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Illustrator 11 – Using the Shape Builder Tool

The Shape Builder Tool is a versatile and powerful tool that allows you to combine and subtract shapes quickly and intuitively. It is a great tool for creating complex shapes and working with overlapping objects. Let’s learn how to use the Shape Builder Tool:

Selecting the Shape Builder Tool

The Shape Builder Tool (shortcut: Shift + M) is located in the Tools panel, typically grouped with the Live Paint Bucket and Live Paint Selection tools.

Combining Shapes

To subtract shapes using the Shape Builder Tool, ensure that the shapes you want to subtract overlap, with one shape entirely or partially covering the other.

Select the Shape Builder Tool and hold down the “Alt” (Option on Mac) key.

Click and drag over the areas you want to subtract. As you drag, the selected areas will be highlighted with a minus (-) sign, indicating subtraction.

Release the mouse button, and the selected areas will be subtracted from the overlapping shape.

You can continue to click and drag over additional areas to subtract them from the same shape.

Non-Destructive Editing

The Shape Builder Tool allows for non-destructive editing. That means the original shapes are not permanently altered; they are only visually combined or subtracted.

If you need to edit the original shapes or modify the combined shape, you can simply use the Direct Selection Tool (shortcut: A) to select and adjust the anchor points and paths.

Cleaning Up the Result

After using the Shape Builder Tool to combine or subtract shapes, you may notice overlapping or unnecessary anchor points.

To clean up the result, use the Delete Anchor Point Tool (Shift + D) to remove any unwanted anchor points and optimize the path.

The Shape Builder Tool in Adobe Illustrator is an efficient way to create complex shapes by combining and subtracting basic shapes. It provides a flexible and non-destructive workflow, allowing you to easily refine your artwork and achieve precise results.



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