Illustrator Geometric Drawing has several tools for drawing simple geometric shapes, whose combination and transformation can give you very interesting drawings.

Illustrator Geometric drawing. The tools we will work with in this tutorial are divided into those that make closed vector objects (Vector Shapes) and those that make open vector objects, ie vector paths (Vector Paths). For each tool, you can set certain parameters before and during the drawing, either in their windows with additional options or via keyboard shortcuts. They all work on the same basis: select the drawing tool and start drawing by dragging the mouse on the desktop while holding its left button. The moment you release the mouse, you have created the final shape, which does not mean that you cannot further edit it.

Vector objects

The tools for creating vector objects in Illustrator are:

  • Rectangle Tool (M) – forms rectangular and square shapes.
  • Rounded Rectangle Tool – forms rounded rectangular and square shapes.
  • Ellipse Tool (L) – forms ellipses and circles.
  • Polygon Tool – forms one-sided shapes with 3 or more pages.
  • Star Tool – forms stars, ie star shapes.

All are hidden in the Rectangle Tool submenu at the top of the ToolBox. The Flare Tool, a tool found in a group with them, is used to draw glare.

You can use all of these tools in two ways.

  1. The first is if, after selecting the desired tool, you just click once with the mouse within the desktop at the place where you want the upper left corner of the object you are creating or the center of the object. Click to open the Width & Height Dialog Box of your vector object. If you want the place where you click to be not the corner of the object, but its center, hold Alt and click on the desired place for the center of the object. The same Dialog Box for entering parameters will open.
The geometric body specification window opens with a single click on the desktop. Illustrator Geometric drawing
The geometric body specification window opens with a single click on the desktop

2. Another way is to, by selecting the desired tool, left-click, and then, holding it, drag and thereby visually determine the size of the object you are creating, but now with the help of keyboard shortcuts you can control what you do.

  • Shift – with the help of this keyboard shortcut, everything you form will have the correct shape, that is. the rectangle will become a square, the ellipse a circle, and with a polygon you will align the bottom page of the object horizontally, while with a star the two lower arms will be aligned in a horizontal line.
  • Alt – with the help of this keyboard shortcut, everything you create will not be made from a certain angle (depending on where you drag the mouse cursor while forming it), but from the center, which means that the place where you started forming will be the center of the object.
  • Space – while holding down the left mouse button, you can always switch to the Hand Tool by holding Space on the keyboard and thus have the ability to change the position of the shape you are forming.
  • Tilde (~) – with this keyboard shortcut, while holding down the left mouse button, you can make copies of the shape you are forming. By dragging the mouse with these copies, you can resize and thus get an interesting final shape formed from many of the same paths.
  • Keyboard Navigation Arrows – While holding down the left mouse button and forming a shape, the Rounded Rectangle tool works by increasing the radius of the rounded corner with the up arrow, decreasing the radius down, undoing the left and restarting the radius with the right. Only the up arrow increases the number of pages and the down arrow decreases on the Polygon tool; the same goes for stars only that you increase / decrease the arms instead of the pages.
  • Ctrl – only acts on star formation while holding down the left mouse button, adjusting the distance between the beginning and end of the arm.

Vector paths

The tools for forming vector paths, ie open vector paths are:

  • Line Segment Tool (/) – forms lines,
  • Arc Tool – forms arcs,
  • Spiral Tool – forms spirals,
  • Rectangular Grid Tool – forms a rectangular grid,
  • Polar Grid Tool – forms a round grid.

Illustrator Geometric drawing. All are hidden in the Line Tool submenu, next to the Rectangle Tool (or above if the tools are in a single row) in the ToolBox.

Select line segment tool and below option. Illustrator Geometric drawing
Select line segment tool and below option

Illustrator Geometric drawing. You can use all of these tools in two ways:

1. The first is, if you select the desired tool, you just click once with the mouse within the desktop at the place where you want the beginning of the path you are creating. Clicking opens the Dialog Box for adjusting the length and angle at which the Length of the vector path will be located (the offered unit of measure is the basic one you set at the beginning, but you can always change it in Options or Ruler, or add a measure with the abbreviation of the measure). units that Illustrator will convert directly to the current unit of measure). If you want the place where you click not to be the beginning of the path, but its center, hold Alt and click on the desired place for the center of the path. The same Dialog Box for entering parameters will open.

2.Another way is to, by selecting the desired tool, left-click, and then, holding it, drag and thereby visually determine the size of the path you are creating, but now with the help of keyboard shortcuts you can control what you do.

  • Shift – holding down the Shift key, everything you form will have the correct shape. You will draw the line and the spirals by rotating them by exactly 45 degrees. In arcs, the X and Y axes are the same, thus forming a regular part of a circle of a certain radius.
  • Alt – with this keyboard shortcut, the place you clicked to start forming the path will be the center, not the beginning of the path.
  • Space – while holding down the left mouse button, you can always switch to the Hand Tool by holding Space on the keyboard and thus have the ability to change the position of the path you are forming.
  • Tilde (~) – With this keyboard shortcut, while holding down the left mouse button, you can make copies of the path you are creating. By dragging these copies with the mouse, you can resize and get an interesting final shape formed from many of the same paths.
  • Arrows to navigate the keyboard
    • Up arrow – always increases the trajectory segments, with the arc (Arc) increases the angle of inclination, while the Line Tool does not work.
    • Down Arrow – always reduces the number of trajectory segments, reduces the angle of inclination at the arc, while not acting on the Line Tool.
    • Right Arrow and Left Arrow – only work on grids, while up and down arrows increase / decrease the number of rows, with the help of these two you increase / decrease the number of columns in the grid
  • Ctrl – acts only to form a spiral while holding down the left mouse button, increasing the spacing of the spiral line.
  • C – acts on Arc, closing it with straight lines, thus forming a shape.
  • X – acts on the Arc, shifting the arc to the opposite side of the axis.
  • F – acts on Arc, changing the values of the X and Y axes.

Illustrator Geometric drawing. Vector Paths & Anchor Points Once you have mastered the tools for creating basic geometric shapes and paths, we should study what makes them. When you make one vector path like a regular line, the result is a Path – a path whose beginning and end are determined by two points at the ends. That point is the Anchor Point. The conclusion is as follows: the vector path obtained by the Line Tool is made up of one path (Path) and two anchor points (Anchor Points) that determine its beginning and end. In the case when we form a vector object with the Rectangle tool, like a rectangle, the result is a Vector Object – a vector object, which is determined by four anchor points at the corners and a central point. To make this clearer to you, imagine that you nailed four nails to the wall, and then tied each of them in a row with string to form a rectangle of string. The nails in this case would be the anchor points, the rope a vector path determined directly by the typed nails, the thickness of the rope is in Illustrator Stroke, while everything on the wall is within the boundaries of the rope in Illustrator Fill.

Closed and open vector paths
Closed and open vector paths
Fill and contour of a vector object
Fill and contour of a vector object

You are now able to move each of these nails somewhere within the wall and thus change the look of both the path and the fill inside it. In the continuation of the course, you will see that we move individual anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (tool – white arrow), while the entire square with all four nails on the wall, rope and filling would be moved using the Selection Tool (tool – black arrow). Also, imagine that you have control over bending the rope when it approaches the nail and also when it goes from one to the other (you will do this with the help of Bezier handles, which we will process in drawing with the Pen tool, through which you have complete control over the appearance of the object or trajectory, number of anchor points and curved trajectory between two or more anchor points controlled by the handles). Knowing this, you will now look at and think about vector paths and shapes totally differently.

Hierarchical order of stacking objects – Object Stacking Order

Illustrator Geometric drawing. Now that you’ve learned how we create objects in Illustrator, and what it is that makes a single vector path or shape, you need to understand how Illustrator places new objects within the page you’re working on. Each new item you draw is added to existing objects according to predefined Illustrator standards. This is called a hierarchical order of objects. What you need to understand is that the new object that was placed over the existing lower one does not delete or disturb it, but comes through it, as if they were arranged in layers, which means that, although the new object is placed, e.g. over what has already been done, we can move it and thus make visible the one that was below, it does not disturb their order. In case they match in the drawing, the one we made last will always be on top (unless you choose a different setting or if the active layer is below). We can always adjust this overlapping layout to suit us best. If we have two circles and two squares with fillings that match each other, they are placed according to the standard in the order in which we formed them. The first one we made is at the bottom, while the last one was made at the top and the whole is visible. If we want to change their stacking schedule, we will select the object whose position we want to modify, and right-click on it. From the Arrange submenu we will select the desired move, and we can also select the same for the selected object from the Object> Arrange drop-down menu in the Menu Bar:

  • Bring to Front (Shift + Ctrl +]) – will move the object to the very top of the stacking order and thus make the object visible in its entirety.
  • Bring Forward (Ctrl +]) – will move the object in the stack order hierarchy above the first object over it.
  • Send Backward (Crtl + [) – will move the object in the stack order hierarchy below the first object below it.
  • Send to Back (Shift + Ctrl + [) – will move the object to the bottom as the last to be visible when they overlap.

It would be best to look at all the objects as if they were layers to themselves, arranged on top of each other, even though they are all actually in the same layer (we talked about layers in the last lesson). When we create separate layers (Layers), each of them will have a separate hierarchical order of stacking objects.

Geometric shapes in an illustrator
Geometric shapes in an illustrator

Illustrator Geometric drawing. The picture shows a selected, green object – at the top. The first one below is a red object, then it goes yellow, while behind them, at the bottom, there is a gray rectangle.

That is why, from the CS5 version, there is one new option in the form of drawing modes – Drawing Modes. You can find them at the bottom of the Tool Box and activate them from there, ie. enter another drawing mode. We distinguish 3 ways of drawing:

  • Draw Behind – each new vector path or object you draw, in this Mode will be placed in the hierarchy of the order of stacking objects as the last, ie. background in the active layer, so you don’t have to draw it and then switch manually.
  • Draw Inside – can only be activated if an object has been previously selected. Activating it allows everything you draw to be visible only within the selected object (Clipping Mask). If in the order of arranging objects the object you selected was overlapped in a certain part with the object above it, this Drawing Mode allows everything you draw to be overlaid in a logical sequence, as if you drew what you drew yourself just above the selected one with the help of Arrange. an object within which you have drawn something new. To make it easier for you, Illustrator, when selecting the object in which we want our drawing to appear, Illustrator will frame the object and add dashed lines at the corners to tell what you draw. The object in which we draw is in fact a Clipping Mask to everything we draw within it and that is why the result of visibility is such

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