Create complex shapes with Illustrator’s Shape Builder Tool

2 minute read

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.

 Create complex shapes with Illustrator’s Shape Builder Tool

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.

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