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Start Creating Basic Shapes

Lesson 3 from: Infographic Elements from Scratch in Illustrator

Jason Hoppe

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Lesson Info

3. Start Creating Basic Shapes

Next Lesson: Edit Basic Shapes

Lesson Info

Start Creating Basic Shapes

With the other shapes that we have here, couple tricks that we have, going in, and, if you wanna draw any of these shapes, circle, square, or a rounded rectangle or square, you can go in and, if you wanna draw a perfect square, circle, or a straight line, whenever I draw with any of these shapes here, one of the things I can do is hold down my Shift key. When I'm drawing anything, Shift will always constrain. So if I hold down my Shift key, you'll see that I will get a perfect square. Let go of the Shift key and I can draw any type of square or rectangle that I want. Shift will constrain. So if I draw a circle, hold down Shift, Shift is gonna constrain. If I draw a straight line, Shift is gonna constrain. If I don't hold down the Shift key, I can get any shape or any angle of line, but holding the Shift key will guarantee me perfect circle, perfect square, as I go. So, rounded rectangle. This is always good. A lot of things we wanna round. Rounded rectangle, I draw my shape. And you'll...

notice in the lower right hand corner when I'm drawing these shapes, I get what's called a Tool Hint. And this is showing me what size it is, and in this case, what kind of rounded corners I have. Now, I don't use the Tool Hint to get in here and get the size of my object exact. And I see people kind of fussing around. This is just a Tool Hint. Don't use this as something that's... cause you'll spend a lot of time trying to get it exact. If you want an exact size shape, take your tool, click on your page, and enter in the value that you want, and then click Okay. That's gonna provide you with a precise size. Don't try to fight it with the little Tool Hint right there. It's nice, but it's just showing you what's going on. One of the things with the rounded corner box that I really like is being able to go in and draw with the rounded corner box, but as I'm drawing here, I would like to see more rounded corners. And, so when I draw, I'm looking at this and, I don't really know what a 12-point rounded corner really looks like. It tells me this is a 12-point corner. Okay. But I would like a more rounded corner on this. I could always draw the shape, and then afterwards I could go in and I could change the rounded corners. But when I'm drawing, if I would like to change the corners while I'm drawing, I can draw my shape, keep the mouse held down so I'm still in Drawing Mode, and if I use my up-arrow, you'll that I can increase the radius of my corners. And you see my Tool Hint there, is actually showing me, it's doing it in one point increments, up or down, and so I can adjust it so I can visually see what it is that I want. But you have to keep the mouse held down. If you let go of the mouse and you start using your arrows, up or down, you will literally just move the object up or down. So that's one of the tricks of building the basic shapes there. We can visually see what those corners look like. We can always adjust them after, but it's nice to get the corners to look like what we want, right when we're drawing. So we talked about a circle, we can draw an oval. Of course, hold down our Shift key. Shift is gonna constrain with our circle as well. And you'll notice that, when I'm done with my shapes, I just delete them, and I literally am just going in and hitting the Delete key to get rid of them. Our polygon tool. We can draw with our polygon multi-sided tool, and also with this one, just like with our rounded corners, if we would like to change the number of sides while we're drawing, up-arrow will increase the number of sides, down-arrow decreases the number of sides as well. And, also, if we hold down our Shift key, that's gonna constrain it so we will have a flat side that's going to be parallel with our base line. So we can draw the shape and turn it, but in the end, I'd like to have a flat side. I can hold down my Shift key and then let go, and that's gonna constrain it to the horizontal or the vertical, which is nice to have. Again, when I'm drawing, up-arrow, down-arrow, there we have it. And a lot of people try to draw triangles manually, and I've shown a lot of people this and they're just like, you know, I wish they had a triangle-drawing tool. Well, folks, let me tell you the basics of drawing shapes. A triangle is a three-sided shape. We have a square, we have a pentagon, we have a hexagon, and there are so many people who are like, "Get out! You can draw triangles?" Yes. Polygon tool. Back it down until you get to your three sides. Hold down your Shift key so that the base of the triangle will be flat, and then you can let go, and now you have a triangle. One interesting thing with a polygon tool is, once you go ahead and set a shape, that shape becomes the default every time you use the polygon tool. If you would like to call up the dialog box for the polygon tool, and manually enter in the information, you click on the polygon tool, click on the page, and this allows you to go in and set the radius, which is from the center point to the outside edge, and then, of course, the number of sides, and you get your shape. But, it's nice to draw. Up-arrow, down-arrow is going to control the number of sides. Triangles come in really handy all the time. We're going to use that as one of our basic building blocks. Okay. Our star tool. Draw with a star. Again, click and drag with the star. We can also use our up and down arrows. Up-arrow is going to go ahead and give us more points. Down-arrow is going to take those points away. And then here's the tricky one, folks. If you're on a Mac, you're gonna hold your Command key down. And with the Command key held down, if you drag your cursor into, or toward the center of the object, the points will be lessened. If you drag away from the center of the object, then you're gonna get much more spiky points. So, Command on the Mac. Control on the PC. Okay? And so you can pull them out, push them in, and it's all from the center of the object. And then more points, less points as you go. Once you set that, that's your default, so every shape that you draw from that point on is going to have those same attributes. If you want to set the dialog box, you can take the Star tool, click on your page, and then it gives you the Radius 1 and Radius 2. There's no preview button here, which is what makes it a little bit annoying so you can't really see what it's doing, but to show you what this actually is, with the star here, Radius 1 is from the center point to your farthest tip, and Radius 2 is from the center point to your closest tip. Okay? I'm a visual person, and this doesn't mean very much to me. So, going in and manually drawing, dragging in or out, holding the Command key down, and then using your up and down arrows, is a whole lot easier. But if you wanna have it be specific, you certainly can by just taking the tool, clicking on the page, and calling up the dialog box. That's true with any of the drawing tools. So, those are our basic tools. Rectangle, rounded rectangle, oval, circle, ellipse, polygon, and then star tool. Right there. Those are the basic shapes that we're gonna use to build everything. Absolutely everything. Jumping over to our line tools here, line segment right there. Click and drag and, of course, hold down your Shift key to constrain horizontally, vertically, or at a 45 degree angle, whenever you're drawing. Works great. Our arc tool. If you ever wanna draw a quarter circle, you certainly can. Hold down your Shift key, and that's gonna give you a perfect quarter-circle. And this is interesting 'cause some people will draw this and they're like, "Oh, I want it to go another way." Well, here it is folks. This is how it works. When you click, that's your basic anchor point. So if you want it to go left, then you're gonna drag left. If you want it to go down, you can drag it down. If you want it to go the right, you can drag it to the right. Some people draw this and then end up flipping it over or rotating it, and it's like, you can go any direction that you want. Of course, if you hold down your Shift key, that's going to constrain it to be a perfect quarter-circle. It comes in really handy when we do our little highlight noodles. We're gonna get to that, 'cause that's cool. The spiral tool is interesting, 'cause this allows you to create, like, a carpet roll or a jelly roll or a cinnamon roll, like that, and you've got your... You can pull, and it kind of looks like a nice little nautilus shell right there. You can also click on the spiral, and then take your cursor, click on the artboard. and this will allow you to control which direction that you go. And then they have these things like Radius, Decay, and Segments, all that other stuff. What this means, really simply, 10 segments are 10 quarter-circles, so one, two, three, four, five, six, nn, you can count all the way to ten. That's what the segments mean. The Decay means every time it goes around in a complete circle, that this decay is going to be, basically, every time it goes around, it's going to be reduced by 20%. Okay? So, a faster number, or a faster decay here, meaning, well, I'll show you. Let me go ahead and draw that. But it can decay faster or slower. You can have a really tight roll, or you can have one that decays really quickly. So, when I'm drawing with this tool here, I can use the up-arrow to give me more segments, and down-arrow to take the segments away. This will work. And then, if I hold down my Command key, and the trick with this is to move just a little bit, okay? I'm moving the mouse very little. And you can see with my Command key held down, if I move it just a little bit, I can control how fast or how slow that decay works. If I pull it way out here, that's going to be a faster decay, meaning a lower number. If I go and I do a slower decay by holding my Command key and pulling in, that's going to be a larger number and a slower decay. But that's the difference between the decay rate right there. I can't stress enough when people do this. When you hold down your Command key and you pull in our out, I'm moving the mouse very, very, very little, okay? 'Cause some people grab it and go across the whole document and all of a sudden it goes like this and you freak out. Very little movement, folks, okay? Very little movement. And that gives you your decay and your spiral. The grid-tool. You draw and you get a perfect grid. Of course, if you hold down your Shift key, you're going to get perfect squares. Up-arrow is going to give you more rows. Right-arrow gives you more columns. Down-arrow gives you less. Left-arrow gives you less as well. Shift key is going to constrain so that the overall shape is going to be a perfect square. Works pretty good. If you ever wanna make a fly swatter, awesome. We're almost done. The polar grid tool is this. Not sure why it's called the polar grid, but it probably has something to do with the earth. Anyways, you get this, and I call this the stove-burner tool, or the Spiderman tool. Yeah? And with this, up-arrow gives me more concentric rings. Down-arrow gives me less. And this is all while I'm holding my mouse key down. So up and down gives me concentric rings. Right arrows give me division. Left arrows will go ahead and take those divisions away. If I click, this is what my polar grid options look like. The width and height of the shape. The number of of concentric dividers here. One, two, three, four, five lines here. It does not count the outside shape as one of the dividers. And then you can go ahead and you can skew this in our out. But the problem is is that there's no, there's no preview on this, so you really don't see what's going on, and then you can go ahead and do your radial dividers as well. And, so you gotta click on this, set this whole thing. I like to draw it and visually see how this works. Again, if I want a perfect circle, I hold down my Shift key. If I don't hold down my Shift key, I will get an oval when I'm drawing this. This also is really cool too. If you ever wanna do a stove-top something-or-other, that's you're electric stove-top burner right there. Spiderweb, absolutely. Concentric circles, oh yeah. You got it made. You want five circles, so you have a circle that's filled and one that's not and one that is, this is the perfect tool for it. Why go in and draw every single one. You've got all your tools. Right there. So those are the basic shapes that we have. You'll see me keep deleting these things, and I go over to my selection tool here, which is the tool that we're going to use to move, rotate, shape, scale, whatever it is, on all my objects. And so with my selection tool, I can select my objects, and of course, just hit the Delete key to get rid of them. So, really simple things when we get into just the basic building blocks of objects. Circles, squares, ovals, everything else, all right there.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Infographic Assortment

Ratings and Reviews

Patricia Green

This class is so much fun! I gobbled it up because I enjoyed every minute. It begins my journey into infographics, something I intend to put in my portfolio. Jason Hoppe is a great instructor who really knows his stuff. If you want to have fun with Illustrator, this is the class for you!


I bought the first version of the course of Infographics and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to use Illustrator. Exactly as he explains in the video, this is not a course just to learn how to make graphics. At the end of the course you will be able to develop just about anything in Illustrator. Really! All the knowledge I have today of this tool, started from this course of Infographics to which he refers. Not only the content is comprehensive, but Jason is a great teacher, explaining everything very, very simply. I'm looking forward to watching this update.


Jason, you ROCK! I learned a lot of things during this class. Thank you for being such a great teacher and taking time to share your knowledge. Will continue to purchase your classes. Sandra

Student Work