Draw a yin-yang icon

One of the most easily recognizable symbols is the yin-yang, a circle divided by a curving line into black and white halves. Today we’ll be creating a super quick and easy yin-yang symbol.

First off, we’ll be using the Ellipse tool to draw a circle. In your toolbar, click and hold on the shape icon until it brings up a flyout menu, and click on the ‘Ellipse’ option (the circle icon).

Now click on your artboard and in the Ellipse popup window enter a Width and Height value of one inch. Click OK:

This will give you a perfect circle. We’ve styled ours with a simple black outline and no fill color:

Copy and paste the circle on top of itself. There are a couple of ways to do this, the easiest two being:

1) Command-A to select all the shapes on your artboard, then Command-C then Command-F (Mac keyboard, on a PC substitute ‘Control’).

2) Click on the circle and under the ‘Edit’ menu, choose ‘Copy’ then ‘Paste in Front’

Play around with each, then choose whichever option works best for you.

From there, select the top circle by clicking on it with your black selection arrow (click ‘V’ on your keyboard to bring it up).

Bring up your Transform palette (Window > Transform). You’ll see a series of little squares on the left hand side of the palette. Click on the bottom center square, the click on the flyout menu on the top left hand side of the palette and choose ‘Flip Vertical’:

This will cause our circle to flip vertically. The reason you clicked the bottom middle square in the Transform palette is to set the place where the shape will flip from: By clicking the center bottom, the shape will flip straight downwards. Here’s what we’ve got:

Now we’re going to bring up our Direct Select tool – The white arrow in your toolbar, or hit ‘A’ on your keyboard to bring it up. Click outside of the circle and drag your cursor over the right hand side of the bottom circle to select the point, then hit Delete on your keyboard:

Repeat this for the top right hand side of the top circle:

With your Direct Select arrow, click and drag the cursor over the centre of your shape. This will select the two points where they join. You’ll see the points have a blue fill while all the other points are filled with white:

Hit Command-J (Control-J on a PC) on your keyboard to join the two points. If you’re working in CS4, you’ll get a little dialogue box popup asking whether you’d like the join to be a corner or a curve, make sure you select curve.

Next we’ll draw the outer circle for our yin-yang. Click on your Ellipse tool again and click on the artboard. This time, enter 2 inches for the width and height:

Now we have a circle plus our curvy vertical line. I’m now going to centre the line on the circle. To do this, I’ll select both shapes (Command-A on a Mac, Control-A on a PC). This will select everything on my artboard:

Now I’ll bring up my Align palette (Window > Align). I’ll click on the ‘Horizontal Align Center’ and ‘Vertical Align Center’ buttons (circled below in red) to put my wavy line right in the middle of my circle:

Now I’m going to use my line to split my circle into two shapes. However, since both are the exact same height, 2 inches, I’ll need to make my line just a touch taller in order to use it as a divider. So I’ll select my line and increase the height just a smidgen to 2.01″:

Now I’ll select both the shapes again (Command-A Mac, Control-A PC) and bring up my Pathfinder palette (Window > Pathfinder). To chop my shape up I’ll click on the ‘Divide’ button (circled below):

Now my circle has split into two halves. You can even move them around if you like (you may need to ungroup the shapes after using the Pathfinder, just select them and hit ‘Command-Shift-G’/’Control-Shift-G’ on your keyboard):

I’ll color one half black and the other one a very light gray so that you can see it against the artboard. Now for the final touch: Adding the eyes.

On top of the black half, I’m going to use the Ellipse tool to draw a circle. To keep the circle perfectly round, I’ll click-drag the cursor across the artboard while holding down the ‘Shift’ key. This ensures your circle stays round:

I’ll use the Align palette again to make sure that the eye is centred. First I’ll group the white and black halves (Command/Control-G), then select them and the eye and use the ‘Horizontal Align Center’ button in the Align palette:

Next I’ll copy and paste the white eye on top of itself, then using the arrows on my keyboard I’ll move the copy up onto the lighter half of our yin-yang. I’ll also color it black:

Last but not least, to make sure things are centred again, I’ll group the white and black eye together then select everything and use the ‘Vertical Align Center’ button in the Align Palette:

Voila, now you have quick and easy way to draw a yin-yang.

© 2012 Jennifer Borton


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