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The shape-building method

From: Drawing Vector Graphics

Video: The shape-building method

The Shape-building method is a simple and fast way to build precise vector shapes using nothing more than the Rectangle tool, Ellipse tool, and the Pathfinder palette. Instead of manually building our vectors one anchor point at a time, we'll let the shape tools do the vector construction for us. Just like the Point-by-point method, we'll still use a tight sketch to build our vector art upon. We're going to continue working on building the vector art for this skull design.

The shape-building method

The Shape-building method is a simple and fast way to build precise vector shapes using nothing more than the Rectangle tool, Ellipse tool, and the Pathfinder palette. Instead of manually building our vectors one anchor point at a time, we'll let the shape tools do the vector construction for us. Just like the Point-by-point method, we'll still use a tight sketch to build our vector art upon. We're going to continue working on building the vector art for this skull design.

And as you work on any type of design, you will use the Point-by-point method to create shapes such as we did here. But, also be looking in your design, and look for areas of your design that can be made using shape tools, and I'll demonstrate that next for you. How to use shape-building in a design like this? So, the back part of the cranium, the top of the skull and the back of the skull, it doesn't make any sense to try to create that one point at a time.

You'd be spending too much time trying to get those curves looking great. When it's so close to being a circular shape already, we are going to take the Ellipse tool, you can see over here, we're going to select that. And we are going to use that to create this cranial shape. So, we'll first lay down the initial shape and then we'll just adjust it to match our underlying drawing. You can see that here. Now, we're going to clone it using one of the F keys we set up, the F3 key.

Then, once we have that cloned, we can just scale it. Then we'll adjust that once again to align to our drawing. Now, it's not a perfect alignment to our drawing. We are going to still move things. But, we are already like 90% there. We just have to select our anchor point, and slide this over a little bit, adjust the Bezier curve handle in order to align it to exactly the position we want, so it matches our sketch. So, these are just minor things.

And you can see, this is going a lot faster than if we try to build this one anchor point at a time. It's just going to look better since the Shape tool has created all of these curves for us. We're almost there. We're just going to adjust this one a little bit, and I think that work. So, with that selected, we are going to select this top elliptical shape with the background elliptical shape. This is where shape-building comes in.

We are going to now go to the Pathfinder palette, and we're going to punch this out. So essentially, we are creating a really thin donut now. So now, that's the shape we have, and we are going to lop off what we don't need. So, this is where a throwaway shape comes in. We're not going to keep this shape, we are just making it in order to edit the new shape we did here, go back to the Pathfinder palette, lop this off. And that's how you can build your artwork using shape-building.

We'll use this over and over again through the design, this top part of the cranium, this little sliver of a moon type shape. I'll build that with shape-building. But the next one I want to show you, just because it's a nice little detail area of the design is in the teeth here. We'll do the same thing using nothing but the Ellipse tool over here. We'll create this really quickly. So, we just create a circular shape.

So, it's going to take four different circular shapes, and we're just roughly aligning them to our underlying drawing as you can see here. So, this is essentially all the shapes we'll need to build this art now. So, what it's going to take is we'll take this shape, we'll make sure it's all the way on top and we've set up our F5 key to bring to front, so we know that's on top of everything.

We'll select this shape, and we'll punch that out. Now, we'll create the other shape we need. So, we'll select this elliptical shape, the F5 key to bring to front, select the shapes other shape, and punch that out. Now, with this in shape in place, we'll select the other shape. And once again, go back to the Pathfinder, punch it out, ungroup, throwaway little sliver, we don't need. You can see that we have the in shape we need for this specific art.

That's how you can use, look at any kind of design you're creating, in this case, this skull design. And you can use shape-building in order to speed up your build times and avoid having to use Point-by-point. You'll actually use both methods in almost everything you create. And to kind of demonstrate this, I'll show you how this one ended up working out. So, this shows all the independent separate shapes that made up this design. So, I call this segmented building.

It's being more manageable with how you build your art by creating it out of a bunch of independent shapes. Once you have these, it's easy to then use the Pathfinder palette to create your black-and-white base art. So, you can see that here. And it's at this stage, I want shading in this to make it more dramatic. And it doesn't do any good to try to guess what that might look like on screen, just kind of roughly trying to figure it out. It's better if I can print this out.

And once I print it out, I draw on my print out and you can see my drawing, I've scanned it back in and I use this now to build, once again like I did the base art, I am going to build out my shading. And then once that's all done, I have my final skull art. Now, this file is in the Exercise Files, and you can click through all these layers, and deconstruct how I put it together to create this specific skull edit.

The more you use the Shape-building method, the more you'll find use for it within your vector projects. Keep in mind that the majority of vector artwork you build will utilize both the Shape-building method and the Point-by-point method. The combination of these two methods can greatly improve your craftsmanship and speed up the build times as well.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Drawing Vector Graphics
Drawing Vector Graphics

41 video lessons · 48023 viewers

Von Glitschka
Author

 
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  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 26s
    2. Exercise files
      1m 5s
  2. 18m 36s
    1. What is illustrative design?
      54s
    2. A systematic creative process
      1m 26s
    3. Exploring analog tools
      2m 39s
    4. Exploring digital tools
      13m 37s
  3. 18m 31s
    1. Creative preparation
      1m 13s
    2. The creative brief
      2m 25s
    3. Creative thinking methods
      1m 2s
    4. Word associations
      1m 55s
    5. Mind mapping
      1m 55s
    6. Before. During. After.
      1m 26s
    7. I think, therefore I design
      2m 46s
    8. Selecting the appropriate style
      2m 57s
    9. Using reference material
      2m 52s
  4. 8m 50s
    1. Solid creative foundation
      53s
    2. Anyone can draw
      2m 17s
    3. Thumbnail sketching
      2m 34s
    4. Refining your drawn ideas
      3m 6s
  5. 44m 40s
    1. Workflow enhancements
      57s
    2. Keyboard shortcuts and recording actions
      2m 25s
    3. Keyboard shortcuts and recording actions: Demo
      13m 15s
    4. Using custom scripts
      6m 44s
    5. Graphic styles and custom color palettes
      8m 19s
    6. Using layers
      7m 15s
    7. Toggling Smart Guides on and off
      5m 45s
  6. 38m 59s
    1. Building your vector shapes
      1m 0s
    2. A roadmap for vector building
      4m 40s
    3. The clockwork method
      7m 4s
    4. Prime point placement
      3m 40s
    5. The point-by-point method
      8m 22s
    6. The shape-building method
      6m 46s
    7. Symmetry is your friend
      6m 1s
    8. Art directing yourself
      1m 26s
  7. 19m 54s
    1. Presenting your designs
      1m 4s
    2. Presentation formats
      5m 50s
    3. Revealing your designs
      1m 36s
    4. Writing a design rationale
      1m 56s
    5. Responding to client revisions
      3m 46s
    6. Renewable creative energy
      5m 42s
  8. 49s
    1. Next steps
      49s

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