Introduction to the Shape Builder Tool (part 1)

Tip by ana zdravic on January 7, 2018

Confidence with the shape-builder tool is an absolute must-have when it comes to your Adobe Illustrator skills because it is essential for quickly creating complicated shapes. 

So, before going on with this tool’s real essence, let’s get down to the basics first and learn its characteristics by accomplishing a simple shape manipulation! 

First, open one of your designs (or simply draw a square and you can follow right along). 

The purpose of this tip will be to demonstrate how to change one of the edges to look more like this (bottom-right) one: 

So, we will be aiming to make a rectangle with a tilted edge. 

To get such an effect, you must first create a shape in with you can subtract to the existing form. 

In this case, you need to subtract a triangle from the corner. So, you will need to make a right-angle triangle and place it in the bottom-right corner. 

But, in order to do that, you must first create the right-angle triangle!

There are many ways to go about doing that. One option is to create a square (see below) and then remove one of its corners: 

Then, you select that square:

And, with the direct selection tool (A) click on a corner and then hit backspace, in order to delete that edge. 

In this step, you can make the triangle white, in order to mimic the background. By making the triangle white you can place it carefully on top of the shape and get a sense of what the final piece will look like. 

When you place the white triangle just right, you can select both shapes and move on to the next step: creating the new shape with the Shape Builder Tool

While both of the shapes are selected, go to the menu and select the Shape Builder Tool (Shift +M). 

If you get a closer look, when you hover over the selected shapes, the area under the cursor will become interactive and gray. But, the default is to add or join shapes (more on this in Part Two), not subtract. (Check out the gif at the end of the tip, if you get confused.)

But, to get the shape builder tool to subtract is simple, just check out the gif below. 

With the shapes selected and the shape builder tool active, hover over the selected area. Then, in order to change the addition symbol to a subtraction symbol hold on to the Alt key while clicking on the shape that you would like removed! 

Et voila! You have your tilted edge 🙂 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *