Expression Design

Retro-lines in Expression Design


Today I would like to show you how to create lines like above in Expression Design.

After opening Expression Design, start by creating a new .design document.




Now, zoom in a bit to the upper left corner of the document. Draw a small rectangle and give it some easy numbers. Move the rectangle to 10, 10 and change it width and height to 10 too.


Change the stroke of the rectangle to none, and change the fill color to black.

Copy the black rectangle and move it to position 10,20. Change its color to a medium grey, like #999999.

Create another copy of the rectangle and move it to position 10,30. Give that rectangle a light grey color, #DDDDDD.

Add a fourth copy and move it to 10,40. Fill it with a dark grey #555555.

At this point there should be a stack of 4 squares like this:


Next, the four rectangles have to be turned into a stroke definition to use it for the drawing. Select all four rectangles and go to Object –> Stroke –> New Stroke Definition…


By default there’s some room around the squares. When using the stroke definition like this, there’s going to be some space at the beginning and the end of the line. To fix this, select the stroke definition box from the toolbar.


Drag the stroke definition on the borders of the squares, so that it matches the size.


That’s all. Hit the little cross on the tab to close the stroke definition. Enter a name for the definition in the dialog that pops up. Set the default width to 10.


Hit ok to close the popup.

Because the stroke definition is now stored, the rectangles aren’t needed anymore. Delete them and reset the zoom level to 100%.

Select the Pen tool from the toolbar or hit P on the keyboard. Hold down shift on the keyboard and click on the canvas a few times. Make sure you don’t click and drag because this will create curved lines. By using shift and click all lines will be at 45 degrees to each other.


You don’t need the filling so set that to none. Set the stroke color to a dark red, like #5D0000 and give it a with of 25 pixels.  Select ”Retro” Stroke from the dropdown list.step11 The drawing is starting to look like something now.


Repeat the drawing with the pan again to draw a second line. Instead of using a red color, select a dark blue color like #00005D this time.


All the drawing needs now is a little dynamics.

Add new layer to the design and call this “Shadows”.

Draw a new rectangle and give it a width and height of 25.

Set the stroke for the rectangle to none. Fill it with a gradient and set the gradient to go from black with an alpha 50% to black with an alpha 0.


Use the selection tool to rotate the square 45 degrees, use the shift key while rotating to make the rotation snap to the 45 degrees more easily. Move the rectangle over to a crossing between red and blue lines and place it with the dark side toward the blue line, placing it over the red line.

step16 Copy the shadow square, rotate it 180 degrees and move it with its dark side to the blue line again.

clone, rotate 180 degrees and move to other side of the blue line.


To make it look like the blue line is diving below the red, a small portion of the blue line has to be deleted. To do that, select the Add Anchor Point tool from the toolbar.



To make locating the places to add the anchor points a bit easier, add two guides crossing each other where the side of the blue line crosses the center of the red line. Add three points, like shown below.


To finish it off, delete the middle anchor, by hitting delete on the keyboard. Add a bit of shadow by copying the shadow squares and placing them over the blue line this time.

All there’s left to do is repeating the process of placing shadows and moving a blue line “below” the red every now and then.




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