In my second Illustrator Tutorial we will be looking at shapes, and how to manipulate them. I will go ahead and make us a new file, and then lets take a quick look at the tool bar once again.
We talked about the the selection arrows, and pen tools in the last tutorial, and those will probably always be your most used tools. Today we are going to focus on two new tools however, the “Shape Tool” and “Text Tool”. We will use these to make a simple logo plate.
You might noticed that the tool bar is subdivided, this is done to basically split tool groups apart. The top grouping is selection tools, the second section is creation tools, the third section is manipulation tools, the fourth is colors/effects, the fifth is inserts, and the last contains web/finishing tools. The Very Last section deals with the line/object you currently have selected, I will go a bit more into that this tutorial as well.
For now we are going to focus on section two, which contains our creation based tools. In order you have: The Pen Tool, the Text Tool, the Line Tool, the Shape Tool, Paintbrush, Pencil Tool, Blob Tool, and Eraser. Our goal is to learn how to use the Shape Tool, and then the Text Tool.
The Shape Tool looks like an oval on this picture, but just like the Pen Tool it has a carrot in the bottom right hand corner indicating that there are some nested tools hidden from view by default. Let’s take a look at all those now.
The Ellipse Tool was the last shape tool I used, and as you can see it is marked with a black bullet point. But we have a few other potential shapes!
The Rectangle Tool makes rectangles. Rounded Rectangle Tool is a rectangle with “soft” or rounded edges. Ellipse Tool makes Ellipse’s (Circles/Ovals). The Polygon Tool will make Polygons, and the Star Tool makes star shapes.
The Polygon, Flare, and Star Tools are a bit more complicated, and get their own tutorial. But back to basics, after all we need to know how to crawl before we run!
We will look at the Rectangle Tool as a good base from how all the rest work.
Click on a point and drag to make a rectangle of your desired size, just like with the Pen Tool, we get this ghost projection of what the shape “will” look like once we release the mouse button.
Now we can make a Square too, just like with the Pen Tool, holding down the Shift Key, constrains the Shape Tool as well. In this case it makes a Square.
Once again we get the blue ghost projection. With the Selection Tool (Black Arrow) we will do some quick manipulations, in the image below I grabbed the shape, and dragged the right edge line out converting my square back into a rectangle. With the Direct Selection Tool, you can grab points and lines and move them with more freedom.You can use the Selection Tool on a shape holding down Shift, again constraining the shape in proportion, this way you can easily re-size the selected object. Try it out! The Ellipse tool works much the same, select it, click a point and drag. We get the projected line, and without holding down Shift, we just get an oval.Again if we do hold down shift you can constrain the shape into a true circle. Just like with the Pen Tool there is an almost endless potential with these shapes. The Rounded Corner Rectangle Tool is fun to play with but follows the same rules! Polygons, Stars, and Flares have lots of options, and I will cover them in my next tutorial.
But a lot of these rules are universal, so nab a shape, and play around get comfortable with all the possibilities, and then we can talk about making something!
Now we are going to clean up our work space, grabbing the Selection Tool you can select a shape and delete it with the “Delete” or “Backspace” key. But what if you have a few shapes like we do? Well you can click and drag with the selection tool to select multiple objects, or you can select one shape, and holding “ctrl” click on other objects/shapes to add them to that selection.
Now with everything selected, except for the oval shape I want to move forward with, I can hit “Delete” and clean up my work space quickly. Now lets look at the top bar once again. Just like with the line we manipulated last Tutorial, we have a bunch of Shape specific options. Once again the first two boxes, are the fill color and line color selectors, and the next option is Stroke.
We skipped over Stroke last time but now we want it. Stroke determines how “thick” the path around the shape is. As you can see we are increasing the Stroke of this line to 6pt.(points) Don’t worry about the rest of the bar in this tutorial. With the Stroke Increased we start having some sort of design taking shape. Next we are going to select the shape again and make a copy of it. This is pretty easy “crtl + C” copies the images.
“ctrl + V” Pastes a copy of the object into the work space. Now I just reduce the Stroke back to 1pt, and align the two ovals so the new, smaller stroked object is in the center of the other.
In Illustrator CS3 and above, neon green Alignment Guides Automatically appear to help you line it up! This is an awesome cheat, but if you don’t have that, just align it by eye.
There are some advanced tricks for Alignment that we will get to later. For now lets move to the Type Tool. As with the other Tools there is a mess of hidden tools for typing. But all we care about right now is the Type Tool itself.(More on the others next time!)
Just like Microsoft Word, Notepad, or any other text based program the Type Tool gives you the blinking cursor, click anywhere inside the shape and you can type, just like you are using a word processor.
Now I am going to play around a show you a few “Advanced” Type Tool steps that we will go over next time. As you can see I have decided to type “TheGrav” and then I have brought up the Character Window. You can find this by going to Window>Type>Character or using the Hot-key “Ctrl + T” I have selected the font Sansation, and increased the size so we can make something. Again I have basically aligned the text in the center of both ovals.
Now we have two boring white ovals, and some text… lets change it up. Remember the Very bottom section of the Tool Bar? That’s where we are headed!
So we basically have a big solid box, and a thick stroke box. In this case the “Stroke” box is on top. What theses control is the “Fill” and “Stroke” color of your object. Currently I have the text selected which does not have a Stroke at all, hence the white with red slash, and a black fill. The box on the top is the box you are currently manipulating, but by clicking on the box behind you give it priority. You can also click the funky double sided arrow up top.
This however does two things, it switches which you are working on “Fill” or “Stroke” but it also switches there values. In this case, my stroke would become black, and my fill you become empty/clear. Now selecting our inner oval, and going down to this box, that is what we are going to do.
Next I am going to use the Selection Tool to click where I know the text is, in the middle of the Oval. (I also used the Selection Tool to reshape the inner oval a bit) Once I have the text selected I am going to return to the very bottom box and double click the fill color box, which brings up the color selector.
Now we just select a color we want. With the Color Picker Illustrator uses the Eye Dropper method, basically a small circular selector that you drag and drop on the color you want. I choose white. You can also choose to use RGB Values, Hex Codes, CMYK Values and play with hue, saturation, and Balance… we will get back to all those late.
Hit okay, The text turns white and we get this:
As always remember to play around and make as big a mess as you can! Illustrator is a lot about becoming comfortable with the tools.
Be sure to follow my blog for more Tutorials in Illustrator, and ask any questions you might have!