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Drawing basic shapes

From: Up and Running with Illustrator

Video: Drawing basic shapes

In this exercise, we are going to create our first piece of artwork. Specifically, we are going to use those custom guides that we created in the previous exercise in order to instruct a kind of American star motif using Illustrator's Shape tools. We are going to start off by creating three red stripes each of which will represent using a rectangle. So I am going to drop down here to my Shape tools and if you have been working along with me, you will probably see the Ellipse tool. Go ahead and click and hold in order to bring up the Shape tool flyout menu and then go ahead and choose the Rectangle tool which has a keyboard shortcut of M.

Drawing basic shapes

In this exercise, we are going to create our first piece of artwork. Specifically, we are going to use those custom guides that we created in the previous exercise in order to instruct a kind of American star motif using Illustrator's Shape tools. We are going to start off by creating three red stripes each of which will represent using a rectangle. So I am going to drop down here to my Shape tools and if you have been working along with me, you will probably see the Ellipse tool. Go ahead and click and hold in order to bring up the Shape tool flyout menu and then go ahead and choose the Rectangle tool which has a keyboard shortcut of M.

And the M, by the way, stands for the word Marquee. Now I am going to go ahead and draw from this location right there. Notice that I have positioned my cursor two guidelines down and one guideline into the right and I can see this little green word intersect. That's a Smart Guide label that's telling me that my cursor writes exactly at the intersection of two guidelines. If you're not seeing the green Smart Guides then go up to the View menu and make sure Smart Guides is turned on. All right! I am going to go ahead and draw the rectangle so that it takes up nearly the entire width of the page just one guideline in and its two guidelines tall.

And I went ahead and created my rectangle from the left to the right side of the screen. You can work in the opposite direction if you like. Bear in mind that I'm left-handed so I sometimes do things little differently than other folks. The next couple of rectangles, we will be creating are going to be the same size so we could just go ahead and duplicate the existing rectangle to a couple of new positions. However, because we have all these guidelines at our disposal it's just as easy to draw each of the rectangles from scratch. So I'll go ahead and draw another rectangle like so, and then a third rectangle down here in the lower portion of the artboard.

Now I want to go ahead and select all three of these rectangles by going up to the Select menu and choosing the All command to select all three of those shapes. Remember that I've locked down my guidelines, so I am selecting just the rectangles and none of the guides. Next, go up to the Control panel underneath the menu bar here, and click on this very first color swatch. It should appear white for you. That represents the fill that is the interior of each one of these shapes, all three of which are currently white.

Clicking on that swatch brings up the Swatches panel. Go ahead and click that CMYK red swatch in order to fill those stripes with red. All right! The next shape we want to create is the circle at the center of the artboard and we are going to exactly align our circle to the existing circular guide, by clicking and holding on the Rectangle tool and choosing the Ellipse tool from the flyout menu, and then I want you to position your cursor like so, so that you are intersecting not only that first horizontal guide in the artboard but you'll also see a green vertical line that lines up with the left side of the elliptical guide.

Then go ahead and drag like so and as you drag to constrain this shape to a circle, go ahead and press and hold the Shift key, and then you'll eventually see this vertical green line that's lined up with the right side of the circular guide. Then go ahead and release in order to create a big red circle. And the idea is once you change the color of an object that becomes the default color for the next object you draw. I am going to go up here to the Control panel, click on that red swatch and I'm going to select a shade of blue specifically this guy right there, C 100, M 95, Y=5 and K=0.

CMYK, by the way, stands for the primary printing inks which are cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Black being the key color that's why it's K. I'll go ahead and click on blue in order to select it. Then I will press the Escape key in order to hide that panel and the final shape we need to create is a star. I will go ahead and click and hold on the Ellipse tool, here inside the toolbox then I will choose a Star tool from the flyout menu. And you always draw stars from the center outward inside of Illustrator, so start at the center of the artboard and you should see a little green word center, that's telling you that you're aligned to the center of in this case the circle.

And then go ahead and drag outward, like so. A couple of things about the Star tool. First of all, if you press the Up Arrow key you'll add points to the star; if you press the Down Arrow key, you'll remove points from the star. In all, we want a total five points. Also notice that the sides don't really line up with each other. So to create a perfect five point in American star, you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and then those opposite sides are exactly in alignment. Keep that Alt or Option key down to make the star straight up and down so that it's not at this angle here.

Press and hold the Shift key. So you should have both the Shift and Alt keys down on the PC, the Shift and Option keys down on the Mac. When you get your star about this big go ahead and release the mouse button and then release the keys. Next, go back up to the Control panel, click on that blue swatch and change that Fill Color to White. Finally, I want you to go ahead and press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac and what we need to do is get rid of the outlines around each one of our shapes which are known as the strokes.

And the second swatch in up here in the Control panel represents the stroke. Go ahead and click on it to bring up that Swatches panel once again and this time click on the first swatch which is None and that goes ahead and gets rid of those strokes Then in order to deselect everything inside the illustration, you can either go to the Select menu and choose that Deselect command but I recommend you remember that keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+Shift+A on the Mac. And finally I'm going to hide my guides by going up to the View menu, choosing the Guides command and then choosing Hide Guides and that is our finished illustration.

Thanks to the simplicity of the Shape tools here inside Illustrator.

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Up and Running with Illustrator

26 video lessons · 20577 viewers

Deke McClelland
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