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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About The Author: Tony Soh

Hi. I'm the founder of Vector Diary. Illustrator is my passion and I have written numerous tutorials on illustrator helping people learn illustrator. My most popular tutorial on learn illustrator has been a hit. It makes learning illustrator so easy and has benefited more than 20,000 people worldwide. Also, I've revealed some of my secret techniques in the premium tutorials. So don't forget to check it out!

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  1. Gravtar for marizmendi
    marizmendi May 15th

    Excellent, Exactly what I’ve been looking for, thanks

  2. Gravtar for Jamie.G
    Jamie.G May 28th

    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!

  3. Gravtar for dev
    dev June 2nd

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

  4. Gravtar for iStockdiary
    iStockdiary June 3rd

    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.

  5. Gravtar for arly
    arly June 6th

    yay! fun to play with! thanks!

  6. Gravtar for mickey
    mickey August 5th

    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!

  7. Gravtar for iStockdiary
    iStockdiary August 5th

    Hi Mickey, Go Object>Epxand to expand the lines into shapes. Select all and apply gradient to it.

  8. Gravtar for Steff
    Steff August 5th

    love it!

  9. Gravtar for pub
    pub August 16th

    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

  10. Gravtar for Per
    Per September 3rd

    For spanish keyboards is the “ñ” letter, thanks god i found it! Great trick!

  11. Gravtar for Anneke
    Anneke September 26th

    For French keyboards it’s the “<” key. Very glad to have finally found it! Cool trick

  12. Gravtar for Love Malhotra
    Love Malhotra October 3rd

    Hello dear friends
    I don’t know how to make this style pls teach to me and where is the “tilde” email ID is

  13. Gravtar for dinesh
    dinesh October 6th

    cooooooooooooooool 🙂 that’s really awesome, great trick. M Loving it. 🙂 thanks for sharing.

  14. Gravtar for Gui
    Gui October 12th


    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


  15. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary October 12th

    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.

  16. Gravtar for Jan
    Jan October 20th

    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..! 🙁

  17. Gravtar for Ranja
    Ranja October 25th

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

  18. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary October 26th

    The Alt key.

  19. Gravtar for Steven
    Steven October 29th

    Oh my god! Why did I not know this 🙂 Awesome, thanks for sharing.. I’ll be using this alot from now on 🙂

  20. Gravtar for Steven
    Steven October 29th

    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 😀

  21. Gravtar for Masum
    Masum December 13th

    that is really cool. thanks man.

  22. Gravtar for Amanda
    Amanda January 31st

    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

  23. Gravtar for K.W Grippen
    K.W Grippen March 19th

    Amanda: I have the same keyboard as you do. Instead of the tilde key, hold down the @ key. You’ll get the same effect.

  24. Gravtar for goldbraun
    goldbraun March 27th

    german keyboard: use ö instead of tilde

  25. Gravtar for hind al hussaini
    hind al hussaini June 11th

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

  26. Gravtar for bem69
    bem69 June 15th

    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.

  27. Gravtar for Robin
    Robin September 21st

    Have a Mac Keyboard with a German Layout. I CAN´T FIND THE KEY!!! Can anyone help me?

  28. Gravtar for Toni
    Toni October 6th

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

    alt + n


  29. Gravtar for neo
    neo January 14th


  30. Gravtar for neo
    neo January 14th

    hell with this program

  31. Gravtar for neo
    neo January 19th

    this program sucks yosh arigato man

  32. Gravtar for vectordiary
    vectordiary January 19th

    everyone here is a loser if you listen to vector arts haha

  33. Gravtar for vectordiary
    vectordiary March 2nd

    i vector diary am gay

  34. Gravtar for Lawrence J
    Lawrence J April 5th

    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?

  35. Gravtar for Tidle Key Windows AZERTY
    Tidle Key Windows AZERTY August 1st

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

  36. Gravtar for Fernanda
    Fernanda September 25th

    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????

  37. Gravtar for sara
    sara October 28th

    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!

  38. Gravtar for elencek
    elencek November 2nd

    it can be a single quote ‘ in some keyboards instead of tilde key..

  39. Gravtar for Rahim
    Rahim November 24th

    Machi – Really superb dear .. Thanks for sharing.. Cooll

  40. Gravtar for Jyo
    Jyo April 15th

    Hey its really nice 🙂

  41. Gravtar for Sumer
    Sumer June 28th

    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 …

  42. Gravtar for mukesh sharma
    mukesh sharma August 10th

    ITis nice tutorial, Thanks Tony

  43. Gravtar for VINEETH
    VINEETH October 17th


  44. Gravtar for Shibin Rajan
    Shibin Rajan November 24th

    Wow,nice, thank so much……….

  45. Gravtar for swizzly
    swizzly December 3rd

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

  46. Gravtar for victor
    victor January 9th

    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?

  47. Gravtar for Dulon Mree
    Dulon Mree February 1st

    I have to know many things.

  48. Gravtar for Lina
    Lina May 22nd

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

  49. Gravtar for Cass
    Cass May 29th

    Love it!