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The Non-Designer's Illustrator Book: Drawing with Shape and Line Tools

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If you feel that you’re drawing-challenged, follow the tasks in this chapter and then play with the tools in Illustrator. You’ll discover that you’re able to create all sorts of amazingly creative and useful images.

Illustrator provides tools for easily creating lines and shapes. Drawing with shapes (rectangles, ellipses, stars, etc.) can be a surprisingly creative and satisfying solution, especially if you don’t think you can draw. It can be even more effective than drawing with felt-tip pens in a style that won somebody [that would be John] a potted plant in a fifth-grade poster contest.

If you feel that you’re drawing-challenged, follow the tasks in this chapter and then play with the tools—you’ll discover that you’re able to create all sorts of amazingly creative and useful images.

Drawing with shape tools

Let’s start by using some of the shape tools from the Tools panel. As you do the tasks in this chapter, you’ll be introduced to lots of panels and settings that you’ll use in every project.

These exercises start your vector drawing career. The simple steps included here are used to some degree in every vector drawing.

Task 1 Draw a rectangle

rectangle_tool.jpg
  1. Select the Rectangle tool from the Tools panel.
  2. Drag diagonally in any direction.

Release the mouse after you create a horizontal rectangle.

Task 2 Apply fill and stroke attributes to the rectangle

  1. With the black Selection tool, single-click the rectangle to select it.
  2. Click the Fill Color pop-up menu in the Control panel (shown below), then choose a color from the swatches panel that opens.
  3. While the rectangle is still selected, click the Stroke Color pop-up menu in the Control panel, then choose a color from the swatches panel that opens.
  4. From the “Stroke” weight pop-up menu, choose 6 pt.

    Or tap the Up/Down arrows to the left of the stroke weight.

    Or type 6 in the value field (you don’t have to type the “pt.”

Task 3 Draw a perfect square

square_tool.jpg
  1. With the Rectangle tool, hold down the Shift key as you drag a shape.
  2. Add the Option key (PC: Alt key) as you drag to change the origin point from a corner to the center of the square.

Task 4 Draw a perfect circle

ellipse_tool.jpg
  1. Select the Ellipse tool (it’s hidden under the Rectangle tool).
  2. Drag diagonally in any direction.

To constrain the ellipse to a perfect circle, hold down the Shift key as you drag.

To make the center of the circle the origin point as you drag, hold down the Option key (PC: Alt key) as well.

Task 5 Draw a rounded rectangle

rounded_rectangle_tool.jpg
  1. Select the Rounded Rectangle tool (it’s under the Rectangle tool).
  2. Drag diagonally to create a rectangle.

    To constrain the shape to a rounded square, hold down the Shift key as you drag. To make the center of the shape the origin point of the drag, hold down the Option key (PC: Alt key).

  3. To change the radius of the corners as you drag, tap the up or down arrows on the keyboard before you let go of the mouse/trackpad.

Task 6 Draw star shapes

star_tool.jpg
  1. Select the Star tool (it’s under the Rectangle tool in the Tools panel).
  2. Drag diagonally in any direction.

Task 7 Modify shapes

Once you’ve created a shape, you can modify it whenever and however you want. When creating artwork, it’s often best to start with basic shapes, then make changes to the shapes.

  1. Draw a perfect circle (see Task 4 on page 41), then apply any fill and stroke color you want (Task 2, page 40). Set the stroke size thick enough that you can easily see the path within the stroke.

    With the white Direct Selection tool, select the circle’s path (as explained in Chapter 3). Then practice the manipulations shown below.

  2. Draw a rectangle (see Task 1, page 40). With the white Direct Selection tool, modify the shape as shown below.
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