For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it's getting cold, and for many, the snow has arrived, so I thought I'd share a technique to create snowflakes with Draw. First, lets take a look at some real snowflakes (public domain image by Wilson Bentley courtesy of Wikipedia):
The first thing you may notice is that all of the snowflakes have six points, and that each point is symmetric. This is called hexagonal symmetry, and because of this, I will not use the polygon tool to create the snowflakes (maybe one day I'll add this feature to the polygon tool). While it is possible to use the polygon tool, it would require me to manually keep two half edges symmetrical. That would make it difficult to quickly experiment with many shapes. Instead, I'll use clones. If you've read my articles on Escher patterns, you'll know that I really like clones.
Step 1: Create an almost vertical line. This will become the template line that allows us to quickly define the shape of our snowflake.
Step 2: Clone it (Menu >> Edit >> Clone). Move it to the side and give it a different outline color so that we know which is the master and which is the clone.
Step 3: Duplicate the clone (ctrl+d), flip the duplicate horizontally and snap the top points together. This is how we keep each point of the snowflake symmetrical.
Step 4: Select both shapes, and group them, click the group a second time to enter "rotation" mode for the selection. Move the center point somewhere below the two clones. The location of the center is not important since we'll snap it all together later.
Step 5: Start rotating the group. While holding the left mouse button, click on the right mouse button once to enter duplicate mode (the mouse cursor will show a "+" next to it). Hold the control key to constrain the rotation to 15 degree increments and rotate until the property bar reports an angle of 60 degrees. Finish the rotation by letting go of the left mouse button.
Step 6: Press ctrl+d 4 times to duplicate the shape. You should now have 6 groups pointing in each of the 6 directions of the snowflake. With snapping turned on, snap each of the groups together. It is important that the curves are snapped together correctly so that the final shape can be easily closed.
Step 7: Now for the fun part, any changes you make to the master line (the black line) will be repeated in each of the snowflake points. You can do anything you like to the master line, but do not move the first or last point, doing so may make it difficult to close the final shape.
Switch to the shape tool and start editing!
The shape isn't fillable yet, so you can use the smart fill to create a closed shape (alternatively, you can use the join curves docker in X5). Once you have a closed shape, you can start adding your own vector stylings to it.
For those interested in how the above image is created, here's a breakup of the shapes used to create it:
Thu, Dec 2 2010 15:31