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Adobe Illustrator CC - Essentials Training

How to draw using the Shape Builder tool in Adobe Illustrator CC

Daniel Walter Scott

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In this video we're going to look at the Shape Builder Tool, I love this tool. It's absolutely my most favorite tool out of all the tools in Illustrator. We're going to take this drawing that we did of the fox with simple shapes, and add some kind of shadows to it. Well, not so much exciting about the shadows but more of the technique that we used the Shape Builder Tool to kind of be able to carve out extra colors within other shapes. I love it. Let's go and learn how to use it now.

To get started with the Shape Builder Tool, let's start with a really simple file. Go to 'File', 'Open', there is a file in here called 'Shape Builder', click 'Open'. Now this file is not very exciting. All it is, is I'm on my Black Arrow, just a couple of circles on top of a rectangle. So what I'd like to do is. I would like to, say this circle to join this rectangle. So I'm going to use my Black Arrow, and select them all, and we're going to go to the Shape Builder Tool, this guy here. He is the absolute best thing that ever happened to Illustrator. What it allows me to do is, you can see, by default there's a '+' next to my cursor there. What I can do is, watch this, I can hover above this, click, hold down my mouse, and just drag a line, and you see, it drags it across all three of these parts. And they are fused now as one thing. That is just awesome, no more Path Finder, and trying to join things, it's really easy, simple shapes using the Shape Builder tool, and they join.

Another cool trick is that if I hold down the 'Option' key on a Mac, or the 'Alt' key on a PC, you can see, it changes from a ' + ' to a ' - '. So what I can do now is, I want to minus this, and this, I'm holding down my mouse key. I can drag it across those two bits to minus those bits off. So that is its main two uses, joining things and minusing things. It also has another little trick where-- I've got two bits selected, right, and what I can do is, I can pick a Fill color, let's say this, and use it for, not minusing or adding, but just coloring in bits. So I'm going to click off in the background here, and watch this, I can just click on that and it uses that as the Fill color. Just really handy to go through, pick a color, click off, click in there, and it just fills shapes.

I'll go back to my Black Arrow, and now, I click off, it's actually just three separate shapes that have been colored in. Let's use it in a kind of a practical sense now. So let's close this guy, I don't want to save him, it wasn't that exciting. So before we go and create a round kind of custom shape from the Shape Builder Tool I'm going to show you how I use it mostly. I want you to open up the 'fox' that we made earlier. If you haven't done that tutorial, you can cheat, go to the 'Exercise Files', and download one called 'Shape Builder 2', open it up. So what I'd like to do is, I want to add some shadows to this. You've seen that at the beginning of this video.

So first thing we need to do is, with the Black Arrow let's just grab this background, and just move it over to this side. Just to make life a little easier let's go to 'Layers', and turn 'Off' the view of the template. We'll move it back in later on. So what I'd like to do is, I'm just going to start with the head. I'm going to grab the 'Line Tool', I'm going to draw a line that goes from his ear, and I'm going to go all the way through his face here just to show you how good the Shape Builder Tool is. I'm going to grab the 'Black Arrow', and I'm going to have this selected, plus holding 'Shift', and grabbing these selectors. So I've got the head, and the line there, just those two, and go to 'Properties'.

I'm going to go to my 'Shape Builder Tool', now I want to color it. So, like we did earlier, with the red and the blue, I'm going to pick a Fill color. I'm going to go to my 'Swatches' here, pick the orange. I'm going to move to this, like color mixer. Pre-made swatches here, color mixer here. I want to make it a bit dark, watch this, this 'K' is black. You can see, if I drag it, it gets a bit darker. I'm going to go to maybe 10%. You can be a bit more flexible with yours. Now, just need to click anywhere out, to close that box. Now when I hover above, click once, and I've got this lovely dark, lovely. That's fine. So yes, cast this shadow here.

Now next thing I want to do is grab my Black Arrow and just click off in the background. There are some bits left over that thing there, if you've got some black hanging off the end here, you can just select it, and hit 'Delete'. Don't need that anymore. Next thing I want to do is maybe cast a shadow underneath the chin. Same thing, 'Line Tool', cast some sort of fake Casting Shadow thing. 'Black Arrow', hold 'Shift', so I've got the line, and his body selected. Actually you can't go to Fill yet, you got to go to the Shape Builder Tool, then go to 'Fill'. I'm going to use that-- you can see it's the last color that I've used, and it's pretty mixed it. If it hasn't, you can go back to the 'Swatches', click this one, go here, do '10%'. Hopefully you can use the last mixed, save some time. I'm just going to hover above, and get to click out, hover above this, click once. This is going to run into our first problem with the Shape Builder Tool. Grab the 'Selection Tool', click off in the background. You can see, this has ended up above everything, which is fine. All I need to do is, with it selected, with the 'Black Arrow', click 'Arrange', and 'Send to Back'. Now we'll be using 'Send to Back'. You might just need to 'Send Backwards', backwards goes back one step. If I click backwards now, it's not going to quite work, it's probably going behind, I don't know, this, and you can keep going backwards. And it's just one step at a time, backwards, backwards, and eventually you'll get there. I'm going to go to 'Arrange', 'Send to complete back'. Awesome!

Now I'm going to do a couple of more shadows, you can follow along if you like. I'm going to grab this, copy and paste it, make it bigger. I'm going to use it like, shadow for his bum. I'm going to select both of these, holding 'Shift'. With my Black Arrow, move to the Shape Builder Tool. Pick a Fill color. Last used color, didn't work. I'm going to go to here and pick 10%. Click off, and then click back on. Back to my Black Arrow, click off in the background, grab him, don't need you anymore, buddy. I'm going to do the same with the tail here, copy, paste it. Make it a bit bigger. I'll use it to kind of make some sort of tail shadow. Select both of them. Holding 'Shift', go to 'Shape Builder Tool'. You will get it after some time, Shape Builder Tool is one of the shortcuts I use loads.

If I hover above the tool, can you see, it says, 'Shift+M'. That's both for Mac and PC. If I hold down the 'Shift' key on my keyboard, and type 'M', it jumps to the Shape Builder Tool. And the Black Arrow is 'V'. So very often, I'm going 'V', 'Shift+M', you can see on my Tool Bar I'm kind of jumping in between the two by just clicking those keys. 'Fill', I'm going to use this one, '10%'. Click off, and I'm going to say, you, clicking my Black Arrow, which is the V key, delete this one. I'm going to create some sort a line here, now I'm just knocking about. You can skip on if you like.

Select both of them. 'Shift+M'. Pick a darker color than I had before for my Swatches. Kind of looks like he's doing custom made shadow from the moonlight. I'm going to grab this one, drag it back in. Snap it up, you'll just notice that it's in the wrong kind of layer order. So I'm going to do a 'Select In'. 'Arrange', and 'Send to Back'. And that's kind of how I use the Shape Builder a lot. I kind of get the basics in with some shapes, then use other shapes and the Shape Builder Tool to kind of construct some more sophisticated art work. So that's kind of updating an existing drawing.

Let's go and make something cool in the next video. Totally with the Shape Builder Tool. It's pretty nice, and it's one of those styles that are trending at the moment. So let's go and look how to do that in the next video.