. Go to Object menu > Envelope Distort > Make with Mesh or key in ‘Alt/Option + Ctrl/Command + M’. The Envelope Mesh dialog box pops up as shown below: 

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Enter the values for the rows and columns for the mesh. The default values are 4 but you can experiment with them to create complex effects. In this example, I have chosen 4 rows and 6 columns. Switch on the Preview to see how the mesh looks while in the dialog box. Click OK to close.

6. Now choose the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) and select a vertical or horizontal set of anchor points. Then in the Toolbox, choose the Scale Tool (S)

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7. Now with the scale tool selected, hold down the left mouse key, and move the selected anchor points into different directions to see the effect they create. I have created an effect as shown below:

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When released, click anywhere on art board to get out of the scale tool. The effect should be:

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8. Select the same anchor points again, choose the Rotate Tool (R) and holding the left mouse key, pull out the selected anchor points to create a desired rotating effect.

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NOTE: Once you select the anchor points, use the Scale and Rotate tools alternatively to get the desired effects. Though initially you may need to do so, to see what effect is generated.

9. Adjust the reference point (small blue pointer) to change the angle for scaling and rotating.

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Our final ribbon is ready.

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You can create different shapes using the same method.

Filed Under: Adobe Illustrator

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About the Author: Minal is a freelance web and graphics designer. She specializes in designing Logos, Stationery, Graphics and Icons as well as website templates using graphical tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Expression Web. Twitter @saffronstroke

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