Adobe Illustrator CC - Advanced Training

Class Project 01 - The best creation tool in Adobe Illustrator CC the shape builder tool (Draw and color your own whale)

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this video we're going to use the very best creation tool in all of Illustrator, in my opinion, the Shape Builder Tool to make this whale circle-y special thing. All right, let's go build it now in Illustrator. 

First up, let's work out what Shape Builder does, or replaces. It's the Path Finder Tool. We love to hate the Path Finder Tool, right? I want to join these shapes up, or knock them out, and you end up kind of, you know you can select only two at a time. You have to do some copying and pasting, and have versions, and you're like "I'm going to click on this one." Not the one, undo. Have everybody done that, or is it just me? I do the undo, click on them all, see which one works. That can take a while, right? So this tool replaces that. Goodbye, you guys. Hello, whale. 

Let's draw you with the Shape Builder Tool. Basically what we're going to do is kind of like we did with the Path Finder Tool, have two shapes, and kind of cut them out, but we can do multiple shapes, and there's some great perks. You might have already used the Shape Builder Tool, and that's okay. I'm going to try and do a bit more advanced techniques here. So let's get started with-- I'm going to grab the Ellipse Tool, I'm going to have 'no' Stroke, and a 'black' Fill. I'm going to start in the center. Kind of hold down the 'Option' key and 'Shift' to start from the center. If you're on a Mac-- sorry, I'm on a Mac. If you're on a PC, hold down 'Alt' key and 'Shift', and start dragging. 

You can go and start from the centers. Not perfect. I'm going to use my arrow keys to tap it around. That's kind of a good start. I want to draw a line across there. Just going to grab my 'Line Segment Tool'. I'm going to click, hold, and drag. You can use the Pen Tool, doesn't matter. Maybe the next thing I'll do is-- I guess I want this big kind of like rolly, wave, kind of fan type thing. So what I'm going to do-- I'm going to show you how I would build it. So I'm going to copy and paste this. Now if you use 'Command F', there it is there, or 'Control F' on a PC, and paste it back exactly where it gets it. So I use that often rather than copy and paste because, watch this, paste just puts it in the middle of the window. Bad. So 'Command F' on a Mac, 'Control F' on a PC. And what I want to do is actually I want to just-- I'm using my arrow key. I want to kind of try and line up that. Probably have to make it a little smaller. Holding 'Shift'. What I want to do is-- you're looking at this area here. I'm just trying to get some sort of nice curve. 

We could use the Width Tool but we're using the Shape Builder Tool, because I reckon it's going to do probably a better job. Only because I want to keep this complete circle absolutely nice. The design kind of calls for this whale to be this round bit. So I've got that bit. Let's start with that. Actually I want to lob that bit off, I'm going to use the Line Segment Tool. And I'm going to say, you, just draw a line through here. I'm going to select it all with my 'Black Arrow'. And what I might do, just to make it easier for you guys is, on my 'Layers Panel', just turn it off to see what we're doing. So if you've never used the Shape Builder Tool be prepared, this thing is awesome. Here it is there. Hard to describe that one, right? That's the icon, Shape Builder Tool. 

What we want to do is, there's two kind of modes there's adding and subtracting. In this case, down the bottom here I want to add this bit. So all I do is click, hold, and drag across and join these two bits and I want to add that bit down there. Kind of make that one solid shape. You can imagine using the Path Finder Tool, need lots of undos. Now I want to slice these bits off. So what I do is hold down the 'Alt' key on a PC, or 'Option' key on a Mac. You can see, our cursor gets a little minus '-' there. So I'm going to drag across it, drag across you. Drag across. You can see how cool, quick, and easy it is. I've built that first little path now. I'm going to turn on that layer again. 

Let's start doing the rest of it. I'm not going to build every single thing with Adjust Shapes. There's a couple of curves in here, I'll probably use the Curvature Tool for. Let's do the hard stuff first. So you can move on if you're getting bored of this. So what we'll do is join this circle up the top here. I'm going to grab the 'Ellipse Tool', draw a circle. Kind of starting at the center there. Now, a cool little shortcut is, when you're kind of getting things lined up it can be a little hard when there's a Stroke Weight on it. We've got a Stroke Weight of 1, I think. But if you hit 'Command Y' on a Mac, or 'Control Y' on a PC-- I'm also going to turn the background layer off. 

It just gives you kind of really fine detail. The long way is under 'View', and it's called-- this one here, Pixel Preview, versus-- not Pixel Preview. Outline, there it is at the top there, versus GPU Preview. So that's the thing we toggle between. I use that one all the time, 'Command Y', or 'Control Y'. I'm going to go back in. What I'm looking to do is just get this thing kind of close to here. It's never going to be perfect. I'm just trying to grab the edge and get it kind of touching here, so this curve is going to look nice. I'm going to select both of them. I don't have to come out of a Wireframe Outline mode to keep using the Width Tool. 

Now, the Width Tool is one-- I say, the Width Tool, I might say that a couple of times in this course, I don't know why. I say that all the time, it's the Shape Builder Tool. So, it's 'Shift M', it's one of the shortcuts, write it down. It's actually one of those ones you use all the time. I'm going to click, hold, and drag across all these guys, and you'll notice along here, it's done a pretty good job of lining this up. I'll do one more and see if I can't fix it, or I can't make that look a little worse, so I can show you how to fix it. It's all looking okay, 'Command Y'. Let's look at this. I should have really had that on to draw out a circle. I'm okay with that. My drawing in this is a hand drawing. 

What I'd like to do here, is I'd like this to join up to this bit. Let's grab the-- I'm going to deal with two Ellipses again. I'm going to be able to use it, how? Corner Options, which is cool. I'm going to draw a circle roughly in the center here using my tricks. Roughly the right size. That feels a bit right. Be a little bigger. I'm going to have another circle. It's going to be a lot smaller to get that kind of inside radius. Now I'm just banging it around, trying to figure out, needs to be a bit smaller. There's times where Smart Guides can be a little painful. At the moment, I'm going to leave them on. Just using my arrow keys to tap it around. I want this to kind of line up here, and what I'll do is-- actually I'll make it even a bit smaller. And I'll have this, I want this a bit smaller. I want this kind of corner, you can see here, it just kind of corners in. And I want it to be smooth, and that's why Corner Options are going to help. 

So, you… Quit messing about, Dan, and just do it. I'm going to lob it off, probably about here. I'm going to grab all three of these guys. With my 'Black Arrow', remember, 'Shift M' is our cool tool, and I'm going to drag you guys. Drag these guys to join them up. I want to minus that. Goodbye to you, drag you across. I've kind of got rid of lots of bits. There's this kind of junk going on here so I'm going to go to 'Command Y' just to see what's going on. I'm going to zoom in. I'm going to drag across these two guys to join them up and I'm left with this. Now I'm going to grab my White Arrow, and remember, those Corner Options? This is where this is super handy, right? So, I'm going to click on just this point here, and tidy it up. 

Can you see, kind of just flows it around a lot more. Happens quite a bit. Nice, easy way to kind of fix those terrible joints. I could fix this one, I don't want to in this case, because-- but it's just an easier way than-- you've probably done it before and you've spent ages with the Pen Tool, and Anchors, and trying to delete bits. Man, it's a pain. So that's your handy tip. Let's continue-- any other hard bits? We're going to do the circle thing again here. What other hard bits? They're the same thing here with the Corner Options let's do that one next, before we do that. 

So I'm going to draw-- I'm trying to match these two Ellipses roughly. A bit bigger. Something like that. 'Command C' for copy, 'Command F' for paste and place right on the top of that. Make it a bit bigger, this curve. That feels okay. Select both of these guys, 'Shift M'. I'm going to minus that bit, minus that bit, join these guys here, join you. Get rid of that bit, join these. If you've forgotten the shortcut already, sorry about that, it is 'Alt' for PC, and "Option' for Mac, to minus, otherwise it just works by joining. I'm going to grab our 'Arrow Tool', and down here, I'm going to click on just this point, and I'm going to tidy that up. You can see, how nice, you can see a perfect circle, look at that, handy. 

Same thing is going to apply to this. We're going to draw that with the Curvature Tool. Let's draw-- this is probably the last thing that would be useful for you before I start actually just filling it in. I'm going to grab my Curvature Tool. Now Curvature Tool has a really weird shortcut, I use it all the time. It's a really hard one to learn, it's Shift and Apostrophe. I think it's Apostrophe, I think that's what you call it, if you hover above that, it is Shift plus that little tricky thing, I'm pretty sure that's Apostrophe. So, ‘Shift’ and that. I'm going to draw through it because if I get close to this, it's going to try and join it. Remember that shortcut we had before, if I select it with my 'Black Arrow' and go 'Command 2', it locks it, if you're on a PC, it's 'Control 2'. Now I can go back to my Curvature Tool, and I can click once there. And I'm going to click once there. I'm probably just going to go through, I'm not going to do this at one go, I'll cut this out with a circle. 

So I'm going to about there, then I want to go down to about, you can see, it's locked, but I can still follow that path, which is really nice. So, about there. We totally missed it though, let's bring him down. Yes, it's a bit good. 'Black Arrow', click it from the background, I'm going to unlock them all. Sometimes my shortcut doesn't work, so 'Object', 'Unlock All'. They're all unlocked, I can select him, 'Shift M'. Actually I don’t really need to, like change him. If I click on him, at least he's another shape, now if I grab my 'Black Arrow', this guy here is a separate shape, so I can color it later, I might just do that now. Don't worry about this little speckly line. We'll do that in a sec, actually we'll just do that now. 

So he's part of this thing here. So what ends up happening is, the line's trying to go through here, it doesn't know at all, when it's going to the edge, it's going like all the way out, and all the way bent to give it a nice pointy edge. If you don't want that, I don't really mind it at the moment because I'm probably going to get rid of the Stroke, but you might not. So with it selected, go to 'Properties', go to 'Stroke' and you got options along here for the way the corners are handled. At the moment, it's got this kind of mighty joint, which is this spiky thing. I can round that off, which just be nice or I can kind of get rid of it, which gives it a hack at the end. It's hard to tell. You have to zoom right in, and use this tool to see what happens, but have a play around with them, see which one will work for you. 

Let's tidy up a few bits and pieces. Let's draw the little thing here. I'll use my shortcut, 'Shift-Apostrophe'. Remember, double click for a corner, click once for a curve. Click once for a curve, double click for corner, click once for curve. Click once for a curve. Click once for a curve, and then, actually you really want to hit double click for a corner. That's just one click to kind of finish this thing off. Am I happy with it? Yes, so now it's turning the background layer on and off. That's good enough. Let's slice out the circles. I'll use you, I'll duplicate him, and I'll use the same one across here. 

Now duplication is, 'Black Arrow' and while I'm dragging it, holding down the 'Alt' key on a PC, or 'Option' key on a Mac. Now the Smart Guides is battling with me. I'll just tap it up with my arrow key. Select all of you guys, 'Shift M'. I'm going to say, I would like to join you guys up. And I want to hold down the 'Option' key on my Mac, or the 'Alt' key on a PC to delete all these guys. Now there's a couple of things, this thing's going up the top here. I feel like I want to go and redo it, so that-- because it's still not what I said, it's kind of not lining up. So I want to go back and look like a professional and know exactly what I'm doing, but I'm going to leave it in here because you might run into the same problem. 

How to fix this? No idea, but we're going to just try and make it do again. So I just selected both of them, gone back to my Shape Builder Tool, join them up. You can kind of see, it still wants to be two separate shapes. I'm not sure what that is. 'Command Y', now he's in there, he's looking good. I don't know. Now let's ignore that for the moment, and we'll go color this thing and see if it runs into any more problems. Let's do this circle here. Goes down the center. I turned these off way too early. If you're doing yours, and following along, don't turn this off early because I have to move my curves up around. It's all right, remember, 'Command Y' to go to outline. And we're just going to get this to—

Now, I'm going to leave that little bump in there to show you how to fix that. It's a cool way of doing it. So, 'Command Y', 'Shift M', almost done the same thing. Interesting. So what I want to do is tidy these up, so I'm going to grab my 'Pen Tool', and there's a couple of corners I want to get rid of. I'm going to go back to my 'Outline View'. 'Command Y', or 'Control Y' on a PC. I want to get rid of these guys. So, with the 'Pen Tool', nothing selected, it's got the minus '-', just kind of does it by itself. I don't want to get rid of that one because he controls a lot of this, I’m going to get rid of you. 

Now we've got a problem of this, kind of flowing along here. The easiest way to do it, is grab the 'White Arrow', click on this guy. He has a handle at this side but he has nothing on the other side, so the easiest way, what it does is a tiny little handle there, can't really see. So with it selected, I'm going to go to-- is it a curve already? I'm going to say, "Be a curve." You can see, it kind of extends that little guy out, and has it made it perfect? Not quite. I might have to do some manual adjustment. Often that little-- just make it a curve, we'll just fix it right up. I'm going to say I'm happy enough with it. I might have to play around with the handles. This tutorial is getting really long now, so I'm going to leave it. 

Let's do a couple more of these, then I'll go and fix this by myself, and come back. Actually I'll do that now, let's see if it's working one last time, and then I'll pause and try fix it, and give you the d low. So you two, join. You're still separate, join. Still separate. I'm going to pause it now, I'll be back in a sec, figure it out. It's got me stumped. I'm just going to leave it there because you might run into the same problem. I remember, when I drew it before-- might be just that version problem. How bad? In your comments, let me know. Did you run into it, or is it just me? No, just me, or leave it. If it's for everybody I'll contact Adobe, and we'll try figure it out together.

Let's look at finishing the last little bits off. So I'm back from the future. I couldn't work it out when I was originally fixing this video, and I got in touch with Adobe to help me. And made me look like a fool, but I'm back, I'm going to apply-- these two things are still separate, remember, I had that problem. All it is, is the options in your Shape Builder Tool. If you double click it, you get this option, it was on Gap Detection 'Large'. I was messing around with that on some other project and I left it along. Turns out it causes that problem. So change Gap Detection 'off', click 'OK'. Yours is not going to have this problem by the way, probably just mine. But now with it selected, I can go back to my Shape Builder Tool and everything should be good. Nice! 

I already have both of these selected. We still have a problem. So now they're joined, and they stop being separate. One thing you'll also notice that I turned back on, was, if I double click, I turned this off previously. This thing here, where it says Cursor Swatch Preview, turn it off because it's annoying, it's the thing just above the cursor. See that, if I double click it again it shows me the coloring just above it. I find that a little bit annoying, so I turned it off. We'll turn it back on now. Continue watching Dan floundering. But there's some good tips in there, continue watching and now we'll learn.

All right, back to your regular scheduled programming. We'll do this bit down here and actually what I'll do is reuse the shape. So I'm going to drag this across here, we'll show you how I work, right? I'm just going to slice this bit here using the 'Align Tool', select all of that. My Shape Builder, goodbye; goodbye, you two, weirdos. And I can get rid of these bits. So I've got this thing, I'm going to-- I should have officially gone in, like, use the proper flip but I just often do this. I know, you shouldn't, but, flip it across. I'm going to shift all these curves, who's going to know? You all are going to know, you're watching. Put it on a little bit smaller. Maybe make it a bit bigger. I'm messing about, we can fix that curve, right? 

So select both of these guys, 'Shift M' and I'm going to drag across there, across there, and grab the 'White Arrow', come down to here and say, you my friend need to be just a bit nicer. Grab the Target, not the Anchor Point. Just trying to flatten it out. Now if you find it doesn't flatten out really well, you can see, there's an Anchor Point there and there, they're both trying to do stuff. So what I might do is, this guy here doesn't seem to be doing a whole heck of a lot. So I'm going to grab my 'Pen Tool' and by default it will just try and minus it, which is cool. Now with my 'White Arrow', my 'Direct Selection Tool' now gives me a bit more of a nicer curve there. 

All right, last little bit here, Curvature Tool. Double click for a corner, click once for a curve, click once for a curve, double click. Click once for a curve, once for curve and the weird one, when you get back, when you double click here, it does it wrong. Just click it once to kind of finish the line. And that's the weird little thing there. Have I missed anything? Oh, this guy down here. I'll join you guys up. Turn it off, Layers. I think it's like coloring time, and avoid these guys. So let's do a couple of things. We're going to do some Gradient. You might totally move on now, because I'm just going to color it in, but you can watch if you like but I'm just going to color it in. 

I'm going to turn the background 'off', because I don't need you anymore. I am going to make another Layer. Actually I'm not going to make a Layer, I'm going to-- you should put Layers in, right, but I'm getting into the habit of just grabbing the Rectangle Tool and filling it with color, and locking it. Super handy, that was super quick. Send it to the back. Shortcuts to send to back is, at the moment, it's way above my whale, right? but I can, with it selected, with pretty much any tool, I can hold 'Command Shift' and hit the first of the square bracket '['. So look at your keyboard, just next to P there's the first square bracket. So that's 'Command-Shift-[', sends it all the way to the back. If you're on a PC, it's 'Control-Shift-[', and the second square bracket, ']' sends it to the front. Back, forth, back, forth, all the way through. So that's what I want. 

I'm going to lock it using 'Command 2', or you can use 'Control 2' on a PC. I'm going to stop giving the shortcuts. You'll be going mad soon, but we'll do a lot of it later on, we've got lots of videos to go. He's in the middle because that's where I want him to be. I am going to give him some Fill colors. I want to start by selecting, or just give it all the Fill. Now I'm going to-- because it's basically only a couple of shapes I'm going to get rid of the Stroke, and that's going to avoid my problem of joining along the top there. It could be the soul for it maybe. These guys here, I'm going to do a lighter color. Just some sort of lighter color. This guy here is going to be the same color. He's my Eye Dropper Tool, just to select from that. And this guy here is going to be lighter too, just because. Is it cool? Yes, it's all right. 

One last thing I'm going to show you. We'll put Gradients in this thing. Good old Gradients. So I'm going to draw a big kind of circle in the background. It's just for show, right? It's just, I wanted to, I want to pick 'black', actually I'll go to my Swatches, I'll pick this one. Maybe lower down the Opacity, it's just kind of, like a, I guess a look that I want. I just want to kind of lower it down. Send it to the back. Send this guy to the back. He's locked. See, he's the come forward one. What I could do now, I just want to crop it so it's not hanging around the edge. There's two ways of doing it, I can grab a 'Rectangle Tool' just drag it out, drag it to the edge properly, select both of them and hit 'Command 7', or if you're on a PC, 'Control 7', and that crops it, and that's cool, but you end up with this kind of, it's a cropped circle, and sometimes it runs into problems, right? 

So I'll show you how to do it with the Shape Builder Tool. You probably can imagine how this is going to work. 'Shift M' for the Shape Builder Tool, it's going to delete that bit and inside. Now send him to the back. That's kind of it for what I want to do with the whale. And now if you have joined, and yours look different, you can totally go in a different direction in terms of the flairs. You could do the whole thing slightly different, and different colors, but I'd like to see it, and I'd also like to find out if you had the same problems with the joining bits. But yes, send me-- I'd like to see what you've done. Either Instagram, Twitter, or here on this platform, there's an option for posting your projects. All right, happy whale making, not hunting.