How To Use MirrorMe From Astute Graphics

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How To Find MirrorMe

Create complex Illustrator patterns with MirrorMe.

One of the Illustrator skills that has always eluded me is the ability to make rather complex patterns using very simple shapes and objects. That all changed a couple of months ago when I sat in on an online Illustrator presentation that demonstrated how to create complex Illustrator patterns using an Illustrator plugin named MirrorMe from Astute Graphics out of the U.K.

Though I find plug-ins rather intriguing I have never regarded them as a replacement for creativity and mastery of the tools. On the other hand, I am a firm believer that playing “What If … ” games can lead to happy accidents. In the case of MirrorMe, Astute Graphics has found my sweet spot by providing a creative tool that let’s me play those “What If …” games with some rather surprising “Happy Accidents”.

In this “How To” I will start with a simple compound shape that I will mirror. This will help you get a feel for the tool. Then I start playing a “What If … “ game and we’ll see where that leads. Let’s get started.

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How To Use The MirrorMe Interface

The MirrorMe interface is very easy to master.

When you open Illustrator – I will be using Illustrator CC 2014 – MirrorMe appears as a tool on the tool bar and ,if you select Window>MirrorMe, the MirrorMe panel will open. The two buttons along the top allow you to either Mirror a selection or a Layer. The X and Y numbers show you the location of the origin point for the effect.

The next row is where the magic happens. You can set the angle and number of mirrored objects when you use the tool. The bottom controls set the opacity of objects that intersect each other. I usually leave this unselected.

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How To Create A MirrorMe Reflection

Creating a reflection is as simple as dragging the mouse.

You have a couple of choices here. You can either select the tool and click and drag across the object or enter values into the panel. I’ll start with the tool. To use it simply select it and drag it across the object to me mirrored.  As you approach the opposite side of the object, an outlined copy appears. If you click the mouse a menu asks you if you would like to apply the effect to the layer or cancel the effect. Click Apply to Layer and a copy of the selection is added to the artboard. If you click Cancel the outline will remain. To switch out of the tool simply press the V key. 

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How To Use The MirrorMe Panel

The MirrorMe panel lets you introduce complexity.

With the Layer button selected I changed the angle to 145-degrees and the number of axes to 10. I selected the MirrorMe tool and dragged the origin point across the image to its bottom left corner. As I dragged I noticed how the pattern changed. Once I was satisfied I pressed the Return/Enter key and the pattern appeared on the Artboard.

If you want to increase or decrease the number of reflection axes you press the ]-key (Increase) or the [-key (Decrease) and  you can make the resulting pattern more complex or less complex.

MirrorMe also allows you to change your preferences by clicking on the Panel’s Menu button which opens the Context menu. When you select MirrorMe Preferences you are presented with 4 choices ranging from showing where you started dragging to removing unneeded points on the various axes.

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How To Create A Complex Pattern Using A MirrorMe Selection

You can create patterns by selecting an object or a path.

 So far we have dealt with and entire object but you can also create some interesting patterns based on selections inside an object. In this example I have a teardrop shape filled with a gradient inside a larger version of the shape filled with a solid. What if we applied MirorMe to the solid shape? In the MirrorMe panel I selected the Selected Artwork, not the Layer, option.

Then I selected the MirrorMe tool and dragged. I saw a number of axes and a shape. To see what I had created, I pressed the Command (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) key. Once I was satisfied, I pressed the Return/Enter key and chose the Apply To Selection option. I then reselected the artwork, dragged the Tool across the image and when I was satisfied with what I was seeing, I applied the change to the Layer.

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How To Learn More That You Can Do With Mirror Me.

The MirrorMe site contains a full range of video tutorials.

One of the emerging software trends is manufacturers including access to tutorials that help you understand and use their software. Astute Graphics has a full compliment of MirrorMe Tutorials that are accessible from within Illustrator. To access them, select Help>Astute Graphics>MirrorMe> Tutorial Movies. When you do this your browser opens and takes you to the Tutorials area of the MirrorMe web page and from there you can choose to learn the basics of MirrorMe and some of the really cool things you can do that weren’t covered in this “How To”.