The Adobe CS5 Illustrator Shape Builder Tool

Adobe Creative Suite (Adobe CS5) Illustrator has introduced a new tool, shape builder. This new tool is an interactive tool for creating complex shapes by the merging and erasing of simple shapes. You can also break and edit overlapping shapes and intuitively fill those in-process shapes with color using the Live Paint Bucket tool.

  1. Create several overlapping shapes.

  2. Select the shapes that you want to combine.

  3. Select the Shape Builder tool and then click and drag across the selected shapes.

    The selected shapes are combined into one shape.

    Create several shapes in order to use the Shape Builder tool.
    Create several shapes in order to use the Shape Builder tool.

    The Shape Builder tool also enables merging objects, breaking overlapping shapes, subtracting areas, and more.

  4. Create another shape that overlaps your new combined shape.

  5. Using the Selection tool, select both shapes.

  6. Select the Shape Builder tool again.

  7. Hold down the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) key and click and drag across the newly added shape.

    It is subtracted from the underlying shape.

    Use the Shape Builder tool to subtract from another shape.
    Use the Shape Builder tool to subtract from another shape.

    Coloring fills and strokes is easier now, too. When you’re finished making your shape, you can use the hidden Live Paint Bucket tool to intuitively fill your shape with color.

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