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Up until this point we discuss two main ways to think about building artwork inside of Illustrator. The first one is using a set of functions called Pathfinder. We discussed different things like shape modes, compound shapes and also Pathfinder functions themselves. Then we discussed this world of Live Paint. Live Paint allows us to look at our art work visually. We can lay down our path anywhere that we want, but we can decide to actually fill those paths or apply attributes like strokes based on how we see them on the screen.
In this chapter, we're going to focus on a third way to build artwork inside of Illustrator using a new feature, it's actually a new tool that was added in Illustrator CS5. It's called the Shape Builder tool. But before we discuss the tool itself which by the way it's found right here inside the Tools panel the Shape Builder tool. Keyboard shortcut for that is Shift+M. Don't ask me why, but that's I guess one that was available. So the question really is why was this tool added? If we already have Pathfinder and we already have Live Paint, what is the use for adding yet another way to build artwork using this Shape Builder tool? So let's discuss a couple of things about Illustrator itself.
We're going to draw two rectangles here just to use as an example. I have two overlapping rectangles. We already know that if you want to start performing different building functions like Add and Subtract, we can use Pathfinder. But first of all the word pathfinder doesn't really denote building artwork. So many people who are new to Illustrator never knew to look for Pathfinder. Or even if they found Pathfinder, they couldn't really understand exactly what it might be used for. On top of that, the Pathfinder functions themselves, if I take a look at the panel right over here, is just a whole bunch of buttons and the buttons have all these names like Add and Subtract or Unite and Minus Front or these like Trim and Merge and Crop for example.
So it may be difficult to understand what each of these functions do. So I found that even people who are experienced inside of Illustrator very often use Pathfinder in the following way: they'll select some artwork and then they'll click one button and they go, "oh no wait that wasn't what I wanted to do" and they will press Command+Z or Ctrl+Z to Undo, then they'll click on the next one Undo, click on the next one until they go "oh yeah that's the shape that I was trying to get at." So very often, the Pathfinder functions are there, but they're not very intuitive and it's hard for us to memorize exactly what each of them do and it's also hard for us to know exactly when we want to use each of them for any particular design task.
So Adobe wanted to provide a better way. Or I should say a more intuitive way for us to work with Pathfinder. Now yes Live Paint came along in Illustrator CS 2, but the problem with Live Paint is that first of all again the name. It's says Live Paint and we don't always think about painting inside of Illustrator. So for editing paths and for creating artwork I may not think to use Live Paint for that kind of work. On top of that, as we've already discussed in the previous chapter, Live Paint requires the use of creating groups.
If we don't create the groups we don't get the benefit of using Live Paint and because many designers don't necessarily know about the benefits of working with groups or they're not careful enough when they structure their artwork to create these distinct groups, it may be very difficult for them to learn how to not only use but also take advantage of working with Live Paint. So because of the existing issues with both Pathfinder and also with Live Paint, Adobe kind of took a step back and said "We want to get the benefits of Pathfinder, but we wanted to be as intuitive to use and is wonderful from a visual expression as the Live Paint feature is, so let's kind of take both of these and create a new tool called the Shape Builder tool." Not only is it named in the way that I can now understand what I'm trying to do with it, it obviously helps me build shapes, but we'll soon see that it combines the best of what Pathfinder offers and the best of what Live Paint offers.
So throughout this chapter we're going to dive into this world of the Shape Builder tool and we'll see how easy it is and more importantly how fast it is for us to build artwork intuitively inside of Illustrator.
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