Shape Builder Tool In Illustrator

Shape Builder Tool In Illustrator

Shape Builder Tool In Illustrator

Using shape builder in illustrator allows you to intuitively merge shapes as well as subtract shapes on your artboard. In this lesson, we will learn how to create some complex shapes from basic shapes in Illustrator
P.S: This tutorial applies to illustrator CS5 and above.


1. Create several overlapping shapes.



  1. Select the shapes that you want to combine with the Selection Tool.

  1. Select the Shape Builder Tool.


  1. Click and drag across the selected shapes. The shapes are now merged into one shape.

Below is the beginning of a fish illustration.

The body, fins and tail should all be separate shapes, so first select the body and tail shapes, then choose the Shape Builder Tool. Click, hold and drag through the body and just the portion of the tail that overlaps.


We also need to combine the overlapping sections of the fins with the body, so using the Selection Tool, I’ll select the fins and body, then switch back to the Shape Builder Tool and drag through the overlapping section of the top fin shape, through the body and into the overlapping part of the bottom fin to combine them.

Here we will add another shape for the mouth, which we will subtract from the body. Select the body and mouth shapes, then choose the Shape Builder Tool. This time hold down the Alt and drag through just the mouth shape. Notice the minus sign [-] that appears in the cursor.

Here’s the cartoon fish illustration with color applied.

I hope you learnt something from this tutorial and can use this tutorial to create complex shapes in illustrator.