Building a hex grid in Adobe Illustrator

Here are a set of steps that will help you to create a custom hex grid.  The instructions are for Adobe Illustrator CS6, but I suspect that they work fine back to CS4.

6-mile hex at 1 mile hex scale
The very definition of a 6-mile hex at the more commonly used 1-mile scale
  1. Start a new 8.5″ x 11″ document with landscape orientation
  2. Select the polygon tool and click on the page. Set the tool to .3” radius and 6 points.
  3. Place the newly created hexagon in the upper left-hand corner of the artboard
  4. With the hexagon shape selected, click on EFFECT → DISTORT & TRANSFORM → TRANSFORM
  5. Set Preview to ON
  6. Set Horizontal move to .45”
  7. Set Vertical move to .26”
  8. Enable REFLECT X
  9. Tell it to create 32 copies (takes us off the bottom of page)
  10. Click on OK
  11. Deselect and reselect the first hexagon (only the first can be selected)
  12. With the hexagon shape selected, click on EFFECT → DISTORT & TRANSFORM → TRANSFORM
  13. If necessary, click “Apply New Effect” button
  14. Turn on the preview
  15. Set the Horizontal move to .9”
  16. Set the number of copies to 12
  17. Click on OK
  18. (Make your changes to line thickness / style as you wish – last chance to do it uniformly.)
  19. With the hexagon selected, set the fill color to none (transparent)
  20. Select OBJECT → Expand…
  21. Select OBJECT → Path → Outline Stroke
  22. With all of the objects still selected (CTRL-A if they are not), Select WINDOW → Pathfinder and click on Unite (the first option)
6-mile hex at 1/2 mile scale
6-hex at 1/2 mile grid resolution (i.e. 12 hexes from top to bottom)

Once you have the basic components, you can easily create custom mapping sheets with the hex-grid scaled to match your needs.  These instructions were gleaned from a video over at

Author: Kilgore

Long-time gamer, alpha techno-geek, and former infantryman

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