Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started

Animated Character Design with Illustrator
Illustration by John Hersey

Combining shapes and tools


From:

Animated Character Design with Illustrator

with Angie Taylor

Video: Combining shapes and tools

Now sometimes, the easiest way to create a complex shape is to use a combination of tools. And I'm going to show you how to create a complex shape using a variety of different tools here in the tool palette. Now, the file that I have open is called combiningshapes.ai, and you can find that in the creating complex shapes folder. Now what we're going to do here is we're going to start by choosing a primitive, just a ellipse tool. And I'm going to start by drawing his belly. So I'm going to click here in the center, hold down the Alt key, and that allows me to draw from the center out, and then I can just decide how fat I want his belly and get it exactly where I want it and release it.

Watch this entire course now—plus get access to every course in the library. Each course includes high-quality videos taught by expert instructors.

Become a member
Please wait...
Animated Character Design with Illustrator
2h 33m Intermediate Jan 14, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This workshop from author and animator Angie Taylor teaches how to use Illustrator's tools and features to prepare 2D files for animation in Adobe After Effects. Discover how to make the most of Illustrator's drawing tools and Autotrace feature, and to how use Live Paint and Kuler to recolor artwork. Plus, get a ton of tips and tricks for giving artwork a hand-drawn look and find out how to set up layers, aspect ratios, and transparency options for importing into After Effects. The lessons are focused and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the work area
  • Bringing artwork into Illustrator
  • Tracing artwork manually
  • Creating complex shapes
  • Working with paths
  • Using Live Trace
  • Coloring artwork
  • Applying 3D effects
  • Exporting artboards
  • Options for saving files
Subjects:
3D + Animation Design Illustration Character Animation video2brain
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Angie Taylor

Combining shapes and tools

Now sometimes, the easiest way to create a complex shape is to use a combination of tools. And I'm going to show you how to create a complex shape using a variety of different tools here in the tool palette. Now, the file that I have open is called combiningshapes.ai, and you can find that in the creating complex shapes folder. Now what we're going to do here is we're going to start by choosing a primitive, just a ellipse tool. And I'm going to start by drawing his belly. So I'm going to click here in the center, hold down the Alt key, and that allows me to draw from the center out, and then I can just decide how fat I want his belly and get it exactly where I want it and release it.

Now, I can use free transform on that if I need to rotate it a little bit, or move it just to get it exactly where I want it. Now, I've done that, I can create a copy of it just by going back to the selection tool, and holding down the Alt key that allows me to drag a copy of that file. And again, using the Free Transform tool, just transform it to the shape that you want. Okay, when you're doing this kind of work you probably want start leaning your keyboard shortcuts. So the Selection tool is V, if you want to quickly get back to selecting that you just hit v on the keyboard, and that allows you to just Alt, click, and drag without having to go back up to the tool palette, and again if you want free transform, it's the E key to Free Transform and just make a slight adjustment.

Okay. So back to V to select the Selection tool. Move it into place holding down the alt key to make a copy, and then Free Transform is E. And we just make that a little bit smaller and fit into place for the bicep. And what we're creating here is a kind of t-shirt. So in fact that's a little bit too big there, so let's just bring that down so it's not quite covering his face. Okay, and then we'll create another copy. Again, V to select the Selection tool, hold down Alt to create a copy, and bring it over to the other side and make any adjustments that are necessary.

So we've got the rough body shape. Quite often it's much easier to build up someone's body by using primitives like this. Takes the pain away from drawing. You start by building the primitives, and then you make adjustments with the other tools. So what I am going to do now is use another tool, the Pen tool, just to create this scalloped edge here, the collar shape. So I am just going to create a nice curve here just by using a my beziate tools and then we'll just fill it in by clicking and dragging along there.

Now, now that we have those shapes, there's a couple of techniques we can use to combine them. I'm going to show you the old fashioned way because it's still very useful, and then I'll show you a new way. So the old fashioned way would be to select one of these shapes, and then I can use the Select Similar button to select all the other shapes, and if I need the options, I've got options there to choose by fill color, stroke color, fill in stroke, et cetera, et cetera. So it's a quick way of selecting multiple items. I can then use the pathfinder palette. And I'm going to open the pathfinder.

Now the pathfinder allows you to combine shapes in different ways. If I click on this one, it will unite all the shapes together. If I undo that and click on this one, it will remove the front shape from the back shape. So it's taking all those front shapes off this back shape. And there's various different ways you can use expand. There's all sorts of different ways of combining shapes. So I would probably use unite, and that would create a shape that's then editable like any other shape. Now another way of combining these shapes together is to use this tool here, and this is called the shape builder tool.

And you can see the keyboard shortcut for that is shift M. And it allows me to highlight shapes and intersections of shapes, and allow me to join them together. So if I wanted to join this shape with only this shape, I can just drag between those two shapes and then they become a united shape. I can then also attach them to this shape, and that creates one solid shape there. And I can continue to drag and combine these shapes together and I don't have to do it individually I can do it in one drag, like this.

And you'll see that, that's a nice intuitive way of being to join shapes together. Okay. And once you have this shape, exactly as the same techniques as we used before. You can use things like the Smooth tool to smooth out bumps. You can even use the Pencil tool just to create slightly smoother edges here and there, and we can use various other tools to roughen the edges and things like that. Now the other tool that really like to use is the eraser tool, and the eraser tool is fantastic. For example, here I was to create a scalloped edge, and instead of having to adjust these anchor points, all I need to do is just choose the eraser tool and I can just erase a curved shape from there to create a sleeve for his t-shirt. And again, do the same here.

In fact, if I make the brush big enough, I don't even need to drag. I just need to click once, to remove a scalloped edge from the T-shirt. So, now I've got a couple of sleeves. That one's not quite in the right place, so I'm just going to redo that. I need to make my brush a little bit smaller. And there we have a scalloped edge for that T-shirt, too. And I'll just finish off that edge there. So using this combination of tools, you can start to create a kind of sculpture effect by combining shapes together like this.

There are currently no FAQs about Animated Character Design with Illustrator.

Share a link to this course
Please wait... Please wait...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.
Upgrade now


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Upgrade now

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Animated Character Design with Illustrator.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Welcome to the redesigned course page.

We’ve moved some things around, and now you can



Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked