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Using Gap Detection with the Shape Builder tool

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

Video: Using Gap Detection with the Shape Builder tool

So we can see that the Shape Builder tool is really a combination of both Pathfinder and of Live Paint. However, there was an aspect of Live Paint that we haven't seen yet. Live Paint had this really cool feature called Gap Detection. It allowed us to define regions in our artwork, even though the regions themselves were not completely closed, and in fact, if we take a look at this ear over here of Mister Zee and I select this area. If I want to use my Shape Builder tool to apply different colors to maybe the ear and also some shading over here, you can see that the Shape Builder sees these as one region and that's because there's a gap over here, and the gap identifies this as one single shape.

Using Gap Detection with the Shape Builder tool

So we can see that the Shape Builder tool is really a combination of both Pathfinder and of Live Paint. However, there was an aspect of Live Paint that we haven't seen yet. Live Paint had this really cool feature called Gap Detection. It allowed us to define regions in our artwork, even though the regions themselves were not completely closed, and in fact, if we take a look at this ear over here of Mister Zee and I select this area. If I want to use my Shape Builder tool to apply different colors to maybe the ear and also some shading over here, you can see that the Shape Builder sees these as one region and that's because there's a gap over here, and the gap identifies this as one single shape.

So I have one shape here, but only one shape here. Wouldn't it be cool if I could have Gap Detection when using the Shape Builder tool as well? Well, guess what? It's there, although it's turned off by default. The main reason why is because Gap Detection does take a little bit extra memory or kind of more processing power for Illustrator to use when it's analyzing your artwork. If you can imagine a really large piece of artwork with many paths, having Gap Detection turned on, could slow things down a little bit.

However, in this case here, really we're going to be using things kind of one off as we're building artwork, so it's okay to have this feature turned on. I'm going to come over here to the Tools panel and double-click once again on my Shape Builder tool and that brings up the Shape Builder tool Options dialog box, where I'll see at the top an option called Gap Detection. Like I said, by default, this option is turned off. But I'm going to turn it on and once again just as with Live Paint, I'm able to determine how large of a gap I can allow and I can also specify a custom value as well.

I'm going to leave it set to Small and click OK. Now you'll notice that when I mouse over these areas, they are identified as their own individual regions. So because I have the ability now to color my artwork also, I'm going to use the arrow keys on my keyboard to toggle to the black color, click once over here to actually color this part black, and let's actually get a few gray colors as well, maybe kind of add a little bit of a gray color there just for some shading. I just want to show you by the way what happened here. When Illustrator now had to create a close filled shape in order to apply the color, Illustrator simply found that gap and just closed it off with a path.

So if I kind of pull these shapes apart here, you can see what Illustrator created here. It's not that perfect. So I may want to kind of go in and clean that up a little bit. However, if I have really small gaps, I may not even care about it, I may not even notice it, but I can still close and fill those areas using the Shape Builder tool. So now we come full circle. We see that the Shape Builder tool gives us the power that Pathfinder brings to us but the intuitive nature and the really cool features of Live Paint. It doesn't mean that you can use the Shape Builder tool, and forget about Live Paint, and forget about Pathfinder, I think that on a day-to-day basis, the Shape Builder tool is going to be really powerful and very useful for the work that you do.

However, there will always be times where you might want to use Live Paint and might want to use the benefits of a live structure, especially when you understand the benefits of working with groups, and there are many times when you'd really just want to have a quick one-off Pathfinder, especially if you're already familiar with it. Perhaps most importantly, you now have mastery over three ways of building artwork inside of Illustrator. Pathfinder, Live Paint, and Shape Builder.

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This video is part of

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  1. 7m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 21s
    2. The evolution of vector drawing
      3m 46s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      27s
  2. 39m 2s
    1. Plotting points vs. drawing paths
      5m 36s
    2. Drawing artwork vs. building artwork
      7m 59s
    3. The keyboard shortcuts you HAVE to know
      8m 52s
    4. Groups and layers really do matter
      3m 11s
    5. Taming Smart Guides and the Bounding Box
      10m 53s
    6. Do you need a drawing tablet?
      2m 31s
  3. 47m 51s
    1. To sketch or not to sketch?
      2m 32s
    2. Setting up a template layer for your sketch
      3m 37s
    3. Optimizing default settings for drawing
      5m 27s
    4. Using the primitive shapes tools
      5m 7s
    5. Mastering the modifier keys
      2m 8s
    6. Mastering the transform tools
      6m 37s
    7. Creating curves with the Reshape tool
      6m 44s
    8. Using the Smooth tool
      3m 35s
    9. Using Simplify to create smooth paths
      3m 2s
    10. Recording an action for the Simplify command
      5m 2s
    11. Mirroring art for speed and accuracy
      4m 0s
  4. 50m 18s
    1. Deconstructing the Pathfinder panel
      1m 56s
    2. Using the Shape Modes functions
      12m 4s
    3. Using the Pathfinder functions
      13m 4s
    4. Understanding how compound shapes work
      11m 45s
    5. Understanding why compound shapes exist
      7m 32s
    6. Exploring additional Pathfinder options
      3m 57s
  5. 52m 51s
    1. Why Live Paint was created
      10m 45s
    2. Creating a Live Paint group
      4m 21s
    3. Using the Live Paint Bucket tool
      7m 8s
    4. Using Live Paint with open paths
      5m 6s
    5. Detecting gaps in Live Paint groups
      3m 42s
    6. Adding paths to a Live Paint group
      5m 34s
    7. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      6m 28s
    8. Releasing and expanding Live Paint groups
      2m 59s
    9. Understanding how Live Paint works
      6m 48s
  6. 27m 37s
    1. Why the Shape Builder tool was created
      4m 18s
    2. Focusing on the big three: Add, Subtract, and Divide
      2m 27s
    3. Using the Shape Builder tool to add and subtract artwork
      9m 50s
    4. Using the Shape Builder to divide artwork
      3m 48s
    5. Building and coloring artwork at the same time
      3m 50s
    6. Using Gap Detection with the Shape Builder tool
      3m 24s
  7. 23m 2s
    1. Understanding how variable widths work
      8m 25s
    2. Modifying width points along a path
      7m 9s
    3. Saving time with width profiles
      5m 14s
    4. Turning variable width strokes into filled paths
      2m 14s
  8. 28m 21s
    1. Understanding how the Pen and Pencil tools differ
      4m 41s
    2. Adjusting the behavior of the Pencil tool
      7m 5s
    3. Using the Path Eraser tool
      1m 17s
    4. Drawing with the Calligraphic Brush tool
      5m 43s
    5. Drawing with the Blob Brush tool
      5m 53s
    6. Using the Eraser tool
      3m 42s
  9. 3m 44s
    1. Looking at the VectorScribe plug-in
      2m 16s
    2. Next steps
      1m 28s

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