Illustrator Trick #2: Tilde Fun

illustrator tilde trick

Many beginners may not have heard of the “tilde” key trick. It’s the ~ key just beside the number 1 keypad. By holding the tilde key, you can drag to create new shapes following your mouse direction. You can only use it with other shape tools in your tool palette. Combine it with Alt/Option, Shift/Command and spacebar to create new effects. Have fun with the tilde key, below are some experiments I have done with it.

tilde experiment

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49 thoughts on “Illustrator Trick #2: Tilde Fun”

  1. never ever heard of that technique.. really nice effect and so simple! I’ve been expirimenting with this technique for half an hour now and there are so many possibilities 😀 thanks for sharing!

  2. hi dear friends
    i don’t know how to make this style pls teach to me and where is the “tilde” options.

  3. The “tilde” key is right under Esc Key. Select the Circle Tool, hold down the “tilde” key and drag on the canvas to start drawing shapes. You can also try it with other shape tools.

  4. hopefully i’ll get a reply?

    i was just wondering how i could add the gradient effect (as seen in your opening banner) to the lines? i’ve tried everything i can think of, but nothing seems to work!

  5. well…i dont know this trick…f***m
    well if use a keyboard portuguese ur ~ key in this tut is “ç” key :d
    tks for the trick :d

  6. Hey!

    Great tutorial!
    I would like to know what is the bet way to paint inside the draw. I made something like the stars and i don’t know how to paint the “other inside” draws that i’ve made by the experiment. It’s to much work to paint one piece by one

    *sorry for my english haha


  7. Go Object>Expand to expand the lines. Next select all lines and fill it with gradient. Pull and drag to set the direction of the gradient. You will achieve something like what I have done.

  8. Hi!
    Can’t get this to work…
    I have a Norwegian keyboard layout, and where the tilde / ~ symbol should be, I have ‘ and § instead. I have to press alt and ^ to get the ~ symbol. I can’t figure out how to do this trick..! 🙁

  9. Very good trick! Let me ask something. Which key replaces the mac’s option key, in the pc keyboard?

  10. Btw. I have the new Mac keyboard with a danish layout. In case some of you can’t find the tilde key, you just need to press the key and go crazy 😀

  11. Nope, this jsut does not work for me. My tilde is above the right shift key and shares space with the #. Even with shift ~ and drag, there is no effect. The line segment will twirl around anyway (even without the shift ~) but I get no duplicates. This is annoying, as I suspect it is an important part of Illustrator

  12. hind al hussaini

    I was wondering how do you make the lines with different colors. Like the one shown above.

  13. This is a great find, thanks for sharing!

    hind al hussaini – the method is here

    Vectordiary October 12th, 2008

    Go Object>Expand to expand the lines. Next select all lines and fill it with gradient. Pull and drag to set the direction of the gradient. You will achieve something like what I have done.

  14. Robin September 21st, 2009
    Have a Mac Keyboard with a German Layout. I CAN´T FIND THE KEY!!! Can anyone help me?

    alt + n


  15. I have a Mac Keyboard (UK Layout) and its the small wireless one that comes with the new imacs. I cant work it out. I’ve tried ~ § ^ and everything else i can think of. if anyone has any ideas please post.

    P.S. As many people seem to have similar issues, do we know the name for this function? so that we can look it up?

  16. Tidle Key Windows AZERTY

    If some one on a pc don’t get it.
    Just try “SHIFT+ ù” Key =>(ù/%).
    Thx for the trick.

  17. I followed the instructions previously mentioned, but once I select all the lines and fill them with a gradient, every ellipse has ‘its own gradient’ :S getting a very wierd efect (it’s interesting anyway, but not what i’m looking for)
    how can I do it to fill the entire shape with just one gradient??, like in of the opening banner????

  18. WOW WOW WOW!!! Thank you SO much for posting such a useful thing! I wish I knew about this a few years ago… I had no idea I could do stuff like this so easily!

  19. I can’t stand without thanking u VECTOR .. I am just a begineer in Illustrator and u made me like professional .. All appreciates my desings and specially This TRICKS …

  20. For Swiss keyboard layouts it is the exclamation mark “!”, between the “ü” and “return” keys. Have fun!

  21. I have a macbook pro with Spanish keyboard, ñ will not do the trick. I have Illustrator CS5, does anyone know how to help me?

  22. I have a spanish keyboard and I haven’t found the ’tilde’ key, Ñ doesn’t work for me

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