Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Assigning colors with the Shape Builder, part of Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
In this movie we're going to take this one-eighth of the green design, and we're going to reflect it and rotate it and fuse the whole thing together in order to complete the shape. But before we do, I thought we would add an additional element here just to make things even more interesting, and that'll give me a chance to show you how to control colors when you're using a Shape Builder tool. So I'll save my progress as One green blob.ai, and I am going to press Ctrl+Y, or Command+Y on a Mac, to switch to the Outline mode. You can also choose Outline from the View menu if you prefer.
And then I'm going to switch to the White Arrow tool, and I am going to click on this anchor point right there, and I am just going to drag it in a little bit. And I am going to move this Handle outward, and this is one of those control handles that I demonstrated way back in the Line Art chapter. Now let's say I want to add something that's not part of the original image, but I want to add a little sort of hook coming out from this location. So I'll go ahead and click off the path outline to deselect it, and then I'll switch to the Blob tool, which I can get by pressing B key now.
And I am just going press the D key in order to establish the default colors. So D for Default, will switch you to a white fill and a black stroke, and the Blob tool will go for that stroke, by the way, it'll create something black as we'll see. So I'm just going to pain sort of a slim line like this coming out from this location, and I'm taking a couple of steps here and painting back and forth. This actually looks pretty darn good. I managed to create something right away that I like, but if I wanted to cut some more out of it, I could switch to the Eraser tool by pressing my shortcut of the E key.
And then I can click-right about there to sculpt a little more out with this very large brush. Now let's say I want to join these guys together. I will switch back to the Black Arrow tool, and I'll press Ctrl+Y, or Command+Y on a Mac, in order to switch to the Preview mode. And you can see that we've got two different color schemes going on. I have got one shape with the black fill no stroke. I have got another shape that's got a black stroke and a green fill. What happens when I join the two together using Shape Builder tool? I'll go ahead and grab that tool, and then I'll drag down, like so, and the entire thing ends up turning black, which is of course a big disappointment.
Here's what's happening. The Shape Builder tool by default is always going after the Active swatch, and let me show you how to address that. I'll press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on a Mac, to undo that change. One thing you can do is double-click on Shape Builder icon here in the toolbox, and then you can see that it's picking colors from the Color Swatches. So you can turn on the Cursor Swatch Preview if you like, that way you can control what swatch you are working with, then click OK. And now I see those tiny little swatches above the cursor. If I press the Right arrow key, I can eventually advance to green.
And now, if I drag let's say I start at the bottom here and drag up, then I'll keep the green fill, but I lost the stroke. Well, there's a better way to work, so I'll go ahead press Ctrl+Z Command+Z on a Mac, in order to undo that change. Again, double-click on the Shape Builder icon here in the toolbox, and rather than picking colors from the Color Swatches--which is also a bad idea if you don't really have all your colors set up with swatches-- then go ahead and lift the color from the Artwork, and then click OK, and now notice, if I drag from this black shape in, I will change everything the black with no stroke.
However, obviously, that's not what I want. So I'll press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. If you drag from the green shape with a black stroke out, like so, you'll keep the green fill on the black stroke, so it's all determined by where you start the drag. Now let's do the Reflecting and Rotating. I'll go ahead and zoom out a bit here, and I am going to press Ctrl+Y, or Command+Y on a Mac, to switch back to the Outline mode. And I am going to click and hold on Rotate tool and select the Reflect tool instead, which has a keyboard shortcut of O, which is of course, the most symmetrical letter there is.
And then I'll Alt-click or Option-click right there at the intersection of these tiles. In order to display the Reflect dialog box, I want a Vertical axis so I will go ahead and select Vertical that Reflects the shape Horizontally, and I'll click Copy. Now we want to grab both of the shapes, so I am going to press the Ctrl key or the Command key on a Mac, and partially marquee through them, like so. And that will go ahead and select both of them by virtue of the fact that the Control or Command key goes ahead and gets you the last chose Arrow tool on the fly.
And when I release the Command or Ctrl key, I'm back to the Reflect tool. So once again, Alt-click or Option-click at the very same location, and this time I'll select a Horizontal axis--so I flip the shapes upward-- and I click the Copy button in order to create a total of four copies of the shape now. Then finally, I'll press the Ctrl key or the Command key on a match in order to temporarily access that Black Arrow tool. I'll marquee through the shapes again just partially, in order to select all of them.
And this time I need the Rotate tool, so I'll click and hold on the Reflect tool icon, switch back to the Rotate tool, or I could have pressed the R key. Notice that that Reference Point target appears exactly in the center of the shapes, which is exactly what we want. So this time all I have to do is double-click on the Rotate tool icon in the toolbox, set the angle to 90 degrees, and then click on the Copy button, and we've created all the shapes we need. One more thing to do here, I'll go and press Ctrl+Y, or Command+Y on a Mac, to switch back to the Preview mode.
And as opposed to marqueeing with a Black Arrow tool, which actually I don't need to do, all I have to do is go up to the select Similar Objects icon in the Control panel and click on it, and that will select all of the shapes. And now, we will fuse them together by grabbing the Shape Builder tool, and then I want you to press the Shift key and go ahead and marquee through the central portion of the shapes, like so, and that should give you one unified shape. Let's go ahead and make sure that's the case by twirling up in this Drawing layer, and sure enough I have this one and only one path.
And I am going to go ahead and name it green, because after all it is the green shape. Now I will turn on the cross so that we can see it as well, and I will back out--perhaps not that far--and I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Command+Shift+A on the Mac, in order to deselect the Illustration. It occurs to me that I made a mistake, this cross should not have a three-point stroke, I want to change it to a two-point stroke. So I'll Ctrl-click on it, or Command-click on it in order to select it, and then notice I have completely the wrong information up here in the Control panel.
It's telling me I have a green fill and the stroke is already 2 points. I'm showing you this deliberately, because that's another problem with the Shape Builder tool, it doesn't show you what's been applied to the selected shape, it shows you what the tool will apply to that shape. If you want to change the fill or stroke, you have to switch back to some other tools, such as the Black Arrow tool, then you'll see a blue fill and a three-point stroke. Let's go ahead and reduce the Line Weight to two points and then click off the shape to deselect it. And we have our most complicated shapes, folks. The big green wacky shape there, the big blue cross.
In the next movie, we will begin work on the flower ornament.
This installment covers subjects such as working with shapes and closed paths, including painting, grouping, and coloring, and placing and adjusting type. Deke shows you how to select fonts, create hanging indents, and tweak the kerning and leading of your text. Additional chapters cover drawing and editing paths (and their points) and moving and transforming objects in your artwork.
- Rotating and duplicating objects
- Grouping and stacking
- Erasing and painting selected paths
- Using the Shape Builder tool
- Reflecting across an angled axis
- Simulating beveled edges
- Creating a network of interlocking paths
- Placing and flowing text
- Creating page margins
- Adjusting type size
- Creating and applying paragraph styles
- Using the Glyphs panel
- Inserting and removing anchor points
Skill Level Beginner
Q: I'm following along with Chapter 5 movie, "Creating compound paths." Why can't I get the second shape to compound properly? The Object menu doesn't seem to work.
A: This problem is due to a bug in Illustrator that has developed since this movie was recorded. To work around it, click off the Object menu (or press the Escape key); take another action, such as opening and closing the drawing layer; and revisit the Object menu.