Join Angie Taylor for an in-depth discussion in this video Combining shapes with the Pathfinder, part of Up and Running with Illustrator CS6.
In this movie, we're going to have a look at how to create more complex shapes from simple, basic shapes that you've created using the Shape tools in Illustrator. Now, we're in cogstart.ai. And in here, you can see some primitive shapes that I've drawn using the Shape tools. So, I've used mainly the Ellipse tool and the Star tool to create these shapes. The Star tool is really great because you can select the Star tool, click and start to drag to draw it. And there's lots more definer keys you can hold down as you're drawing. Let me just switch off my Transparency Grid.
I'm going to say Undo Star and just go to View > Hide Transparency Grid, and that makes it easier for you to see what's happening. So I select my Star tool, and as I draw, you'll notice it will rotate. If I use the up and down arrow keys as I draw, I can add points to my star. And that's basically how I've created the star. You can also adjust the pointiness of the star or how far the points emanate from the center of the star by holding down the Cmd key as you drag.
So, up and down arrow keys on the keyboard determine how many points. And holding down the Cmd or Ctrl key on Windows allows you to determine what I call the pointiness of the star. So, we have a star and you'll notice in my Layers panel, I have one single layer with the individual objects within. So I have my star path, on top of that I have a circle, and on top of that a smaller circle, and then another one. And I've color coded them so you can see clearly which one's which. So, what I want to do is create a cog.
And a cog can be quite difficult to draw free hand. So instead, what we're going to do is we're going to use the star. And what I want to do is I want to cut the edges of the star, so cut the points off. So what I've done is I've drawn a circle where I want those points to be cut off, so I want them to be cut off around about here. So, if you imagine that is a dotted line that I'm going to cut around with a pair of scissors, it's a good way to think about it. And then, I'm going to open a panel called the Pathfinder. So, if you go up to the Window menu and go to Pathfinder, the Pathfinder panel should open, and you can place that wherever you want it.
It's a good idea to keep it open for this exercise. Now, there's various different options. You can unite paths, you can remove the front shape from the back shape, you can intersect them. So, let's take a look at what some of these do. Let's click on Minus Front. And if I do Minus Front, it's removing the circle from the stars. So, we're only left with the points, so we don't really want to do that. So let's undo that, and let's click on Intersect, and you'll see that intersect gives us what we want.
If I turn off these two layers by clicking on their little eyeballs, you'll see what's happened. It's created a shape that's removed the points from the star forming. Now, what I want to do now is I want to combine it with this shape. So, we're actually removing these parts of the star, these little points down here. So, it will start to look more like a cog shape as the edge moves around like this. So, the way that we do it is by selecting the shape. And then holding down Shift, and clicking on the Target button for the shape above it, and then move over here. And if we think about what we want to do, we actually want to combine the shapes together.
So, we're going to use this one, the Unite option, and I click on that. And you'll see that suddenly I have the shape a cogwheel. Now, we've got one other object in here. So, I'm going to switch that on, and you can see that that's a circle that I'm going to use to punch a hole in the shape to create the center hole for my cog. So I hold down Shift, select the shape above. And this time, I'm going to remove the circle from the red shape behind, and to do that I'm going to use this one. Minus Front which will remove the front most shape from the back most shape. And you'll see that that punches a hole in my cog for me. So instead of drawing shapes like cogs by hand, which are quite difficult to draw. You can combine more primitive shapes to create the shapes that you want. Now, one more tip for you.
If you want to retain the individual shapes like the stars and the circles, in case you want to make changes. What you can do is if we go back to File menu, and revert this back to the beginning. So, I'm just going to click on Revert, and we're back to our starting point. When you select shapes and use the buttons over here, if you hold down the Alt key, or the Option key on Mac as you use these. Basically, what it's going to do, if I just switch on my Transparency Grid again, is it's going to still remove those areas in terms of your drawing.
But it's going to leave them available here, if you want to make changes. So, I'll show you why that's important. Let's open up the layer and let's continue doing that. So that's Shift-click these two, and this time we use Unite. So, I'm holding down Alt or Option and clicking Unite. And again, it's maintained the shapes. We'll do it again, we'll hold down Shift-click the path above, and hold down Option, this time when we click on Minus front.
Now, you'll notice it looks very different to how it looked before, and the nice thing about this is, it's maintained all of these points. So, if I wanted to do something like go in here and just adjust that shape, it means it's much easier for me to do so. So, I can start to create these more wacky kind of clog shapes. Okay, so I think that's a little bit more flexible. Holding down Option or Alt will allow you to correct compound shape so it can remain editable. Now, if you have a look at cog end, I have two examples. If we use the Selection tool and select them, you'll notice one has all of the vectors available.
We hide our Transparency Grid so you can see that a bit better. And the other was done without holding down the Option key or Alt key. So, that's the difference between the two of them. So, little bit about combining shapes together using the Pathfinder panel.
- Setting up a new document
- Navigating within the workspace
- Understanding layers and objects
- Creating images from shapes
- Applying color
- Using the Appearance panel
- Creating shapes with the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
- Working with the Pen and Pencil tools
- Tweaking, exporting, and saving artwork