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Using the primitive shapes tools

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

Video: Using the primitive shapes tools

So we've placed our image into our document as a template. We've set out defaults correctly. Now we're ready to start creating some artwork. And the first thing we're going to start with here is working with the Primitive Shape tools. I mean the very basic shapes. Things like polygons, triangles, rectangles, circles, so and so forth. So let's explore some of these tools, some of them are very basic and you already know them but some of them also have some hidden settings inside of them. For example, I'll come over here to the Rectangle tool and as I click and drag with the Rectangle tool I'll see that I'm drawing my shape out from the upper left-hand corner. But if I hold down my Option key you'll notice that I'm now drawing my shape out from its center.

Using the primitive shapes tools

So we've placed our image into our document as a template. We've set out defaults correctly. Now we're ready to start creating some artwork. And the first thing we're going to start with here is working with the Primitive Shape tools. I mean the very basic shapes. Things like polygons, triangles, rectangles, circles, so and so forth. So let's explore some of these tools, some of them are very basic and you already know them but some of them also have some hidden settings inside of them. For example, I'll come over here to the Rectangle tool and as I click and drag with the Rectangle tool I'll see that I'm drawing my shape out from the upper left-hand corner. But if I hold down my Option key you'll notice that I'm now drawing my shape out from its center.

Likewise the Shift key allows me to constrain it to a perfect square. So these are the things that we've already discussed. I also know that I can press and hold the Spacebar and now that freezes my drawing and if I move my mouse it actually move that rectangle around to another position. When I release this Spacebar I can continue dragging with my mouse. The secret about drawing with basic shape tools inside of Illustrator is to keep the mouse button down. As soon as you release the mouse button you commit the shape and now it can no longer be changed until you start modifying the path itself.

Press Delete button here to get rid of that rectangle. And let's say I wanted to draw a triangle. Well how would I do that? I don't have to use the Pen tool to do that. I can come here and instead of choosing the Rectangle tool I'll choose the Polygon tool. Next, I'm going to click and drag, I'm going to keep my mouse button down, and now I'm going to use the down arrow key on my keyboard. Each time that I press the down arrow key it removes one side from my object. So now I have a pentagon, now I have a four-sided object, and now I have a three-sided object which is a triangle.

If I also hold down the Shift key, it will align the base to be perfectly straight and now if I let go over the mouse I've gotten a triangle. So the fastest way to draw a triangle is to use the Polygon tool. Let's explore few other shapes. I'm going to delete the triangle here. Let's go now to for example the Star tool. When I click and drag with the Star tool I get a five-pointed star, but again if I use the up arrow or the down arrow I add or remove points of my star. If I hold down the Command key-- I'm on my Mac, so if you're Windows that would be the Ctrl key-- you can click and drag and that changes the delta between the inner radius and the outer radius of the star.

And any time I can press the Spacebar, reposition it somewhere else, maybe move it over here and then continue drawing it this way. Once I release the mouse I've now committed the star to that shape. Let me press Delete again. You'll notice, by the way, the way these tools are grouped, Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse tool, the Polygon tool and the Star tool, they all create filled or closed objects. If I go over here to these Primitive Shape tools like the Line Segment tool, the Arc tool, the Spiral tool, and these Grid tools, they create open paths and that's really why they are grouped in two separate areas.

The Line Segment tool is extremely helpful to use. If you click and drag and create straight lines, we're going to see that we will sometimes create straight lines even if at the end of the day we want that line to be curved. It can be easier sometimes to start out using a straight line. And again, the same rules apply as well. So if I hit the Delete key to get the rid of it, as I click and drag and If I hold down my Option key, it draws that line off from the center, and if I press the Spacebar it allows me to reposition that, and when I let go over the mouse I can now commit that shape to my artboard. I'm going to delete this line here.

Now there's another Primitive Shape tool which I find very helpful inside of Illustrator and that's the Arc tool. I'll come over here to my Tools panel and I'll choose the Arc tool and when I click and drag it creates an arc. Really if you want to match in a circle or an oval for example, and you just basically split it into four sections, an arc is just one of those fourths. It's a quarter of an ellipse. But as I'm drawing that shape and I'm moving it around, before I actually commit the shape I can use the up and the down arrows to adjust how sharp or steep that angle is when I create the arc.

I can use another keyboard shortcut which is the F key which will allow me to Flip the arc from being convex to concave. It's a toggle that goes one way or the other. It's only when I release the mouse that I commit that arc to the artboard. So let me delete this. As an example, when I'm looking at Mr. Z over here and I look at this shape over here, this could be an arc. And if I click over here with the Arc tool and kind of drag downwards I can basically increase the angle here just a little bit or maybe even decrease it, and kind of match exactly maybe what the shape looks like right over here.

Forget about the part that is extra over here, we're going to see there are easy ways for us to remove that, but for now I've got a nice clean, smooth arc that's going to match one of the stripes on Mister Zee. The most important aspect of all these tools that we're using, these Primitive Shape tools whether they're filled objects whether they're open paths, is that I'm really not focusing on anchor points. I'm really kind of drawing the paths themselves. So I'm looking at the artwork that I have as my sketch, I'm simply trying to match it up with the paths that I'm drawing, lay it down and then later on combine those paths to build the final version of my artwork.

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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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