How to Use the Spiral Tool in Illustrator

When it comes to the Spiral tool, Illustrator makes it easy to draw elaborate and evolving spirals using just a few settings. In this handy guide, we've shared how to use this remarkable drawing tool, so you have total control over the curve, tightness, and segmentation of your spiral.  

Selecting the Spiral

First, find the Spiral tool in the main toolbar by clicking and holding your cursor over the Line tool, until a submenu appears with other drawing tools, including the Spiral. Before Illustrator allows you to draw spirals, click anywhere on the canvas to open a special dialog box with settings that affect how your spirals look. These include: 

  • Segments: This refers to the number of line segments in your spiral. With a higher "Segments" value, your spiral will become longer, finding a way to curve inward so that all of the segments make it onto the screen. However, each segment in your spiral is shorter than the last.
  • Radius: Let's say you enter "1"" in the "Radius" box. This affects the height and width of your first segment, and you can prove this by drawing a 1" x 1" box around the segment, starting at the beginning of the spiral. You'll see that the segment curves from one corner of the box to another corner. With a higher Radius value, your spiral has a bigger initial arc, which can affect the spiral's overall size.
  • Decay: Next, the Decay value affects the Radius of each succeeding segment. Measured as a percentage value, you can multiply the Decay by the Radius to see how fast the spiral curves inward. A high Decay value (like 90%) will result in a larger and more uniform spiral, which has more in common with a circle. On the other hand, a low Decay value (like 60%) will cause the spiral to decay more quickly, resulting in a design that looks more like a curled-up fern.
  • Style: Finally, this setting tells Illustrator to curve your spiral in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. You can adjust the Style (and all other options, for that matter) before drawing each individual spiral, so that you add more variety to a creative project. 

Changing the Spiral's Color

Finally, if you want to adjust the color of a particular spiral after drawing it, just click on the spiral to select it, and then double-click on the color box in your main toolbar. You can adjust the Fill Color, Stroke Color, or both, to create vibrant and beautiful spirals.  

  • Was this article helpful?

Can’t find what you’re looking for?