Introduction to the Shape Builder Tool (part 2)

Tip by ana zdravic on January 17, 2018

So, if you checked out Part 1, to get the basic features of the Shape Builder Tool down, now it’s time to break through to the slightly more advanced stuff! 

In this tutorial, we will be extending what we covered in Part 1 and do a slightly more complicated design. 

To get started, I will draw two stars (with different shades) to mark the inside and the outside: 

A quick review of how to delete an object, simply select the two objects and with the Shape Builder tool activated, hold the Alt key and as the negative (-) symbol appears next to the cursor click on the area which you would like to be removed. 

However, for my unique shape, I decided to keep the inner star because I like the contrast between the two shades 🙂

So, next, I wanted to add a base under the star, so I used the Rectangle Tool to draw it. But, then I wanted texture with pointed corners on one of its sides. I could do this effects in a number of ways, but one approach is to use the Shape Builder Tool to subtract shapes (in this case circles): 


One important skill to develop here is to be able to think of shapes as things that you can remove and delete, in order to “sculpt” a unique form. 

Next, I wanted the base to have rounded edges on the left side. So, this would require the larger circles to join the base. Instead of clicking each shape one by one, one trick is with the Shape Builder Tool to click and drag. You can do this freely and fluidly (which is what makes the tool so great and awesome to use): 

Then, to add more detail, I can remove circular motives from the shape. Removing is easily, remember it’s just the Alt + Click. Don’t forget to have the shapes selected! 

Next, I want to add in the rounded, black rectangles into the star’s form. Here, you can clearly see the power of the Click + Drag feature of the Shape Builder Tool. 

With the relevant shapes selected, you will see that additional shapes are created (where the original shapes intersect). With Click + Drag, you conjoin all of the areas fluidly. See? 

Next, the center needs to go. Easy peasy. 

To top things off, I want the rounded rectangles to have little lines cut out, like this:

To do this, little rectangles need to be drawn and rotated to match the given orientation. You can use the Alt + Click + Drag trick to draw a line over the shapes that you want to go away (instead of clicking twice). 

Now, the same thing needs to be done on the other side. 

So, there is it. A unique object filled with special shapes, just as I wanted. Couldn’t do this so fluidly and easily without the Shape Builder Tool. 

Now, that you know the basics down and have a preview into of a workflow, you can start thinking (and designing) not just in terms of positive shapes, but negative shapes, too. 

The trick to becoming advanced is to keep on adding and subtracting shapes continuously until you have a form that is expressive and useful. 

Good luck! 

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