Adobe Illustrator Shape Builder tool tutorial

Design ninja Tony Harmer demonstrates a quick way to create compound shapes in Illustrator, in this two-minute video walkthrough from our #10MinSkills series of time-saving tutorials.

The Shape Builder is a powerful tool, giving you Pathfinder capabilities in a fraction of the time. You can create unique forms in seconds by merging, extracting or erasing intersecting objects. All you have to do is click and drag, as pro designer and illustrator Tony shows in the video below.

Speed up your vector illustration workflow



The Shape Builder tool can substantially speed up your creative process. Here’s how it works: once you’ve created your basic shapes, use the Selection tool to select the paths you’d like to merge, choose the Shape Builder tool from Illustrator’s Tools panel (or hit Shift+M), and click and drag your mouse through any intersecting regions that you’d like to merge into a new shape.

Top tip: Press Shift as you drag to display a rectangle marquee for merging multiple paths.

If you want to delete edges or closed regions within selected shapes, select the Erase mode by holding down Opt/Alt (Mac/Win), and simply click the region or edge you’d like to delete. It’s that simple – as Tony shows above.

#10MinSkills: Know your tools


#10MinSkills Adobe Illustrator


This quick shape-building tutorial is all part of our #10MinSkills campaign, which challenges you to set aside just 10 minutes every day to learn a new skill.

Why? Because in an Instagram age of instant gratification – where anyone can be a designer at the touch of a button – it’s more important that ever for professional creatives to know their tools. There are no shortcuts: to be a better designer, you need to learn your software.

Technology develops faster than our habits, though, and few designers or illustrators harness the full power available at their finger tips. (If you’re one of countless creatives who use the same menus, panels and palettes over and over again, you’ll know what we mean.)

Watch more #10MinSkills technique tutorials

We want to change that by helping designers and illustrators widen their skill sets. So we’ve collaborated with some of the industry’s most exciting creatives to bring you a series of short, engaging time-saving technique videos that teach a new vector-based tool or skill in just a few minutes.

By repeating each technique for 10 minutes every day – over your lunch break, say, or after dinner – you’ll quickly establish valuable new habits that will speed up your workflow, helping you work more efficiently, hit ever-tighter client deadlines and free up more time for the fun part: actually being creative.

We'll be adding more time-saving technique tutorials to our blog over the coming weeks. And we want to hear your tips, too: if you have a pro vector workflow technique that’s changed your life, let us know in the comments below.


Meet the designer: Tony Harmer

When Adobe UK’s Tony Harmer (full job title: specialist solutions consultant, Digital Media: Design & Mobile Ideation, Adobe Systems Europe) isn’t showing designers, illustrators and digital artists how to get more from Adobe’s design tools, he’s busy running his Digital Ninja YouTube channel, where he can be found helping creatives work smarter – not harder – with Creative Cloud.

You’ll also find the most up-to-date tips, tricks and techniques for improving your workflow on his website and channel. As he says: “Let’s not work like it’s 1995”.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Your Cart