Reviews, VFX

Symmetrical art with MirrorMe in Illustrator

Those of you who use Painter 12 have already experienced what you can do with a mirroring feature in a painting application. You can create symmetrical art and kaleidoscopic art very easily. With MirrorMe you can create such art in Adobe Illustrator. Trying it out revealed it's better implemented than what Corel did with Painter, though.

It is crystal clear what Adobe Illustrator users crave for to the Astute Graphics team. They have developed plug-ins that make it easier to draw curves and objects, to draw free style, repeat objects in structured manner along paths, etc. MirrorMe is their latest product and it's a great, time-saving plug-in for those of us who like to create symmetrical art.

MirrorMe allows you to draw art first and then add symmetrical effects to it, or decide upon the number of axes first and then draw one axis of the symmetrical pattern later. Both methods result in vector art that can be altered later on. For example, I created a kaleidoscopic object and added different shadow effects to different parts of the object afterwards.

In contrast to other Astute Graphics plug-ins, MirrorMe doesn't come with many keyboard shortcuts that change the way the tool behaves. Increasing the number of axes is done by pressing the "]" key repeatedly or by holding down the mouse and pressing one of the number keys.

Symmetrical art with MirrorMe in Adobe Illustrator

The tool does come with the pop-up context menu that allows you to change the setting on the fly or cancel the operation and start over again.

When you "Apply to Layer", you can be drawing after first having set the axes, both number and location on the page. However — and here MirrorMe becomes vastly more powerful than the comparable Painter implementation — if you have drawn part of your art and you decide you want to rotate or change the axis/axes, you can just select the axis/axes and manipulate them as you wish.

If you do this with several different layers, you can create enormously complex symmetrical artwork in a fraction of the time it would take you without MirrorMe. Even by choosing the more 'casual' "Apply to Selection" option you can build incredibly complex symmetrical art.

One of the uses I see for MirrorMe certainly is pattern creation. I am thinking of clothes, household linen, backdrops for posters, computer screen wallpapers (of course), etc, etc. Traditionally, you would use Artlandia's excellent toolbox for this because it saves its artwork as an Illustrator pattern, but Illustrator CS6 has been much improved in this area and you could create the same sort of complicated symmetrical pattern artwork with MirrorMe as well.

Of course, MirrorMe really shines when used in tandem with Astute Graphics' other plug-ins. MirrorMe combined with Dynamic Sketch, InkScribe, ColliderScribe, WidthScribe, Dynamic Shapes — they all save time and make it easier and more fun to create symmetrical art in Illustrator. Fun that can be yours for 45 Euros.

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J.D. – Copywriter – Tech. Writer – Editor at Visuals Producer – Contributor at Photoshop User, Studio Daily – Sub-editor at RedShark News