I recently shared some tips with a subscriber about how to create a nautical star design in Illustrator, which then prompted me to research traditional nautical star and compass rose layouts and construct an ornate design of my own. The process makes use of lots of simple but really useful techniques in Illustrator to build up layers of detail. Follow this step by step guide to create a detailed black and white compass rose illustration with various symmetrical pattern effects.

Compass rose illustration

Traditional compass rose illustrations are often made up of intense detail which paired with the symmetrical layout creates a really eye pleasing piece of artwork. We’ll use those classic nautical compass designs as inspiration for a vector illustration of our own and make use of simple shapes to build up ornate patterns.

We’ll begin with the main four point star. Use the cursor keys to adjust the number of points while dragging out the shape with the star tool. Also alter the angle of the points by holding the CMD key while keeping the shape square with the Shift key.

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  1. Love all the techniques portrayed in this tut to achieve the final artwork. Very useful indeed to recall upon these classic AI tools and techniques.


  2. One point (no pun intended), is that when drawing the centre lines for the 4 and 16 pointed stars in the initial steps, use the thinnest lines possible. This is because the line is actually only the edge of the black segment and not really a line at all. This way the segments will be more even than they are above where the black, because of the thickness of the centre line, eats into the white segment.

  3. Hi, when dividing and ungrouping the sections it doesn’t seem to work in mine and I don’t understand why, can you help?

    Thank You.

  4. Awesome tutorial Chris. Your tutorials has given me so much as regards learning the AI interface.

    I totally nailed the tutorial. Thanks

  5. Chris

    Your tutorials are really helping me get to grips with how things work in Illustrator.

    Made me smile when I finished this and your clock tutorials :)


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