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Classroom in a Book: Adobe Illustrator 7.0
- 3 -
Creating Basic Shapes
Many objects in Adobe Illustrator can be created by starting with basic shapes
and then editing them to create new shapes. For example, you can use tools to create
polygons, stars, and spirals, and then combine these shapes to build more complex
objects. In this lesson, you will create some shapes and then modify them to create
portions of the television artwork.
In this lesson, you'll learn how to do the following:
- Use tools and commands to create basic shapes
- Duplicate and combine objects to create new shapes
- Use selection tools to select objects and parts of objects
- Paint objects
Using the tools
To begin working, you'll create a new document. When you start Adobe Illustrator,
the program automatically opens a new document. You can also create a new document
at any time once Illustrator is running.
- 1 Choose File > New to open a new document.
(To see a sample of the finished artwork, open the Shapes2.ai file in the Lesson03
folder, inside the Samples folder in the AICIB folder on your hard drive.)
The new document appears with the name "Untitled art" in its title bar,
and the toolbox appears on the left side of the screen. You'll begin creating artwork
using a tool in the toolbox.
2 In the toolbox, click the Default Fill and Stroke button to set the paint
attributes to their defaults. In Adobe Illustrator, you control the thickness and
color of lines that you draw by setting "stroke attributes. A stroke is the
paint characteristics of a line. A fill is the paint characteristics of an object.
The default settings will let you see the objects you draw in white with a black
3 Position the pointer on the ellipse tool in the toolbox, and drag to
the right to select the star tool.
NOTE The star, spiral, and polygon tools are optional tools that
come with the Adobe Illustrator program. If the star tool doesn't appear in the toolbox,
use the Custom option of the Adobe Illustrator Installer to select and install the
The star creates a star-shaped object with a given number of points and size.
You can create a star by dragging, or you can specify its dimensions. "
4 Drag in the artwork window to draw a star. By default, the star tool
draws a 5-pointed star.
5 Press Delete to delete your drawing.
You'll draw the star again and use some keystrokes to control its shape.
6 Drag in the artwork window again to draw another star, but do not release
the mouse button.
As you drag, choose any of the following options to control the star's shape:
- To add or subtract points from the star, press the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow
key before releasing the mouse button. The tool stays set to the last value you set,
until you reset the number.
- To rotate the star, drag the pointer in an arc.
- To keep the star's top point pointing up, hold down Shift.
- To keep the sides of the star straight, hold down Option (Macintosh) or Alt (Windows).
- To keep the inner radius constant, hold down Control.
- To move the star as you draw it, hold down the Spacebar. Now you will create
the television knobs.
- 7 Position the pointer on the star tool in the toolbox, and drag to the
right to select the polygon tool (0). This tool lets you create a symmetrical polygon--a
8 Drag to draw a polygon, pressing Shift to constrain its sides.
By default, the polygon tool draws an octagon. As with the star tool, you can
use similar keystrokes with the polygon tool to control the shape of the polygon.
Next, you'll display a center point for use when aligning objects.
9 Choose Window > Show Attributes to display the Attributes palette.
Select the Show Center Point button to display the polygon's center point. All objects
created with one of the shape tools have a center point. The center point is visible
as long as the object is selected. You can use this point to drag the object or to
align the object with other elements in your artwork. You can make the center point
visible or invisible, but you cannot delete it.
10 Position the pointer on the polygon tool in the toolbox, and drag to
the right to select the centered-ellipse tool (Q).
11 Position the pointer over the center point of the polygon.
12 Hold down Shift; then drag outward from the center point of the polygon
to draw a circle. As you begin dragging, the pointer becomes hollow, indicating that
the pointer is aligned with the center of the polygon. Holding down Shift as you
drag with an ellipse tool constrains the shape of the object to a circle. Holding
down Shift as you drag with a rectangle tool constrains the shape of the object to
- To add or subtract points from the star, press the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow
Now you'll combine the basic shapes that you just created, using a Pathfinder
command. The circle should still be selected.
- 1 Click the selection tool (a) in the toolbox, and move the pointer over
to the polygon.
2 Hold down Shift, and then click the polygon to add it to the selection
of the circle. Shift-clicking an unselected object with a selection tool adds the
object to a selection. Next, you'll paint the shapes.
3 Click the Fill box in the toolbox.
4 Choose Window > Show Swatches if the Swatches palette is not visible.
You use the Swatches palette to select and store colors.
5 Click a blue swatch in the Swatches palette to fill both objects with
Now you'll use the Pathfinder > Exclude command to create a new shape by deleting
areas that the two shapes have in common. The Pathfinder commands combine, isolate,
and subdivide objects, as well as build new objects formed by the intersection of
6 Choose Object > Pathfinder > Exclude to delete areas that are common
to the selection.
The Exclude command traces all nonoverlapping areas of the selected objects, making
the overlapping areas transparent.
7 Drag the polygon over another object to see that it has a hole in the
center. Choose Edit > Undo to undo the move.
8 Click away from the artwork to deselect it.
Another way to create shapes is to combine them into a single shape using the
Pathfinder > Unite option.
9 In the toolbox, click the Default Fill and Stroke button (or press D)
to return the paint settings to their defaults.
10 Click the centered-ellipse tool (Q) in the toolbox.
11 Position the pointer in the window, hold down Shift, and drag outward
to draw the bottom of the vase.
12 Click the rectangle tool (j) in the toolbox to select it, and position
the pointer above the shape you just drew.
13 Drag downward to draw a tall, rectangular shape for the neck of the
If necessary, use the selection tool to drag the shape into position. If you make
a mistake, choose Edit > Undo and repeat the step.
14 Click the selection tool (a), and Shift-click the circle to select both
15 Now choose Object > Pathfinder > Unite to combine the shapes into
a single shape. The Unite command traces the outline of all selected objects as if
they were a single, merged object. Any objects inside the selected objects are deleted.
16 In the Swatches palette, click a radial gradient to fill the vase. A gradient
fill is a graduated blend between two or more colors or tints of the same color.
A radial gradient changes colors starting from the center point of the fill and radiating
outward to the endpoint. (For more information on gradients, see Lesson 19, "Creating
and Editing a Gradient Fill.")
17 Deselect the shape by clicking away from the artwork.
Creating zigzag lines
Illustrator lets you draw lines in many ways. You'll start by setting a color
to paint just the line.
- 1 In the toolbox, click the Fill box if it isn't already selected. Then
click the None button in the toolbox (or press /) to change the current fill to None.
Now you'll create a zigzag line, starting from a straight horizontal line.
2 Select the pen tool (e) in the toolbox.
3 Move the pointer to the window, and click it to create a starting point.
Clicking with the pen tool sets an anchor point and indicates that you are about
to draw a straight line.
4 Shift-click a point about 3 inches from the starting point.
To draw straight lines with the pen tool, you click to create a starting point
and an ending point. Shift-clicking constrains the line to multiples of 45[infinity]
angles. In Illustrator, points on paths are called anchor points. As their name implies,
anchor points set the position of line segments. The line is painted with the current
paint attributes--in this case, a stroke of black.
5 Command-click (Macintosh) or Ctrl-click (Windows) the line to select
The Command/Ctrl key activates the current selection tool, and clicking the path
Next, you'll make the line a zigzag.
6 Choose Filter > Distort > Zig Zag.
7 In the Zig Zag dialog box, turn on the Preview option so that you can
see the effect of your settings.
8 Enter 8 for the Amount and 5 for Ridges/inch. Select the Smooth Points
option, and click OK.
NOTE If the Zig Zag filter produces straight, jagged lines instead
of wavy zigzags, you can use the Round Corners filter to convert them to continuous
Another way to create shapes is by duplicating existing objects. Now you'll try
out various ways to copy objects, using the Transform palette and menu commands.
- 1 If the line isn't selected, Command-click (Macintosh) or Ctrl-click
(Windows) the line.
3 In the Transform palette, position the pointer in the Y text box after
the current value. The Y text box specifies the location of the reference point in
relation to the y (vertical) axis. You can use the Transform palette to move, rotate,
scale, skew, and resize selected objects. You can control where the transformation
begins by clicking one of the boxes in the upper left of the palette that represent
the object's bounding box. (The bounding box defines the selected artwork's boundaries.)
Now you'll move the line down 1/2-inch by performing a subtraction operation in
the Transform palette.
4 Make sure that the pointer is inserted after the existing value; then
type -0.5 in. Hold down Option (Macintosh) or Alt (Windows) and press Return or Enter
to apply the value to the object. A copy of the line moves down 1/2-inch. Holding
down Option/Alt as you press Return or Enter in the Transform palette creates a copy
of the transformed object.
In Adobe Illustrator, you can enter values in text boxes in other than the preset
unit. You can also add, subtract, multiply, divide, define percentages, and perform
other mathematical operations in any Illustrator text box that accepts numeric values.
Illustrator converts the values to the set unit, performs the calculation, and uses
the result. For more information, see "Automatically converting unit values
in text boxes" in Chapter 3 of the Adobe Illustrator User Guide or in online
5 To repeat the move-and-copy operation, choose Object > Transform >
Transform Again (Command+D on the Macintosh, or Ctrl+D in Windows). Continue pressing
Command/Ctrl+D until you have created eight lines. The Transform Again command lets
you repeat a move, scale, rotate, reflect, or shear operation as many times as you
want. You must choose the command immediately after you perform the operation.
Now you will create the outline for the TV screen. You'll divide overlapping shapes
so that you can paint them individually.
- 1 Position the pointer on the rectangle tool (j) in the toolbox.
The rounded-rectangle tool draws squares and rectangles with rounded corners;
you can set the size of the curve.
2 Drag to the right to select the rounded-rectangle tool (J).
3 Position the pointer at the top left of the wavy lines, and drag to create
the screen. If necessary, use the selection tool (a) to drag the rounded rectangle
to reposition it.
4 Click the selection tool (a) in the toolbox, and drag to select all of the
objects. Notice that any line partially enclosed by the marquee becomes selected.
(For more information about selecting, see the "Making Selections" lesson
and the "Drawing and Selecting" movie on the Adobe Illustrator Tour and
Now you'll use the Divide command to create the TV screen from the zigzag lines
5 Choose Object > Pathfinder > Divide to divide the selection of
overlapping objects into discrete, closed shapes and eliminate stray artwork.
Notice how the shapes outside of the selection have been deleted.
The Divide command divides a piece of artwork into its component filled faces
(a face is an area undivided by a line segment). The resulting faces can then be
ungrouped and manipulated independently of each other.
NOTE You can have the Divide command remove unpainted artwork.
For more information, see "Setting Pathfinder preferences" in Chapter 7
of the Adobe Illustrator User Guide or in online Help.
6 Click away from the artwork to deselect it.
Editing individual segments
To complete the artwork, you'll select individual waves and paint them. Applying
the Divide command grouped the waves. Grouping combines objects into a group so that
the objects are treated as a single unit.
- 1 In the toolbox, click the Fill box.
2 To select an individual wave, position the pointer on the direct-selection
tool(b) in the toolbox and drag to the right to select the group-selection tool (B).
The group-selection tool lets you select objects within a group. (For more information
about the group-selection tool, see "Selecting objects" in Chapter 5 of
the Adobe Illustrator User Guide or in online Help.)
3 Click any wave outline to select it.
4 Specify a new color by doing one of the following:
- In the Swatches palette, click a color swatch.
- Choose Window > Show Color to display the Color palette, and then drag the
color sliders. (Using the color sliders, you can edit the fill and stroke colors
according to several different color models. You select a color model by pressing
the black triangle in the palette to display the palette menu, and then choose a
model from the palette menu.)
- In the Color palette, enter values next to the color sliders.
- In the toolbox, click the Gradient button. Then in the Swatches palette, click
- In the Swatches palette, click a color swatch.
- 5 Repeat steps 3 and 4 to paint the rest of the waves.
6 Choose File > Close. If desired, name the file and save your changes.
You've completed the basic shapes lesson and created the television artwork.
For more information about selecting a fill or stroke color, see Lesson 4, "Painting,"
or see "Painting" (Chapter 9) in the Adobe Illustrator User Guide or in
- How do you choose a selection tool without deselecting the active tool?
- Press Command (Macintosh) or Ctrl (Windows), and click the object.
- Describe two ways to duplicate an object.
- Select the object first. Then you can duplicate objects in many ways. (1) You
can use the standard Macintosh and Windows commands of Edit > Copy and Edit >
Paste. (2) You can select an object and then Option-drag or Alt-drag to copy it.
(3) After using one of the first two methods to copy and paste, you can repeat the
operation by choosing Transform > Transform Again or pressing Command+D (Macintosh)
or Ctrl+D (Windows). (4) You can use the Transform palette to apply a change and
duplicate the object simultaneously by pressing Option+Return (Macintosh) or Alt+Enter
- Why is the number of anchor points on a line significant? How can you add anchor
points to a line?
- Anchor points divide a line into segments and let you control the shape of the
line. You can use anchor points to edit these segments. You can add anchor points
using the add-anchor-point tool.
- How do you create a hole in your artwork?
- You can use the Object > Pathfinder > Exclude command to create a see-through
object. You overlap two objects, and then apply the Exclude command; the topmost
object will cut a hole through the backmost object.
- How do you select an object within a group?
- You use the group-selection tool to select the object.