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Join Justin Seeley, lynda.com staff author and design enthusiast, each week for a new 5-minute, self-contained tutorial that you can use to instantly improve your design workflow. This series covers techniques for print, digital, and web design, addressing the tools that creative professionals like you use most. Learn new ways to leverage layer styles and vector shapes in Adobe Photoshop, work more efficiently with text in Illustrator, and embed videos and even tweets in WordPress posts, and much more. Check back each week for a new installment, and a new design hack.
Hi there. Welcome back to another installment of creative quick tips. My name is Justin Seely and this week we are going to talk Illustrator and a little trick that I have for using the Shape Builder tool in a way that you're not used to. So, the first thing we're going to do is were just going to create a brand new document. Does not matter how big or how small. And then you're just going to draw some shapes. So draw out something like a rectangle. Then go over here and grab the Ellipse tool, draw something out like that and then maybe even go and grab something like the Star tool.
And we'll add a few more layers to that like this. And I'm doing that just for the up arrow key, by the way. Once I do that I have everything in place that I need. And so what we're going to do here is we're going to use the Shape Builder tool to combine these together. And if you don't know what the Shape Builder tool is, it's basically it allows you to draw complex shapes without actually having to draw anything, it just combines them. So I'm going to invoke that tool with Shift+M on the keyboard and then you'll notice that when I mouse over different areas, it highlights. That's because it's indicating me areas that are about to be combined or subtracted.
So what I'm going to do is, I'm just going to make sort of an interesting looking shape here. So I'm going to hold down the Option key to subtract this part. Just like this and then I'll also remove these little pieces like this. There we go. And then I'm going to combine these two. So I'm not going to hold down the Option key anymore. And we'll just combine like this and then start adding in like that. So this is basically how the Shape Builder tool works. And that's the normal way that you would have it work. It turns everything into one shape. The problem with this, is that by default it always colors the object the same as the colors that you're working with.
It doesn't allow you to change the color at all. So what I'm going to do is show you a little trick and I'll just Cmd or Ctrl+Z until I get everything back. And then, I'm going to select them all again and then we're going to use shape builder again. But this time, I'm going to use the shade builder to actually color the artwork as I create the shapes. In order to do that, what I'm going to do is come over to the Shade Builder tool on the Tools panel and double-click on it. When I do that, I'm going to turn this on right here, Cursor Swatch Preview and I'm also going to make sure that it's picking the colors from. The color swatches.
I want the full color swatches over there. Hit OK. This cursor probably looks familiar. It looks a little bit like live paint and that's exactly what it does. First of all, I'm going to remove the shapes I don't want by holding down the Option key and dragging across them. Now, I want to combine these shapes, but I want to change the color. So I'm just going to use my arrow keys. Check out as I move my arrow keys around. I'll actually move this onto the artwork so you can see it. I'm choosing a color that I'm going to fill with, just by tapping around on my arrow keys. So if I want this light blue, I'll just click here, drag across.
There we go. Let's say I want to change the color. Come here and it changes to that color. And I'm like eh, well, I don't really like that either. Okay, let's cycle back through, and let's find, maybe, a green color that I like. No problem. Like that a lot better. So we'll just keep dragging across. And now it takes on whatever color I have selected. On that little cursor right there. And so this is just a great way to instantly color and combine shapes in Illustrator using the Shape Builder tool. It basically builds in live paint along with the shape builder, all at the same time.
It's a little known feature that a lot of people don't really use a lot, but I think it's really useful. Especially if you're creating really complex shapes and you need to apply color along the way. It's going to get you there that much faster, saving you the time from creating the shape and then going over and selecting the color. You can do it all simultaneously, and it's really going to speed up your work flow.
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