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Aug 11

4 simple shapes in Illustrator

2008 at 09.40 am posted by Veerle Pieters

Starting with simple shapes as a basis for your design can give you surprising results. By trying to apply them in a creative way and by experimenting you can end up with an amazing design. Today I’ll show you how to draw 4 simple shapes fast and easy. I’m thinking of the perfect wave line, the perfect heart shape, the perfect water drop and a diamond shape. They seem very easy to draw at first sight, though maybe you’ll learn a few tricks on how certain things can be done easier, faster or maybe just more prefect or natural.

The perfect wave line

I could just use the Pen tool and start drawing my line, but I'm thinking, I have all these effects and filters. There should be a way to do this easy and fast with perfection. I'm sure there are other ways or filters where you can achieve the same result, but here is mine:

create the perfect wave line in Illustrator

Start by selecting the Line Tool from the Toolbox and draw a straight horizontal line. Click and drag the line while holding down the Shift Key.

create the perfect wave line in Illustrator

With the line still selected go to Object > Path and select Add Anchor Points from the submenu. Do this again a 2nd time. Your line should have 4 points in total now.

create the perfect wave line in Illustrator

Now go to Effects > Distort & Transform > Twist. In the window check the Preview checkbox and enter 25 degrees as angle. I usually expand my effect from here. Go to Object > Expand. Then you also need to ungroup once (Object > Ungroup or Cmd/Ctrl. + Shift + G)).

create the perfect wave line in Illustrator

Then I also expand the shape to several waves in 1 line by duplicating the segment and joining both segments. Make sure you have Smart Guides (Cmd./Ctrl. + U) turned on. Select the Selection Tool (black arrow), select wave and start dragging it to the right, now hold down Shift Key and Option/Alt Key. Select the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) and drag a rectangle selection around the 2 intersecting anchor points. Join both anchor point by hitting Cmd./Ctrl. + J or go to Object > Path > Join.

The perfect drop shape

Here I could just draw the left part of the drop and then use the Reflection Tool and duplicate this part to the right, join the anchor points and Bob's you uncle, but this wouldn't give me the *perfect* drop shape. I would kinda look more like an onion and too symmetrical and I don't want that. I want a perfect water drop which means a more natural shape.

create the perfect drop shape

Start by drawing a circle. Select the Ellipse Tool from the toolbox and drag a circle holding down the Shift Key. Make sure Smart Guides are turned on and make sure the Rulers are visible (Cmd./Ctrl. + R or go to View > Show Rulers). Drag vertical guides from the left ruler to the left, middle and right point of the circle. It should snap to the points when you come close. Select the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) and drag a rectangle selection around the top point of the circle to select it. Hit the Delete Key to delete the top fragment of the circle path.

create the perfect drop shape

Select the Pen Tool from the Toolbox. Click drag upwards in the left point of the open circle shape. Hold down the Shift Key to drag perfectly vertical upwards. Now do the same for the next point as shown in the image above to the right: click drag while holding down the Shift Key.

create the perfect drop shape

Now we need to create a corner anchor point from this bezier curve for the point of the drop. We do this by holding down the Alt/Option Key first and then click in the anchor point you've just created and drag downwards a bit to the right as shown in the image on the left. Do not release the mouse while clicking, just click and drag like before. Click in the right anchor point of the circle while dragging vertically upwards, again hold down the Shift Key.

The perfect heart shape

Same as with the drop shape I could create 1 half and reflect while duplicating it to the right, but I want a more natural heart shape, which means a tiny bit drawing work again like before. Same as with the drop, we start again with a circle, but this time we delete the bottom half of the circle.

create the perfect heart shape

Again make sure Smart Guides are turned on and Rulers are shown. Drag a vertical guide from the left Rulers to the right anchor point of our half circle.

create the perfect heart shape

Select the Selection Tool (black arrow) and select the half circle shape. Click in the left anchor point, hold down the mouse to start immediate dragging to the right, hold down the Shift Key to drag perfectly horizontal and hold down the Alt/Option Key to duplicate the shape while dragging. When you intersect the right anchor point of the circle shape, you should feel it snapping and see the word intersection appearing on the horizontal smart guide. Release the mouse at that point (as shown in the image above on the right).

create the perfect heart shape

Now select the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) and drag a rectangle around the intersecting anchor points of the 2 open circles to select both. Now join both anchor points, hit Cmd./Ctrl. + J or go to Object > Path > Join.

create the perfect heart shape

Now select the Pen Tool again from the Toolbox and click the most left anchor point of the shape, hold down the Shift Key while dragging perfectly vertically downwards. Do the same for the second anchor point as shown in the image to the right above.

create the perfect heart shape

Now we need to create the same corner anchor point like we did for the drop shape. So we hold down the Alt/Option Key again first and then we click in the anchor point while dragging, but this time upwards a bit to the right as shown in the image on the left above. To close the heart shape we click in anchor point, again while holding down the Shift Key we drag perfectly vertical upwards as shown above in the right image.

The perfect diamond shape

This is one is very easy to do and I believe perfect symmetry is fine for this shape, though we won't use the reflection tool.

create the perfect diamond shape

Start by drawing a perfect square. Select the Rectangle Tool from the Toolbox. Drag a rectangle while holding down the shift key. Now select the Selection Tool (black arrow) and hover the mouse on the bottom right anchor point of the rectangle and move the mouse a bit lower to the right from this point so you get the rotation icon. Now start dragging the mouse to the left to rotate the square. Hold down the Shift Key to make it rotate a perfect 45°. Release the mouse and leave the object selected.

create the perfect diamond shape

Go to Effects > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat (yep, I can't get enough of this one). Enter the value of -20% and check the Preview option to see the result. Click OK. You can decide to expand the appearance if you like by going to Object > Expand Appearance. If you keep it an effect, you can change its value at all times by double clicking the effect in the Appearance palette.

My final result using these simple shapes

Basic shapes

Sometimes you start with something simple but you end with something rather complex. By trying out different things and by experimenting you can get amazing results. Just let the tools work for you. As you can see I'm still a bit obsessed by patterns. This time I was influenced by old wall paper patterns as you can tell from my color palette here. Hope you have fun with the shapes and remember I can't tell you enough keep experimenting and to try out different things.

Want to learn more?

VECTORTUTS+ Vector Tutorials and More A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.


25served

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permalink this comment Harmen Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11.01 am

Wow! Thanks a lot! Your illustrator skills are fantastic ^^


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permalink this comment V Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11.26 am

Coool. I really needed this!


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permalink this comment Dwight Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11.59 am

Very nice tut!
Ik heb er weer een aantal trucjes bij geleerd, bedankt! :-D


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permalink this comment David Leggett Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 01.20 pm

Very simple explanations!  Thanks Veerle!


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permalink this comment Sören Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 02.15 pm

The hart is really well-scaped. It has been nicely rounded. I wish I had PS-Illu. It seems you can do really cool stuff with it. Nevertheless thanks for this tutorial. I might use it in the near future! Buying a copy of it right now!


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permalink this comment David Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 02.44 pm

Thanks for this, some useful tips here, I frequently find myself floundering around with the pen tool in Illustrator not knowing where I’m going. I guess I spend too much time in photoshop


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permalink this comment Rock Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 04.02 pm

So fresh and sweet and light. The basics are always important, and this is a great display of using the simple tools and goodies in AI. Thanks!


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permalink this comment Thomas Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10.42 pm

Great tutorial, thanks


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permalink this comment Gareth Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 08.56 am

Great tutorial. Really like the heart.


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permalink this comment Cami Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01.03 am

Wow! Great tip, I really needed this!


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permalink this comment Rich Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01.33 pm

Very good job…


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permalink this comment kenny Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10.15 pm

If you look at the negative space in your final image, it looks like to people kissing :)


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permalink this comment Ginger Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 03.04 am

I just recently found your blog, and you remind me why I though it would be fun to be a graphic designer. Thanks for giving me renewed inspiration! I love the depth and opacities.


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permalink this comment jayhan Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 03.22 am

Simple steps to the magic!! Nice one!

For the wave line, you can use Zig Zag too. (Effects > Distort and Transform > Zig Zag…)


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permalink this comment Johannes Henseler Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01.17 pm

your articles are always a lovely boost of inspiration and creative techniques. thank you, veerle! :-)


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permalink this comment Rodrigo Araújo Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 05.17 pm

Thanks! Very nice tutorial! :D


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permalink this comment Simon McArdle Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 07.25 pm

Hi Verle,

You take me back to when I first encountered the pen tool.  I just wish my tutor made it look as simple as you do.  It took me about 2 days to master something simple like this because my teacher was such a bad designer.

Thousands of hours later I’m pretty proficient but just don’t have the hours in the day to give my expertise like you do.  Hats off to you for giving so much.  Keep up the good work.


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permalink this comment Thomas Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10.23 pm

I have to say this was an interesting read, but your last colored image just blew me away. That’s where true skills become obvious ;-)


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permalink this comment Spencer Fry Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 06.36 pm

Very nice tutorial. Nicely explained.


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permalink this comment Noclegi Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 05.47 pm

Great job you’ve made on this tutorial, it helps me with overcoming my problems. Thanks Veerle.

Kind regards
Noclegi


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permalink this comment Lovecolors Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06.36 pm

Thanks, it’s a great tutorial :)


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permalink this comment Mary Fioratti Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04.33 am

Thanks for the great tips and ideas!!


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permalink this comment Niels Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06.35 pm

The shapes are not too difficult but it is good to repeat these basic shapes now and then. Thanks.


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permalink this comment Valeria Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 02.22 pm

Very good job! Very useful to me.
Thank you so much!


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permalink this comment Damien van Holten Tue Sep 2, 2008 at 03.15 pm

Always great reading how you speed up your working methods.



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