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:
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.
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.
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)).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.