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Using the Shape Builder tool

From: Illustrator for Web Design

Video: Using the Shape Builder tool

In the previous movie we discussed how to create more complex shapes by utilizing something called the Pathfinder panel. In this movie, I'm going to take that one step further and show you a method that's even easier, and also a lot more visual, for creating complex shapes with very little effort. So I've got the same file open here. I'm going to close the Pathfinder panel because I don't need it anymore, and I'm going to start building this robot the same way I did before, but this time I'm only going to use one tool. I don't even need to open up a panel. I'm going to use something called the Shape Builder tool, and the easy way to use the Shape Builder tool is to press Shift and the letter M on your keyboard, or you can find this icon right here, Shape Builder tool. With the Shape Builder tool selected, when you first bring it out on the canvas, if you don't have anything selected, you're going to notice that you're not able to do anything.

Using the Shape Builder tool

In the previous movie we discussed how to create more complex shapes by utilizing something called the Pathfinder panel. In this movie, I'm going to take that one step further and show you a method that's even easier, and also a lot more visual, for creating complex shapes with very little effort. So I've got the same file open here. I'm going to close the Pathfinder panel because I don't need it anymore, and I'm going to start building this robot the same way I did before, but this time I'm only going to use one tool. I don't even need to open up a panel. I'm going to use something called the Shape Builder tool, and the easy way to use the Shape Builder tool is to press Shift and the letter M on your keyboard, or you can find this icon right here, Shape Builder tool. With the Shape Builder tool selected, when you first bring it out on the canvas, if you don't have anything selected, you're going to notice that you're not able to do anything.

I'm clicking and dragging right now and I can't get it to do anything. So what we need to do is we need to select some things and then use the Shape Builder tool to allow us to build shapes with it. So I'm going to grab my Selection tool and I'm going to start off with the neck, just like I did in the previous movie, just like this, to select that. And I'll press Shift+M to select the Shape Builder tool. And I want to use all of these as a single shape, I want to unite them as a single shape, so I'm going to hold down the Shift key, click and drag out a selection until all of them turn gray, like this.

And once I release my mouse, they are united into one single shape. And if I click away from it, you can see one single shape. Now I'm going to do the same thing for the head. So I want the head up here. I want that to be united with this top part here, the stem, and the top of the antenna, and I'm going to include the ears in this as well. And so then I'm going to press Shift+M on my keyboard to access the Shape Builder tool again, and this time I'm going to simply draw across.

And when I draw across, you're going to notice that it tries to get everything, but it has trouble getting everything, so I'm going to let go somewhere outside of it so it doesn't do anything and then from here I'm going to come up to the top-left corner, hold down the Shift key, click and drag a selection out, and unite those shapes that way. When you click and drag with the Shape Builder tool, it allows you to create a shape, as long as it's within the eye line of that straight line, but if you hold down Shift, you can make a selection with it. With this object selected, I'll switch back to my Selection tool and then I'll use Command or Ctrl and the left bracket key to place that back behind everything.

Now I'm going to select the eyes, the one on the left first, Shift+M. And so remember, we want to take out the middle part of the eye, so in order to do that, I'm going to hold down the Option or Alt key on my keyboard. You'll notice when I do that the plus sign turns into a minus. And when I click, it just removes that portion from that shape. So now this shape is just like a donut. Let's do the same thing over here. I'll Shift+Click to select both of these, Shift+M to bring up the Shape Builder tool, go to the middle, hold down the Option or Alt key, click, and remove the middle piece.

Last part here, I'm going to select the head, select the mouth, and just Shift+Clicking to select it. I'm going to grab the Shape Builder tool one last time, go to the mouth, hold down Option or Alt, click, and now the mouth has been subtracted from that. And I can then add the color in, like I did before. So now I'll just come over here, give this a no Stroke, go to the Swatches panel, give this a light gray, select both the eyes, no Stroke, dark gray, the neck, and here's a cool trick here: If I want this to look just like the eyes, I'll just grab the Eyedropper tool and click on one of the eyes. It automatically changes it over to look just like that. And then we'll select the body, no stroke, and an orange body, like so.

So there you have it. We have designed this little robot icon here in just a few short measly steps by utilizing the Shape Builder tool inside of Illustrator. It makes it so much easier to design in a visual way and combine shapes without having to worry about, well, what does this Pathfinder operation mean, or what does this Shape tool mean? All you have to do is know how to draw basic shapes, overlap them on top of one another, and then either subtract or add them together using the Shape Builder tool, and you can create some amazing artwork with very little effort.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator for Web Design
Illustrator for Web Design

67 video lessons · 24995 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
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  1. 1m 13s
    1. Welcome
      50s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 43m 51s
    1. Designing for screens
      1m 57s
    2. Decoding screen size and resolution
      2m 40s
    3. Exploring the Illustrator to HTML workflow
      3m 42s
    4. Setting up Illustrator for web work
      6m 55s
    5. Creating a new document for web
      6m 25s
    6. Creating a new document for mobile
      3m 31s
    7. Using artboards for responsive layouts
      7m 42s
    8. Creating email newsletter documents
      4m 31s
    9. Working with Pixel Preview and anti-aliasing
      6m 28s
  3. 25m 28s
    1. Adjusting color settings
      6m 47s
    2. Understanding web color
      3m 47s
    3. Creating a color palette
      5m 4s
    4. Creating custom swatches
      4m 50s
    5. Working with fills and strokes
      5m 0s
  4. 13m 15s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      5m 21s
    2. Renaming and grouping layers
      7m 54s
  5. 24m 5s
    1. Drawing simple shapes
      4m 16s
    2. Working with Pathfinder
      5m 4s
    3. Using the Shape Builder tool
      4m 33s
    4. Creating symbols
      6m 24s
    5. Editing and replacing symbols
      3m 48s
  6. 20m 22s
    1. Planning your project
      2m 56s
    2. Using guides and rulers
      5m 56s
    3. Developing a layout with shapes
      6m 21s
    4. Using a grid system
      5m 9s
  7. 25m 53s
    1. Exploring the rules of typography
      4m 1s
    2. Using text as text vs. using text as an image
      3m 37s
    3. Understanding web-safe fonts
      1m 46s
    4. Creating and using paragraph styles
      5m 16s
    5. Creating and using character styles
      3m 2s
    6. Simulating the CSS box model
      8m 11s
  8. 21m 17s
    1. Understanding object appearance
      4m 43s
    2. Applying and editing live effects
      3m 34s
    3. Creating and using drop shadows
      3m 13s
    4. Creating more flexible rounded rectangles
      3m 17s
    5. Saving appearance as graphic styles
      6m 30s
  9. 35m 57s
    1. Starting with a wireframe
      5m 23s
    2. Adding master elements
      6m 45s
    3. Creating navigation buttons
      13m 34s
    4. Working with photographs
      5m 50s
    5. Simulating pages with artboards
      4m 25s
  10. 54m 45s
    1. Creating video placeholders
      10m 33s
    2. Creating buttons
      13m 1s
    3. Creating form fields
      8m 15s
    4. Creating radio boxes and checkboxes
      5m 11s
    5. Creating progress bars
      10m 12s
    6. Creating tabbed interfaces
      7m 33s
  11. 35m 28s
    1. Understanding slicing
      3m 26s
    2. Slicing up a mockup
      3m 6s
    3. Understanding web file formats
      5m 33s
    4. Exploring the Save for Web dialog
      3m 50s
    5. Optimizing photographs
      4m 29s
    6. Optimizing transparent graphics
      4m 43s
    7. Saving Retina display graphics
      3m 46s
    8. Exporting SVG graphics
      6m 35s
  12. 9m 29s
    1. Understanding image sprites
      3m 4s
    2. Creating a sprite grid
      4m 36s
    3. Optimizing sprites for the web
      1m 49s
  13. 15m 29s
    1. Placing Illustrator Smart Objects
      3m 22s
    2. Sharing color swatches between apps
      2m 9s
    3. Exporting Illustrator artwork as a PSD
      3m 49s
    4. Importing artwork into Fireworks
      2m 41s
    5. Exporting HTML from Illustrator
      3m 28s
  14. 1m 19s
    1. Taking the next step
      1m 1s
    2. Goodbye
      18s

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