Don't FEAR Adobe Illustrator! v1: The Shape Builder Tool | Tony Ross | Skillshare

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Don't FEAR Adobe Illustrator! v1: The Shape Builder Tool

teacher avatar Tony Ross, tonyteach: keeping training simple…

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. 00 welcome 720p

    • 2. Create the Yin & Yang symbol

    • 3. How to make a Chain Link

    • 4. How to Create Linked Letters

    • 5. Create a Set of Keys

    • 6. Your project 720p

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About This Class


Hey, this is Tony Ross from, and welcome to Don’t Fear Illustrator
A series of beginner-friendly exercises, tips, and tricks to get you more comfortable working with Adobe Illustrator.
In this first course, we are concentrating on the Shape Builder tool. We show you how you can create complex shapes and designs, all by using the basic shape tools and the Shape Builder tool.

If you are new to Illustrator, no worries, we walk you through each simple step. So, Don't FEAR Illustrator… take this course, and see how easy it can be :)

Meet Your Teacher

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Tony Ross

tonyteach: keeping training simple…


My name is Tony Ross, owner and creator of and I am an animator and software trainer, and I also like to dabble in music, and creative writing.

My specialty in software training, is taking complex applications, and breaking them down into simple steps that even a beginner, or novice can follow. With over a decade of experience, my tutorials have been featured on Creative Cow,, Toon Boom, GoMediazine, Infinite Skills, O'Reilly, and I am also a author.

In teaching, and in life, I try and follow this mantra...

Keep it simple, make it perfect; If you don't have the time to make it perfect, rethink the idea. - Tony Ross

See full profile

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1. 00 welcome 720p: Hey, this is Tony Ross from Tony, teach dot com and welcome to Don't Fear Illustrator, a series of beginner friendly exercises, tips and tricks to get you more comfortable working with Adobe Illustrator for the first course in our Siri's. I wanted to do something a little different than here is a pen tool, or here is the rectangle or Ellipse school. I'm actually going to show you how to use an awesome tool in Illustrator the Shape Builder Tool, and with this I will be incorporating from the other tools. But I'll show you how to create several different shapes and get you comfortable making some pretty complex objects and designs just using basic shapes in the shape builder tool. So, are you ready? Let's get started. 2. Create the Yin & Yang symbol: the first shape we're going to create is the yin and yang symbol gin and young yin and yang tomato tomato. Anyway, we're going to be creating this symbol. And of course, we're gonna be doing this with the shape builder. In addition to this will be using the selection tool Ellipse tool. We'll also be using the scale tool and last but not least, will be adjusting our fill and stroke colors. So let's couldn't get started. First thing I do is I'll create a new document. I'll simply do command in. That's controlling on PC Anna, Go ahead. Named this yen yang. Okay, now I'm going to go ahead and use the print profile. I'm just going to do a letter size and this is probably one of the default settings. You can also just the orientation. If you want this to be more of a portrait versus on a side which is landscape for now, I just go ahead and click. OK, now, the first thing I wanted here is going to go to you. My ellipse tool, which the main till we're gonna be using here so flat could come down to a lips. And if you notice if I move right to the center about to the center here, I can see that it's actually highlighting and tell me I'm using the center now. What? This is it's called smart guides. If you don't see those simply good of you and come on down and makes you select smart guides. All right, now, right, click and drag. This is going to make a nice little lips here. If I want a perfect circle, I hold down my shift key. Okay, Now, here's the other thing. If I want to have that circle come out directly from the center, I'll hold down my option key or my fault, some holding on my shift and my option key Altan PC. It's gonna click and drag out a circle. I'll let go of the mouse and let go the keyboard. Now the next thing I want to do is go ahead and select my scale tool and by default, you see this little guy popping up right in the center here? What I want to do is come down right to the base anchor like each one of these little points is referred to as an anchor. So right down to the bottom when I'm gonna hold down my option key autumn PC and I'll simply double quick. Now, this is where we get our scale options. And what I want to do is make this 50%. And instead of simply clicking okay, I want to click. Copy. So a quick copy once and we have our circle sitting directly at the base here, and it's half the size. Now, we're going to repeat this. So come up here and I'm gonna do a little cheap here. I'm gonna hold down my command key. Now we control on PC and select the larger circle again. And what I want to do here is use a skeletal again so hot on my option key and click on the top anchor. And absolutely this at 50% and click on coffee. All right, So you now have three different circles now to create the eyes for the yin and yang. We're going to do the same thing, but we're going to use our smaller circles. Look up here to the center at this half circle. Although my option key autumn PC click once and instead of 50% I want to make this 25 because I want to make this 25% of the smaller circle now and I'll click. Copy. Okay, I'm gonna hold on my command key. Select the bottom circle and we're still in our scale. Tool. Hold down my option key again. Click on the center of the bottom circle and use the same settings. 25% and copy. Okay, now what you want to dio? I'm gonna go ahead and grab my select tool, click and drag to select everything. Now I want to de select this. I can simply click anywhere here on the page. That's not one of the objects and that d selects everything. Another shortcut to go ahead and select everything on the page, though, is simply doing command A Let's control a on PC. Now we're going to go to are shaped builders hole. So click the shape builder. And if you know what if I just move my cursor over these areas, it's starting to highlight them. So I only do here on the top is how click holding down my mouth and just drag that second part of the circle. Let go of the mouth and I do the same thing here and doesn't matter where you start. I can click and drag here and then select second part here. So now we have our shapes, but we still don't have the color set up. So what ideas got us my selection tool. When you click wants to de select everything and I'll click on 1/2 of the yin and yang symbol. And for the fill, simply click here like double clicking and I can change the color seconds. Click and drag down here. Bring that to black click. Ok, all right. Now I'm going to click the eye of the top piece here and what I do double quick and also said that two black. Now, this is great, but we've created this and they're also separate pieces like each one of the uses individual. What I want to do now is select all of these and make them a group. So simply do command a control a on PC and then do command G to group this. All right, so now if I d select everything, I'm just gonna click once quick on this. I now have this all together as a group now at any time. If I wanted Teoh adjust any of the colors here, I can simply double click on this and it takes me inside the group, and I have access to all the individual pieces again. So that is our first shape that we've built with the shape builder. And again, to do this, we use our selection tool. We definitely use the Ellipse toll, and we use the scale tool and are filling stroke as well as we made sure we had on smart guys. So congratulations, you've built something that's kind of complex, but it's pretty easy to dio. If you use in the shape builder, we'll show you a few more examples just so you can get comfortable. 3. How to make a Chain Link: In our first example, we created the yin and yang symbol, and the next thing we want to do with the shape builder is I'm going to show you how to create interlocking pieces. And what could be better to do that with then a simple chain link? I want to make a new document command and control in on PC, and for this one, I'm going to keep the orientation at landscape. Go ahead and click OK, and for this example, we're going to use the selection tool. We're also going to be using the rounded rectangle tool, and we're going to definitely be using the stroke and fill as well as we're going to be converting our lines to Phil's. Right? So the first thing I'm gonna do it's gonna go to my rounded rectangle tool. And the cool thing about this is if you actually start using your left and right eras, it's pretty drastic on it being rounded or not. But if you want more control over that, I'm using my up and down errors, and it can show me exactly how much were rounded corner I want Now I'm doing this while holding down the mouse. So I holding that amounts, I can click and drag this until I get the right shape that I want. And that kind of looks like the chain link that I want. So they didn't let go, And I want to make sure have I fill that is actually said to zero so simple White film gonna click none. And then I'll click on the stroke here and I want to adjust the size of the stroke. Right now it's in about one point and one. Change that to 25. Okay, that's a little bit thin, actually. Let's make that a little heavier. Let's try 40. Okay, 40 Looks pretty good. And now what I want to dio is I'll go up to object, come down to path and click Outline struck. Now, basically, what this means is there is no longer a thin line here. This all a fill instead of a stroke. If you notice there's no stroke, it's only a fill color. Okay, Now, to show what we're doing, we're going to want to change this. So it has a black stroke and probably a white Phil, or at least no filth right now. So to do that really easily. I'm gonna click on swap. So now, instead of a sinner stroke, we actually have a stroke on the outside and the inner part of our chain link. Okay, The next thing we do is go to you my selection tool, and I want to click and drag out a copy home. When you do that, simply hold on my option key in click and drag. And if you notice the cursor has thes two little arrows. Now, now, in order for this to actually perfectly line up, I'm gonna hold down my shift key in addition to my option key and that to stay straight on the same line. So to drag this right about until there's just a little gap between the two, I can make it, so it's very close. But I think we have a little bit of opening there, like both mouth. Let go the keyboard. Okay. Now I'm going to teach you a trick that you may or may not have heard off. So I want to create the exact same thing. I want to create another link. So the only thing I need to do right now is duplicate the last action I did. And to do that, I'm gonna hold on my command key control on PC and press the D key. Okay, so we actually have the exact same measurements and it's moved over to create a duplicate. And I can do that as much as I'd like. I can do command d again and it makes another one now. This is also what you have to be very careful and make sure everything's lined up perfectly . Gonna undo this four minute Do command the controls, the un PC? Because if I had done this and let's say it was off by a little bit, what are my option key to get a duplicate like what amounts like on the keyboard? If I try to duplicate this one, it's going to do all of those at an angle, which could come in handy if that's what you're going for. But I'm going to go ahead and undo this, and we'll set us back to what we had before. So how did my option key and the shift key to get a duplicate and how to command D to repeat the last thing I did? So the next thing, I do want it. Let's go ahead and select all of this. And I think I want to give them all the same kind of Phil. So over here in color, If you don't see that, simply come over here and click on this little palate icon here, going to give them kind of a red just so you can see what's happening. So we have a black stroke and a red fill. Now, if all these selected, we're going to go again to our shape builder, tool and for the first link here with a click and drag and then I'll stop right here. Okay, so we have this one solid piece and then for the next section, click and drag for the over click and drag for the top part here and I'll stop, Just shine that. And if you noticed, we just kind of making all of this so can interlock. And then the last one will kind of make the reverse that this 1st 1 here click and drag until all the pieces are selective. Okay, Gonna hold on my command key to get my selection tool temporarily hear this click once to De select everything, and there is our interlocking chain. Now I could thicken up the stroke here. It's just do command A You come up here to stroke in the fittest ear. Six. Now, if you notice nothing is happening in, let's make sure we go to our selection tool and said that six. And there is our interlocking chain. Remember what we used with our rounded rectangle tool? And we could adjust how rounded the corners were by using our up and down arrows on our keyboard. And we also used Object Path outlined stroke to convert a stroke toe a fill. And we're also able to change our stroke once we're done using the shape builder toll. Now, the same effect can actually be done with letters, and we'll go over that in the next lesson. 4. How to Create Linked Letters: In our last lesson, we worked on a simple chain link using the rounded rectangle tool. Well, we're gonna do another type of interlocking, and this time we're going to use letters. So we make a new document and I go ahead and click. OK, And I will use in this example when using the type tool, of course, will also be used in the selection tool, the shape, builder tool, and are stroking Phil cars. In addition, what's going to bring up our swatches for this one? So first good in my type tool, use the normal type here it's going to click, and I'm gonna do some simple letters of you, a lower case be and lower case D. Now, if you look up here at the top, it shows the characters and it shows what point size, everything. Is this that 12 point? And I'm using the font. Myriad pro, No, Go ahead and skip my selection tool, and I'm gonna hold on my shift key to keep everything in scale and proper proportion. And when I click and drag one of the corner modifiers here, it's gonna drag us down. So it's live it larger and I think I do want to actually have a different font. So click on character and let's see if I can find one looking for one that's a little more bold. So you something simple, like Ariel and said that too bold. Okay, that'll work. And what I want to do at this point is I want to convert these into a shape versus it being text. Now, the thing is, once you do this, you can't go back and say, Oh, I meant this to be the letter A or something like that because at that point you would have to re type them out using the text tool. But for now, I want to convert these to a simple shape. Now, you could easily go up to type and come down to create outlines or the quickie command is command shift, which is what I usually use. So the command shift. Oh, that's control shift on PC. And now these are shapes. They're no longer letters, but they are grouped. So if I click on one, it selects both of them. So the UN group do command shift G. It's control. Shivji on PC! So now what? I want to do, It's click and drag. Listen over. It's gonna hold on my shifts. That moves in a straight line so it's interlocking with the other one. So click and drag to select both of these. And once again, we'll goto our shape Builder tool. I can click and drag to have part of the letters here. Click and drag the rest there so we have to separate shapes. And what I can do now is I go to my selection tool, going to click once to de select everything, and I click on the letter B and I'll bring up my swatches. And if I don't see all of my normal swatches, I'll simply go. And if I don't see any of my normal swatches here and cut down the violence, a show all swatches and I can go ahead and add this red and next are going selected letter D and will make this one green. Now, do you select both And so there We have two interlocking letters. Now, of course, we can do what we did with the chain, and I could select both of these and come down to the base here and at a stroke so and a black stroke. And we could even increase that stroke so we can do interlocking letters the same way we did with the chain. But what we would need to do is first grand type out the letters we want. And of course, you want to choose a fund that will work with your design. And then you want to convert that type to a shape my doing type, and you come down and select, create outlines. And then, of course, we'll go ahead and use shape builder to create that interlocking look. So go ahead and try this out, See what letters it works best with. Is it upper case or lower case What fonts work better with this? 5. Create a Set of Keys: for a final exercise. We're gonna be doing this set of keys and we're going to be using a lot of the techniques we've gone over previously. So we'll be using the selection tool. We'll be using the rectangle tool as well as the Ellipse tool. We'll also be using the scale tool and last but not least of course, will be using the shape builder. So what I want to do to start here, I'm not gonna create a new document. I'll show you how I brought all these little guys over to the side. I'm just gonna grab my selection tool, click and drag around, Select both of these keys here, hold on my shift key and shrink this down in size. And then I'll click in movies over to the fight here. Okay, So to get started what? And grab our lips tool and on a click and drag and hold on my option key and shifts that could get a perfect circle. And that's the decent size. Let go in the mouth. Let go to keyboard. Now, Right now I have the set to a purple fill which actually is pretty good because we'll be able to see exactly what's going on with some things. Now the first thing I want to do is create the ring for the key. So I'm gonna go to my scale tool, double click, and I'm going to do a size of 75% and do copy. Okay, so now you see a smaller circle there. All right, so next will need to do the long part of the key. So go to car rectangle tool, and I'm gonna hold down my command key to temporarily get the selection tool and click once just to de select everything. Okay, Now, I still have my smart guides on. And if you don't see this, make sure you go up to view, come down and make sure smart guy just turned on. You can see about where the center is and want to come down to this bottom anchor here could hold on my option key autumn PC, click and drag out. So that's living it. Come out from the center, just drag straight down. Now it's going both to top and bottom, which I'm not worried about right now. Look, or the mouth let go the keyboard. So what? I can do now is hold on my shift key on my keyboard and we use my error keys and just push us all the way down. Now, just to make sure everything's lined up perfectly, I'm gonna show you something that a lot of people don't usually use. When Illustrator first came out or action when I was first learning it, you really didn't get to see the preview mode all the time. So I go to that sometimes just to make sure that all of my artists doing what I'd like it to Dio and I can simply do command. Why? Let's control why on PC And I see that that line is just a little bit above gonna zoom in here, gonna do, command equals control equals on PC. I'll select the path and actually and send me moving this down I'm going to grab the modifier here. She dragged us right under. Okay, then I do command Why? To get back to normal and let's do command minus to zoom back out. All right. Next, grab my rectangle tool and we'll do the teeth of the key. It's been a click and drag out. When here hold on my command in my option key. And that's control. Altan, PC. Click and drag down a copy. Oh, this would work. Tangle A little bit of faith that go the mouth. Let go the keyboard now on a duplicate this by doing command d All right, so now we have this nice little e going on here, but I do want to adjust some of these, So grab the selection tool. And I can either slide this down a little bit or cook here. And then I would just the modifier into spring one of those down a little bit smaller. Also, if I want, I can select all of these or even just the bottom one. Use my keys on my air keys on the keyboard and by moving these. I'm just moving at one picks a lot of time. If I hold on my shift key moving it like 10 pixels at a time, zoom in and make sure it's doing when I need to hold my space bar. Typically get the hand toll second. Move around. Okay, that looks good. I just wanted a quick Kim going to command one, and that brings us to 100%. So now we have our first little key. So what I want to do is select all of this and you see all the different parts and will now go to are shaped builder tool. And I grab the ring here, and I'm just gonna keep holding down my mounts. And it's kind of trace along what I need here. No, I don't have to. Aiken, let go here. And since I'm still on this work and come back and just add yet apart toe Now there is one small thing we have, and that's this little guy in the middle. So what I need to do is simply hold down my option key out on PC and click the middle. And there is our key. All right, now I'm going. Teoh, undo this just to show you a little shortcut to command. See? Controls the MPC. All right. And I'll go to my selection tool click and drag all in silver. What are my option? Key on the PC and it's drying over a copy and this first key will go ahead, Grab are shaped builder and do what we did before. So to scrap all the different pieces and the middle hold on our option key and click to get rid of that. Now, what I want to do here is make a copy of this ring first often dragged us over to the side . And when I click down and I do command option shift, that's control option Shift on PC. Now drag out a copy just origin inside that got him out ago the keyboard and on a click and drag another copy. Someone just gonna hold down my option. And I'm looking for right where tells me it's doing an Intersect going to mass. Look on the keyboard, clicking dragon Select on all these and see how this looks. Looks a little bit off centered. So the command Why again? So I can see things a little bit better now It's like that Top one and move that so it lines up a little better. That's your command. Why once more and we'll click and drag to select all of these and let's go to are shaped builder tool and we can get all of our rings here. I'm just making this flat. Of course, you could make this interlocking. It would be a very nice little design, but I'm just making this are flat. All right? So I know that's the ship that I want cause I can roll over this and I see that perfect shape. Of course, Now we have to get rid of the little holes it's gonna do Command plus or command equals to zoom in here. Hold on my option key autumn PC And it's quick in the spaces. I don't want there. All right, let's go back to our selection tool. What dragged us over and again? You're seeing that little nice little smart guy there. But you know what's going on? It's them out. Hold on my option key and shift and while scales down using my arrow keys on the keyboard. All right, so there's our second key, and one last thing I do want to do here. Zoom in and with my selection tool. Click on the rectangle here and just pull in these little corners. She didn't actually have these rounded off a little bit. It's another way of doing around little rounded rectangle. Muslim out. Select all of these and let's go to you are shaped builder and make sure all the pieces are now connected. Last but not least, we'll go ahead and change the color. Make sure on the selection tool when we do this. Speak up. Green looks good. And because I'm on the selection tool, I can always rotate where things are. It's kind of moved him down and we go back again and use our shipbuilder once more. All right, so both of those are the same color. Click that and make it green again. Okay? And so there we have our two keys and we built that 2nd 1 based off the very 1st 1 Think of different combinations you could dio. And the more you play around with this, the more comfortable you're going to get. 6. Your project 720p: Okay, Now it's your turn using some of the techniques that I've shown you with the shape builder . Go ahead and recreate one of the things that I've created or make your own object. Maybe you can put together letters with a key chain, or maybe add letters to a chain or just makes something using the shape builder, and you'll be surprised how quickly you can get it done. Be sure to post your project. And if you really enjoy this course, please be sure to give it a like this has been Tony Ross for Tony. Teach dot com Remember, Keep it simple. Make it perfect. If you don't have time to make it perfect, rethink the idea. Have a good one.