Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

Working with Basic Shapes in Adobe Illustrator CC (2014 release)

Brian Wood walks you through part of a postcard project using Adobe Illustrator. This article is an excerpt from Adobe Illustrator CC Classroom in a Book (2014 release).

Check out the latest edition: Adobe Illustrator Classroom in a Book (2022 release).

Note: This excerpt does not include the lesson files. The lesson files are available with purchase of the book.

From the book

In the first part of this lesson, you’ll create some lamps for the postcard using basic shapes, like rectangles, ellipses, rounded rectangles, and polygons. You’ll begin this exercise by setting up the workspace.

  1. Choose Window > Workspace > Essentials (if it’s not already selected), and then choose Window > Workspace > Reset Essentials.
  2. Choose View > Rulers > Show Rulers to display rulers along the top and left side of the Document window (if they are not already showing).

The ruler units are inches because you specified them in the New Document dialog box. You can change the ruler units for all documents or for the current document only. The ruler unit shows when measuring objects, moving and transforming objects, setting grid and guide spacing, and creating shapes. It does not affect the units used in the Character, Paragraph, and Stroke panels. The units used in these panels can be changed by choosing (Illustrator > Preferences > Units [Mac OS] or Edit > Preferences > Units [Windows]).

Creating rectangles

First, you’ll create a series of rectangles that will be the start of a lamp on the postcard. Rectangles and rounded rectangles are considered Live Shapes. This means that attributes like width, height, rotation, corner radius, and corner style are still editable later and are retained even if you scale or rotate the shape.

  1. Make sure that the number 1 is showing in the Artboard Navigation area in the lower-left corner of the Document window, which indicates that the first artboard is showing. Choose View > Fit Artboard In Window.
  2. First, you’ll create a rectangle that will become a part of a lamp on the postcard.

  3. Select the Rectangle tool () in the Tools panel. Position the pointer anywhere in the artboard, and click and drag down and to the right. As you drag, notice the gray tool tip that appears indicating width and height. Drag until the rectangle is approximately 1.5 in wide and has a height of 1 in, as seen in the tool tip next to the cursor.
  4. As you drag to create shapes, the tool tip that appears next to the pointer is called the measurement label and is a part of the Smart Guides (View > Smart Guides), which will be discussed later in this lesson. When you release the mouse button, the rectangle is selected and the Transform panel appears. From the Transform panel, you can change the appearance of your Live Rectangle, including its dimensions, rotation, and corner properties. The center point of the rectangle lets you drag to align the object with other elements in your artwork. Also, by default, shapes are filled with a white color and have a black stroke (border). A shape with a fill can be selected and moved by first positioning the pointer anywhere inside the shape and then clicking and dragging.

    After drawing a shape, you can easily edit its size, position, and more using any number of methods.

  5. In the Transform panel, change the size of the selected object by typing 0.9 for the width (W:) and 0.35 for the height (H:). Typing the in for inches isn’t necessary; it is added automatically.
  6. Change the X value to 4.9 and the Y value to 3.6 to move the rectangle relative to the upper-left corner of the artboard. Press Enter or Return after typing in the Y value to accept it.
  7. With the new rectangle still selected, click the Fill color () in the Control panel to open the Swatches panel. When you position the pointer over colors in the panel, a tool tip with the color name appears. We chose a yellow/green swatch with the tool tip that shows “C=20 M=0 Y=100 K=0.” Press the Escape key to hide the Swatches panel.
  8. Next, you will create another rectangle by entering values (like Width and Height) rather than by drawing it. Using any of the shape tools, you can either draw a shape or click on the artboard with a shape tool selected to enter values in a dialog box. This rectangle will become another part of the lamp.

  9. With the Rectangle tool still selected, position the pointer above the rectangle you drew on the artboard and click.
  10. The Rectangle dialog box appears. In the Rectangle dialog box, the width and height values that you see match the last shape drawn.

  11. In the Rectangle dialog box, change the Width to 0.6 in, press the Tab key, and change the Height to 0.1. Click OK.
  12. Notice that the new rectangle has the same fill color and stroke as the previous shape you drew.

  13. Select the Selection tool () in the Tools panel. Drag the new rectangle about halfway up the artboard, above the first rectangle you drew.
  14. This is just to get the shape out of the way of some new shapes you will be creating.

  15. With the new rectangle still selected, click the Fill color in the Control panel to open the Swatches panel. Choose the yellow swatch with the tool tip that shows “C=5 M=0 Y=90 K=0.” Press the Escape key to hide the Swatches panel.

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020