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Illustrator CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Working with the Shape Builder tool


From:

Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

with Justin Seeley

Video: Working with the Shape Builder tool

Up until now, we have been relying on the Pathfinder feature to get our complex artwork created here inside of Illustrator. Now I am going to show you a way that's a little bit more visual, and a little bit more easy to use. It's called the Shape Builder tool, and it's a great way to create complex artwork without all the guesswork that's involved with the Pathfinder. You see, the thing that's a little bit confusing about the Pathfinder is that all those buttons aren't necessarily descriptive, and people get confused as to what they do. So people spend time clicking, seeing what it does, undoing, clicking, seeing what it does, undoing; it's very tedious.
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  1. 1m 15s
    1. What is Illustrator?
      1m 15s
  2. 2m 17s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
  3. 41m 25s
    1. Understanding vector graphics
      5m 0s
    2. Setting preferences
      9m 24s
    3. Touring the interface
      9m 41s
    4. Exploring the panels
      6m 54s
    5. Working with the Control panel
      4m 25s
    6. Creating and saving workspaces
      6m 1s
  4. 43m 42s
    1. Creating files for print
      4m 42s
    2. Creating files for the web
      3m 36s
    3. Managing multiple documents
      3m 25s
    4. Navigating within a document
      5m 21s
    5. Using rulers, guides, and grids
      6m 59s
    6. Changing units of measurement
      1m 50s
    7. Using preview modes
      3m 10s
    8. Creating and using custom views
      3m 12s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 43s
    10. Creating and using artboards
      7m 44s
  5. 1h 1m
    1. Setting your selection preferences
      5m 57s
    2. Using the Direct Selection and Group Selection tools
      4m 6s
    3. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 45s
    4. Using the Lasso tool
      4m 9s
    5. Selecting objects by attribute
      6m 48s
    6. Grouping objects
      3m 7s
    7. Using isolation mode
      4m 48s
    8. Resizing your artwork
      3m 55s
    9. Rotating objects
      2m 10s
    10. Distorting and transforming objects
      6m 26s
    11. Repeating transformations
      5m 6s
    12. Reflecting and skewing objects
      4m 54s
    13. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 38s
  6. 29m 27s
    1. RGB vs. CMYK
      1m 46s
    2. Adjusting Illustrator color settings
      5m 10s
    3. Process vs. global swatches
      5m 6s
    4. Creating spot colors
      3m 40s
    5. Using the swatch groups
      2m 33s
    6. Working with color libraries
      3m 17s
    7. Importing swatches
      4m 4s
    8. Using the Color Guide panel
      3m 51s
  7. 57m 36s
    1. Understanding fills and strokes
      4m 18s
    2. Working with fills
      4m 58s
    3. Working with strokes
      8m 46s
    4. Creating dashes and arrows
      8m 1s
    5. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 3s
    6. Using width profiles
      3m 31s
    7. Outlining strokes
      3m 51s
    8. Creating and editing gradients
      5m 45s
    9. Applying gradients to strokes
      3m 8s
    10. Applying and editing pattern fills
      4m 52s
    11. Creating your own pattern fill
      6m 23s
  8. 20m 20s
    1. Understanding paths
      2m 41s
    2. Understanding anchor points
      4m 20s
    3. Working with open and closed paths
      5m 28s
    4. Joining and averaging paths
      4m 9s
    5. Using the Scissors tool and the Knife tool
      3m 42s
  9. 37m 56s
    1. Understanding drawing modes
      4m 23s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 15s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      4m 11s
    4. Working with the Shape Builder tool
      6m 32s
    5. Working with the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      5m 26s
    6. Working with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools
      7m 8s
    7. Smoothing and erasing paths
      5m 1s
  10. 35m 53s
    1. Exploring the Pen tool
      2m 39s
    2. Drawing straight lines
      5m 12s
    3. Drawing simple curves
      5m 23s
    4. Understanding the many faces of the Pen tool
      6m 10s
    5. Converting corners and curves
      1m 46s
    6. Your keyboard is your friend
      2m 14s
    7. Tracing artwork with the Pen tool
      12m 29s
  11. 35m 33s
    1. Adjusting your type settings
      4m 10s
    2. Creating point and area text
      3m 36s
    3. Basic text editing
      2m 14s
    4. Creating threaded text
      4m 59s
    5. Using the type panels
      9m 48s
    6. Creating text on a path
      5m 11s
    7. Converting text into paths
      1m 43s
    8. Saving time with keyboard shortcuts
      3m 52s
  12. 27m 25s
    1. Exploring the Appearance panel
      4m 44s
    2. Explaining attribute stacking order
      1m 40s
    3. Applying multiple fills
      3m 1s
    4. Applying multiple strokes
      4m 20s
    5. Adjusting appearance with live effects
      4m 46s
    6. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      8m 54s
  13. 20m 44s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      4m 18s
    2. Creating and editing layers
      3m 27s
    3. Targeting objects in the Layers panel
      3m 3s
    4. Working with sublayers
      3m 0s
    5. Hiding, locking, and deleting layers
      4m 14s
    6. Using the Layers panel menu
      2m 42s
  14. 46m 0s
    1. Placing images into Illustrator
      2m 53s
    2. Working with the Links panel
      6m 5s
    3. Embedding images into Illustrator
      3m 12s
    4. Cropping images with a mask
      5m 8s
    5. Exploring the Image Trace panel
      12m 14s
    6. Tracing photographs
      8m 6s
    7. Tracing line art
      4m 33s
    8. Converting pixels to paths
      3m 49s
  15. 19m 21s
    1. What are symbols?
      2m 45s
    2. Using prebuilt symbols
      3m 3s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      4m 19s
    4. Creating new symbols
      3m 50s
    5. Breaking the symbol link
      3m 19s
    6. Redefining symbols
      2m 5s
  16. 12m 9s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      4m 29s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      3m 49s
    3. Applying artwork to the grid
      3m 51s
  17. 35m 7s
    1. Printing your artwork
      6m 16s
    2. Saving your artwork
      2m 2s
    3. Saving in legacy formats
      3m 0s
    4. Saving templates
      4m 18s
    5. Creating PDF files
      5m 23s
    6. Saving for the web
      4m 46s
    7. Creating high-res bitmap images
      3m 58s
    8. Using Illustrator files in Photoshop and InDesign
      5m 24s
  18. 56s
    1. Next steps
      56s

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Illustrator CS6 Essential Training
8h 48m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Adobe Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks, from illustration to app development. This course demonstrates core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow—for print, the web, or building assets that will find their way into other applications. Author Justin Seeley explains the elements that make up vector graphics (paths, strokes, and fills) while showing how to use each of the drawing tools, and demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths and organize them into groups and layers. The course also covers text editing, working with color, effects, and much more.

Topics include:
  • Understanding vector graphics
  • Creating and setting up files for print or web destinations
  • Selecting and transforming objects on the page
  • Creating spot colors
  • Applying fills, strokes, and gradients to artwork
  • Adjusting appearances and effects
  • Working with anchor points and paths
  • Drawing with the Pen tool
  • Creating text
  • Managing layers
  • Creating and using symbols
  • Printing, saving, and exporting artwork
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Justin Seeley

Working with the Shape Builder tool

Up until now, we have been relying on the Pathfinder feature to get our complex artwork created here inside of Illustrator. Now I am going to show you a way that's a little bit more visual, and a little bit more easy to use. It's called the Shape Builder tool, and it's a great way to create complex artwork without all the guesswork that's involved with the Pathfinder. You see, the thing that's a little bit confusing about the Pathfinder is that all those buttons aren't necessarily descriptive, and people get confused as to what they do. So people spend time clicking, seeing what it does, undoing, clicking, seeing what it does, undoing; it's very tedious.

But using the Shape Builder tool is a great way to visually create shapes, which probably appeals more to the designer anyway. I am going to zoom in on these circles in the bottom corner of the page, and when I zoom in on those, I am going to start using the Shape Builder to interact with them a little bit. In order to use the Shape Builder tool, you have to have the path selected that you want to affect, so I will select the two circles, and then I'm going to go over and grab the Shape Builder tool. You can grab that either in the Tools panel, or by hitting Shift+M on your keyboard. Once I have those selected, I can then mouse over them, and you'll see that it highlights different areas as I mouse over.

By default, the Shape Builder tool is in what we call Merge mode, meaning that it's going to merge the objects together that you drag over. So in this case, if I click and drag across these circles, and let go, it merges them into one single shape, like so. If I undo that, I can also utilize the Shape Builder tool to subtract objects, or trim objects out. In order to do this, you have to hold down the Option key on Mac, and the Alt key on PC. Then you click and drag across the items you want to subtract, and in this case, when I let go, it leaves me with this little half circle down here. Pretty cool! All right! Now let's move up to something a little bit more complex.

This piece of artwork here; I could use the Trim command, or any number of the Pathfinder commands to make it look like I want it to, but in this case, I want to visually be able to pick the pieces that I keep inside of this artwork. So in order to do that, I am going to utilize the Shape Builder tool. First of all, I have to make sure that these objects are selected. So I will select them with the Selection tool, and then I'll grab the Shape Builder tool again. In order to start removing objects from this, I have to come in, and hold down my Option or Alt key. Once I do that, I can click, and objects start to go away.

Then I can come in and hold down my Option key, and I can start removing other pieces as well, just like this. And I am just clicking on the objects I don't want to see anymore. If I find other objects that I don't want, like these, but they might be a little harder to click on, I can just hold down my Option or Alt key, and click and drag across them.

Even the tiniest of portions can be removed by utilizing the Shape Builder tool. However, you may find some times when there are some stray paths, like this one right here, that are causing you some trouble. If that's the case, I can zoom in on this, and I can find the troubled area, which is right here. I can just grab the Direct Selection tool, find that anchor point, make sure the anchor point is selected, and then I can delete it. Then I can zoom back out, and continue working with my Shape Builder. I will grab the Shape Builder again. Now that I have got everything removed, I can start unifying these into single shapes.

The first thing I have to do, of course, is make sure they are selected. So I'll temporarily switch to the Selection tool by holding down the Control key, and then I'll make a marquee selection around the objects that I'm working on. Once I get them selected, I'll make sure that I go back to the Shape Builder tool, I will just click and drag across here to unify those, click and drag here, here, here, and here. Now they are all single shapes that I can then move and manipulate individually, or as a group.

If I zoom out, you will see I have removed all of the different parts of the star that I didn't want, but these act like any other shape inside of Illustrator. Let's take a look at one more practical use for this. I am going to zoom in over here on these letters. These are actually grouped together, so the first thing I am going to do is ungroup them. I am going to right-click and just choose Ungroup. You could also use Shift+ Control+G on your keyboard. Then I am going to select the R. The R is the object that I want to edit, in this case.

When I move it over, you are going to notice that the R is still a regular R. But what I want to do is remove this portion of the R down here that was overlapped by the A, so then I can use that stylized R in different designs. So let me undo this, and move it back to where it's supposed to be. I am going to select it, and I am also going to select the A. I am going to grab the Shape Builder tool, and I am simply going to drag across the A. When I drag across the A, even though the A is one single shape, it's being overlapped by that R, so that triangle piece right there actually acts as a totally separate piece.

When I drag across the A, it indicates, well, you're basically wanting to subtract that little triangle piece, but I am also unifying the A at the same time. That means it's going to subtract it from the R, and leave the A alone. So let's let go of the mouse, and see what happens. When I do that, automatically the A changes to be a single shape, and the R becomes a single shape as well, minus that little tail. If I grab my Selection tool, I can go into Isolation mode, and move the R, and you can see that I have sliced off that end just where I needed it to be.

Now each and every time I use that R, it's going to fit perfectly right up against the A, just like it should. Let's Undo that. I will jump out of Isolation mode by going back to Layer 1, and select the A. Let's change that back to a similar color from where it was, and then I will completely exit Isolation mode by clicking the arrow here. Then I will hit Command+0 or Control+0 to zoom back out. So as you can see, I have dramatically altered all of the artwork on my page. I have changed the way the R is structured, I've removed the starburst, and left this cool leaf design here, and I have also cut out the remaining circle piece from the bottom.

All in all, the Shape Builder tool allows you to create some really complex artwork without a whole lot of fuss. Take some time to play with that, and see exactly how you can fit it into your workflow, and you'll be amazed at the cool stuff that you're able to create while you're using it.

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