In this tutorial we will be briefly looking at creating non standard vector shapes (shapes that don’t come on the tool menu.). These shapes are essential to master if a designer wishes to create unusual designs and styles. I manly use these techniques for logo marks. I hope to show that by a few simple tricks two boring circles can turn themselves into a sophisticated shape.
We will be working with Adobe Illustrator which is my preference but the process would be very similar in any other vector software. So here we go…
01 – Two Boring Red Circles
Hit the hot key “L” and the ellipse tool will be selected. Drag out a circle using shift (to constrain equal proportions) and alt (to make the circle start from the point which you started from). Then press “v” for the selection tool and drag the circle whilst holding down “alt”. This will duplicate the first circle. Resize it using shift and alt if required. You should get something like this:
02 – Two Black Circles
Create two other circles using the same technique. These two will serve as “cut out” areas. See below:
03 – Blue Circle
Now we are going to create a blue circle which will eventually become simply a “fill in” shape. Draw this circle on the top of the others. Like this:
We then need to send this blue circle to the back of the other circles. You can do this by looking at the layers pallet but I prefer the hot keys which are “option”, “shift” and “[” the effect of which should look like this:
04 – The Subtract or Knock Out “KO”!
Now we are going to use one of the black circles as a knock out shape. Press “V” for the selection tool. Select both the blue and the black circles by holding down the shift key and clicking each one separately. Like this:
Bring up the path finder palette by hitting “shift” and “F9″. The path finder pallet is defiantly worth experimenting with if you are unfamiliar with it. It is one of the most powerful tools of a vector package as it allows you to add to and take away combinations of shapes. We are going to use two of its features in this tutorial. Select the “subtract” option – second from the left as indicated below. Note: this will only work if the two shapes are selected and the one that need to be subtracted is on top.
The result should look like this:
Now hit the Expand button to the right of the pallet which subtracts the shape.
Do the same to the other black circle but remember to send the blue shape to the back otherwise the blue shape will be subtracted instead of the black.
05 – Final Touches
We should now have something like this:
Now we are going to join all he remaining 3 shapes to be one. Select the three shapes and go to the pathfinder pallet again. This time select the first shape mode with is “add to shape”.
This will create a vector shape which combines all of them together.
So we now have a complete shape which could be used for a number of purposes. Its very modern and yet very simple and could not have been created without a little thought and the techniques we have just used. In my view a shape like this shows that a designer is familiar with vector packages and is therefore technically advanced in his/her abilities. Leering techniques like this can only add to the ability and creativity of a designer and I think it is worth getting really familiar with the pathfinder pallet for this reason.
06 – Putting It In Context
So we created a shape. Whoopy-do!!. What use is a shape if not put into context I ask myself. So I decided to show it in context. Here in three steps I used this shape to create a simple yet effective logo concept (Note: for more information on logo design why not check out my Guide to Logo Design)
So there we have it. A few simple techniques used to create a logo in a matter of 10 minuets. I would be interested to see how people found this tutorial – too simple, too complex. Was it easy to follow and most of all was it useful?
So master the pathfinder tool and get creating. Enjoy…