Illustrator Shapes

It’s now time to start with a simple look at one of the more complicated but important programs we’ll look at this year, Adobe Illustrator.

Illustrator and Photoshop create and manipulate images in very different ways. In order to understand this, you need to know the difference between RASTER and VECTOR images

Open Illustrator

The first step is to create a new file

Make your file 14 inches wide and 6 inches tall. You can make your document taller later if you need to, but we won’t be able to print/cut any wider than about 14 inches.

Before you even start your work, you should always SAVE your work. In this case, clicking Save (Ctrl + S) OR Save As will do the same thing:

When you save your work, make sure it has a name that reflects the contents. We are making single colour stickers.

Make sure you save your work On your computer.

Hopefully you have already opened OneDrive today. If not, do that now!

Save your work into your OneDrive folder. You might even have a Graphic Tech folder to organize your work (NOT the one with your name on it that you use to hand things in. Only put your work in there when it is DONE)

You don’t need to change anything in this box:

Up on the top right of the Illustrator window, you will be able to choose the way your panels in the program are laid out. You can always change this later. I like my Workspace to be set on Essentials Classic. If you want your screen to look like mine, choose that Workspace. You are free to choose whichever one you like, but keep in mind that your screen will look different than mine.

Up across the top of the screen you will see the program menus. Perhaps the most important one is the Window menu. If you can’t find a panel or want to change your workspace, go there.

There are a couple of ways to look at your primary toolbar. For right now, mine will be set to Basic.

The basic toolbar usually shows up in one column like this:

But if you want, you can change it to two columns with the little arrow at the top:

There are many more tools that you can see by clicking the three dots at the bottom:

The tool we use the most is the Selection Tool. It looks like a grey arrow outlined with white. You can activate it by pressing the letter v on your keyboard:

NOTE: There is another selection tool that we won’t use nearly as often. It’s the one that’s filled in with white. That is the Direct Selection tool, and it works very differently. We’ll ignore that one for now:

The other tools we’ll work with for now are the shape tools. Yours will probably look like a rectangle. You can activate that tool by pressing m on your keyboard:

If you hold your mouse button down on that tool, you’ll see the other shape tools hiding underneath:

If you wish, you can Float those tools by clicking the tiny triangle on the right.

This will pop out a separate panel that you can move around

On the right side of your screen, you will find another super important panel, Properties

Each shape is made up of two parts, the Fill and the Stroke. The Stroke is the outline and the Fill is what’s in the middle.

If I draw a shape with those Properties, my rectangle will have a black outline and will be filled in with white:

To change the Fill, click on the little square next to Fill. Choose a colour to fill your shape in with:

NOTE: We are making stickers that only have ONE colour. The colour you choose here means absolutely nothing. We are going to cut shapes out of coloured vinyl, so the colour of vinyl that you choose will determine the colour that your sticker is. It really does not matter what colour you choose right now.

You could also change the outline by clicking on the Stroke square (swatch)

You could also make that outline thicker or thinner

My rectangle now looks like this:

NOTE: if you want to draw a square instead of a rectangle, hold SHIFT as you drag out your shape:

I really recommend that you turn OFF the Stroke for this assignment. Pick a fill colour and turn the stroke off by choosing the empty white square with the diagonal red line through it:

To move or resize a shape, use the Selection Tool

If you look in one of the corners of a rectangle, you will see a tiny dot. If you click that dot and drag it in, you can round off the corners of your shape:

If you want to rotate a shape, move the Selection tool outside of a corner and click and drag to rotate:

Another interesting tool is the Polygon Tool. This one draws flat sided shapes but you can choose how many sides it has. Choose that tool on either the main or floating tool bar:

If you want, you can double click on your page (the Artboard) to choose how many sides before you draw your shape. You can also choose the size.

OR, you can draw the shape first.

On the right side of the shape, you’ll see a little diamond. Drag that down to add more sides:

Or drag it up to have fewer sides:

For today, just play around and draw something using these simple tools! Feel free to explore and play around. Figure out other tools if you’d like!

If you want to get to know more about Illustrator, you can click on the Help menu and go to Illustrator Help…

Click on Discover how Illustrator artwork is unique

There are many more tutorials that will help you to get to know the program. You can access those from the Help menu, then go into Tutorials…

If you’re looking for a good one to help you get started, click the link below:

Get to know Illustrator tutorial


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