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Why the Shape Builder tool was created

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

Video: Why the Shape Builder tool was created

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.

Why the Shape Builder tool was created

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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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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