Create equally spaced circles around a sphere object

I’m attempting to create a similar graph to this one. Is there a specific way in illustrator to equally space the circles around a center circle?

Example graph image

What I’ve done is created the center circle, then a larger circle that overlaps it (with opacity 50% or so), then lined the outer circles around the edge of the large circle. The issue is they aren’t equally spaced apart, maybe another hour of playing with it they will be, but is there a better way to do this?


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Method 1

Draw circles

First, create 2 circles. The 2 circles don’t have to be center aligned as shown in my screen shot above.

Rotate tool

While having the smaller circle selected, hit the Rotate tool. (R for shortcut). Now, hold on Option/Alt key, and click on the center of the bigger circle. This tells the anchor point the small circle should be rotating from. After you click on the center you will get the popup for the angle input. For the angle, you should input a number that’s divisible by 360. For my example I used 30, so you get 12 smaller circles.

Turn on preview, and hit Copy.

duplicate circles

Now hit CMD+D, or Control+D to redo the last step. Keep on doing this until you get all the circles.

Method 2

Another option is to use Effects to auto-generate the duplicate circles and let Illustrator factor the angle needed so you don’t have to do any math.


(Right-Click/Control-Click the image and choose “Open image in new Tab” for a larger version)

This method will work with any object to create copies around a center focal point.

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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