Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating with the shape builder tool, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
(whooshing) - [Teacher] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. When I shape build in Illustrator, I almost always use the pathfinder exclusively to create my vector artwork. That said, there's a few other tools that can assist in shape building efforts. I want to cover one of them in this movie and that is the shape builder tool. So let me show you how you can use it to build your vector motifs.
Now the first thing you have to keep in mind when using the shape building tool is you need shapes. Meaning you need to figure out all the ingredients, all the vector elements that are going to make up your final design before you start building. That's the best way to approach it. Now what a lot of people do, in this case we're going to make a crown, but what a lot of people do which I don't really like is they'll select everything. Then they'll go to the shape building tool. Then if you go over areas that you don't need, then you go minus like this.
They'll remove stuff they don't want such as this which is okay. It's what the tool is mean to do. But what they end up with when it's all said and done is, you know, this artwork here. I'm just going to keep buildin' this like this. Is they'll end up with artwork like this. But because they selected everything at once, notice all these extra anchor points you get on it. I don't like that.
So I'm going to show you a different way to handle this where it's going to create the art very cleanly. So let's go ahead and undo this and get back to our original state. I believe that's it. Like this. What I'd like to do is only focus on those areas you're building at any one time and this, the base of the crown. So we'll select the shape building holding option down to get the minus. No option, it defaults to the plus, which is add. Minus is subtract.
So we're going to subtract these shapes, subtract these shapes, and we get a nice clean shape. Then we can select these shapes and then with the plus we can just pull down across all this, like this, and you can see how you get a nice clean image, no extra anchor points other than the essential shapes to build with. Then we can go in and remove these. We can select this one, and remove these shapes like this, and you get your vector artwork.
In this case we're going to go ahead and colorize this a gold color. So that's how you can use the shape building tool. So focus only on those areas you need to in order to build artwork that's clean. I really don't like messy artwork. So it's just my preference. Maybe you don't mind that, that's fine. Another way you can build this and this is the way I normally do it is I'll just use shape building methods using the pathfinder. So in essence it's creating the exact same shape, it's just doin' it a little differently.
So in this case I'd select these two ovals, unite 'em and run compound path which I have set up to a keyboard shortcut at F7 which changes it to a compound. Select the background, minus front and out of that to select that, select all four of these shapes. Unite those into one coherent shape. Select this bottom one, this top one, unite that. Compound, make sure it's in front. Then minus out the shape to get to the same exact artwork that we did with the shape building tool and I can actually do it faster than the shape building tool.
When you have more complex art, you have to zoom in to make sure you're dragging over the right area with the shape building tool. So I don't use it a whole lot for this kind of building. I still gravitate towards the pathfinder. Now once you have this, you can see this one, if I go to the Appearance, as a group. So I'll hit F7 to turn into a compound. If we go over here and select it, it doesn't even group 'em. So you would have to turn this into a compound in which case you'd go to Object, Compound, Make. Now it's a compound shape.
We can drag this up here, drag this up here. On the shape building, this is the benefit of it with the shape building tool is you can just minus to get the shading here. On this right side you'd have to make a clone of this shape, Command + C, Command + F, bring to front. Then select the shading, intersect it, and then you just make sure the coloring is the same. So you can get the same results but there's payoffs and benefits on both. So it all comes down to your personal preference.
I just happen to prefer the pathfinder. So I start thinkin' well what would be a preferred methodology or way to build that the shape building tool would be ideal for even more so than the pathfinder? That's what we're going to create now. So here's a thumbnail sketch of an idea I came up with. Positive-negative, kind of Aztec-y, geometric shapes. I'm goin' ooh, this is going to be fun. I love this kind of style and this is ideal for this. So I start buildin' out all my base shapes.
It can get really confusing the more shapes you build so I like to itemize it and organize it into categories that I'm going to create. So in this case I'm going to focus on only this at this point. Now I don't like to shape build with the shape building tool with just stroke shapes. So I like to select everything, go to Graphic Styles, and I give everything a nice fill. This is going to make the discernment of what we're doing as we're doing it easier to understand.
So we're going to go to the shape building tool now, and I'm just going to drag through all these, and go minus, holding the Option key down to get rid of it. Hold this down to get rid of it. Then I'll select my other shapes and holding the plus key down, I'll just drag those to select everything. Drag these to select everything. Then I can select all of these shapes like this and I can even select these shapes like this. Then with the pathfinder, I can go, holding Option key down, I want this negative, this negative, I want this negative.
We'll make this negative, this negative. We'll remove this then we'll go to this side and we're going to match the same aesthetic choices as we did before. You can see how fast this goes. Now this shape right here, we want to take these shapes for the eyes. So we'll select all of those. Then with the pathfinder, minus, minus, minus, minus. So you can see how fast it goes with the shape building tool. Now if I try to do that with the pathfinder, it would take a whole lot longer.
So this is a methodology that is wholly more appropriate to use the shape building tool. It's easier and it goes faster. Now that said, there's features in Illustrator that are there that I never use such as the round fillet tool. I don't like it, it gets in the way of vector building. You accidentally activate it at times when you're trying to select a corner anchor point for example. So what I use instead is Astute Graphics' Dynamic Corners Tool and that's what's shown here. I like it because I can just select a path and just on the fly pull it out easy.
Once I get somethin' I like, I can just immediately apply that same one by just clicking another corner anchor point. It just will assume that you want to apply the exact same round to all those others. You can see how fast that goes. You can get the same look with the fillet tool in Illustrator but it just won't go as fast. Once again, I have it turned off so you cannot see those controls show up as you're building because in my opinion it gets in the way. So we're going to go ahead, and turn this layer off, and focus on the next aspect of this.
This is where I'll use a combination of both the shape building tool and the pathfinder tool. So that's where I'll select shapes like this and just go minus front really quickly. Select shapes like this, and go unite. Select these two shapes and unite these together. Hit F7 to make a compound path. Select the bottom shape again. Minus front, select this shape, and on this shape I'm just going to simply go intersect.
Then on this circle shape, making sure it's on top, I'm going to punch this through by minus fronting this out. Then for the teeth we'll just go ahead and minus front that out. We'll go ahead and select these, fill it with the same fill as we did before, and you can see that using a combination of both methods are going to facilitate building. Now when I'm creating like this, I'll go back in on this one, use the shape building tool, and minus that out.
You can see how quickly you can build a design like this and it's a lot of fun. I love this style. So we're going to go ahead and color our motif now. So we'll turn off those layers. Here's all of our artwork and none of these, with the exception of this inner shape, this shape if we go to Appearances, is a compound. But everything else is just paths. So what we're going to do is we're going to Command + A to select everything and now we're going to go ahead and fill it.
Let's see, we'll fill it black here, and get rid of the stroke. I'm going to make this a compound. Once again you go to Object, pull down to Compound Path and Make. I can hit F7 key but we'll do that. So now that's a compound. Now what we're going to do is select this background. I just want to colorize it like that. I think that looks pretty good. Now we're going to keep workin' on this and kind of exploring, I think maybe on this one, let's see.
I'm going to try colorizing it red. Oop, that's the outline. Let's do the fill. Ooh, I like that, that looks good. Now one thing I want to do is adding a texture to this. So I have this vector wood texture a friend of mine, Paul Howalt, shared with me years ago. So I'm going to copy this. I'll go Command + C to copy it. We'll turn this layer off and then I'm going to go Command + V, paste behind here. Obviously I don't want it to be this color.
So I'm going to select this color here and go to Blend Mode. We'll go to Multiply and then I want it to be somewhat faint so we'll go 15. It just adds that nice aesthetic into the background. I think on this one I'm going to do somethin' else. I'm going to go here. I'm going to go Effect and let's go Inner Glow. Bring this over just so you can see what I'm doin'. We'll go Multiply.
We'll go 85. Make sure we pick the right color. I want it to be a dark, dark red. So we'll pick this. We'll go OK and Preview. You can see the preview, it's not big enough. Maybe twice as big, let's try that. Ooh, that looks good. So we'll go okay. So you can see the aesthetic that's adding. Another thing I think would look cool is we're going to go ahead and make a copy of this, turn this layer off temporarily, and Command + F to paste in front.
I want to select this texture. Actually we can get rid of the inner glow. We don't need that on this so we'll get rid of that. I'm going to select this texture which is the wood texture. Notice it's a compound path. We're going to select that with our graphic and under Pathfinder, we're going to go to intersect. You can see what I created is just a copy of our pattern that's only going to run over those areas of our motif.
So we'll turn our motif back on. We're going to colorize this a dark red and then we're going to multiply it. So we'll go to Transparency, Multiply, and we'll go 30%. That looks really cool. So that's how you can have fun with this graphic. I like the inner glow on this so much I decided to do some more exploration. So there's a lot of different ways you can handle this.
So you can see how I've handled this inner glow style on all these different backgrounds. Some of these colors work really well together. Light blue blending into a dark blue. Kind of this muted mossy green color blending into a darker hue of the same color. This yellow into the orange and on this one I have like a nice orangey color blending into black. But when you do a blend like this, any kind of blend whether it's an inner glow or gradient blend, and you go from a saturated color like this to black, you're going to get this grey effect because it doesn't interpret it very well.
So the way around this. If I click on this you can see right now I have this color selected. So let's go into this. Right now it's just 100% black. There is no specialness to it. If I select the background once again, it's black again. What we're going to do is we're going to select this and maybe if we make it a process black. So let's do that and well it improved it a little bit. The process black looks a little better. If we click into this you can see that we've added some of the elements for process black.
But it's still not that great. So what we're going to do is we're going to make this a warm process black. We're going to take away the blue. So we'll go to zero. We're going to add a lot of warmth to this. We're going to add 85 of magenta in this. We'll keep 20 in the yellow and 100% black. Watch how it improves this gradient, how these colors blend together. We'll go Preview and boom. That's exactly what we want. We want to match the background colors so we'll select that too and we'll color that the same color as well.
So that's how you can get around that problem. Some of you might've run into it but that's how you deal with that, specifically on black. Black is the hardest one to work with. A lot of other colors are easier to blend together. But when it comes to black, that one can be tricky and that's how I deal with it. But I love this positive-negative effect. I think it works great for branding type environments. There's just something about simple geometry, forms, and positive-negative motifs that are very satisfying to me graphically.
The visuals you can pull off using these methods are just impactful when done well. The shape builder tool, combined with the pathfinder make it easier than ever to compose these type of designs. So experiment with the shape building tool and start to integrate it into your workflow. Thank you for watching DVG Lab and until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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