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6 - How to draw a fox using the shape builder tool in Adobe Illustrator CC

Questions & Comments

Brady Nations - 11 months ago

Here's my swan from the practice after episode 6 of this course. Loving your tutorials! I taught myself some of the basics a few years ago, but with your instructions, I've already been able to think of designs in new ways using these tools. I've been taking your After Effects and XD course and now so excited to use the illustrator so that I can soon combine my skills within the creative suite.

Administrator Tayla Coman - 10 months ago

Awesome work Brady! Awesome to hear you're thinking about how to utilise the tools, that's exactly what we hoped this course would give people the ability to do.

Conrad Claycomb - 11 months ago

This is a great course! I couldn't even draw a decent stick figure in Illustrator when I started, and only 6 lessons into your course I can now do things like this. I'm am looking forward to the rest of the course.

Administrator Tayla Coman - 10 months ago

That's quite the advancement Conrad, it's so awesome to hear that. I hope you enjoy the rest of the course.

Michael Shea - 10 months ago

I am loving these tutorials. I never realized how easy Illustrator can be. Now the only hard part is being Artistic to envision your initial artwork.

Administrator Tayla Coman - 10 months ago

Awesome work again Michael, glad to hear you're finding it easy. You're right about needing the artistic vision, at least now you have the tools!

Felicia Hyacinth Chelat - 10 months ago

In my shape builder tool i cant find those extra four dots with which you pull the shape in

Administrator Daniel Scott - 10 months ago

Hey Felicia, it's called the 'corner widget' and is pretty new to Illustrator. Normally this problem is because you're using an older version of Illustrator CC. The latest version is 22.1.
If you go to:
(MAC) Illustrator CC > About Illustrator
(PC) Help > About Illustrator
If you have the up to date version - go to View > View Corner Widget.

Lindsey Wolfcale - 10 months ago

Having so much fun with this, thanks!

Administrator Tayla Coman - 10 months ago

Awesome color scheme, I love it. It reminds me of a Pokemon or something! Thanks for the submission

Cassandra M O'Connor - 9 months ago

Here's my "swan" bird from the practice exercise.

Administrator Tayla Coman - 9 months ago

Thanks for the submission Cassandra, it looks great!

Jon Hart - 9 months ago

first attempt

Administrator Tayla Coman - 9 months ago

Nice colors Jon!

Jon Hart - 9 months ago

Thank you for this course. Delivery in bite size chunks is both easy to understand and follow. I cant believe how much I've learnt already.

Administrator Tayla Coman - 9 months ago

Glad to hear you've learned so much! I like your version of the project too!

Cheryle Hargett - 9 months ago

Hello! I like that you have projects. Sitting down and doing something on my own really helps solidify the lessons. Thank you!

AHT JOHN - 9 months ago

Hi ! Dan This is my 3rd project in this course ! Hopefully You'll review my Work!

Administrator Tayla Coman - 9 months ago

Wow John! I love it, you're really utilised lots of different techniques. I've emailed Dan about this, hopefully he'll be able to squeeze in a message or two :)

AHT JOHN - 9 months ago


Abdulla_ka - 8 months ago

my swan

Alba Camilleri - 6 months ago

Here it is :)

Emilie Lumineau - 5 months ago

This is a great way to learn! I was always trying to find tutorials on YouTube and finally found what I needed.

Harmony Kane - 5 months ago

Oooh. Loving the monochrome. Nice.

Harmony Kane - 5 months ago

Enjoying the course so far. I initially thought about skipping this basics class but I'm so glad I didn't. I'm already learning a LOT. Thanks.

Aftab Zaman - 4 months ago

my version of swan

Zak Sommers - 4 months ago

I'm struggling with getting everything lined up and pointed. I ended up cheating a little and using the pen tool for the wings.

Daniel Kyriacou - 4 months ago

My Swan

Alexander Landon - 2 months ago

Fire Swan! I was listening to a synthwave mix while making this sooo.... guess that influence came out in the color scheme.

Janolyia - 2 months ago

Hi Dan,

I’m trying to draw the swan but I don’’t know where to start. Could you please help with the shapes and shape builder tool?

Daisy-May Nash - 1 month ago

Here's my swan :)

Natalie Reed - 1 month ago

My swan :)

Natalie Reed - 1 month ago

My modern fox- loved using the shape builder tool and this exercise has made me feel more confident in using it.

Sarah Grunewald - 1 month ago

I couldn't fix the left side where it's not a perfect arc. I am not sure what I did wrong there.

Nadine Rodriguez - 3 weeks ago

Loving this!

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Video Transcription

Hi there, in this video we're going to make this swooshy looking fox thing using my favorite tool, the Shape Builder Tool. Look at him, he's all made of little shapes, and bits, and pieces. Let's put you back together, fox, and let's go learn how to make you in Adobe Illustrator.

So let's start with a new document, 'File', 'New'. You can use US Letter Landscape, or A4 Landscape, it doesn't matter. Click on 'Create'. We're going to bring in the drawing we're going to copy from. So let's save this document, 'File', 'Save'. Let's put it on our 'Desktop', in our 'Illustrator Class Files'. Let's call this one 'Awake Fox'. Let's click 'OK'. Let's bring in the image we're going to redraw, we're going to go to 'File', 'Place'. We're going to use, in our 'Exercise Files', there's one called 'Awake Fox.jpg'. Remember, like in the previous tutorial we could just bring it in, put it on its own layer, and lock it and turn the Transparency down. You can do that all in one fell swoop by just clicking this 'Template' as you bring it in. Remember, watch this, it's created two layers, one's a Template layer, and you can't touch it. And they've dimmed it down, so you can draw on that easily.

We're working on 'Layer 1'. Let's go back to 'Properties'. Now, there is no real particular order to start this but you might as well follow me. So let's start with, say the Polygon Tool. If we click once, we're going to make sure it says three sides. I'm not too worried about the radius at the moment, just click 'OK'. What we can do is, 'Black Arrow', holding 'Shift', drag it out to the right size, and rotate it around. We did Rotation & Scaling in an earlier tutorial. I'm going to get it roughly in there. Now, you'll notice that the choice has snapped to the edge of the page and lots of those purple arrows, that's really handy. Sometimes it's just nice to get it close and use your arrow keys on your keyboard. Just a kind of tap it around with the keyboard to get it close. I'm happy with that.


What I'd like to do is have 'No' Fill, and a 'Black' Stroke. So I've got my black Stroke, if you don't, click on 'Stroke', 'Black', 'Fill Color'. Let's go for 'No' Fill color. Now I'm not sure which part to start with, I'm going to start with the ears here. So I'm going to grab and hold down the 'Polygon Tool and grab the 'Ellipse Tool'. I'm going to draw an ellipse. Holding down 'Shift', remember, gets a perfect circle. If I let go of Shift, it can get a weird shape. It's up to you what you want to do, I'm going to start with perfect circles. Something like that, 'Black Arrow', remember, I can't click the center, because it has no Fill. So I'm going to click the edge, and kind of drag it. You can kind of see, I'll use it maybe for that one, it's a bit big. I'm just resizing it till I get something close to that part. Using my keyboard to tap it around again. Cool. That will do. I am going to copy it, and paste it. Then move it up, so I've got it kind of here as well. I think I used a slightly smaller one, here we go. Even smaller than that. Trying to match that circle in there. That will do.


Next thing I'd like to do is start using my Shape Builder Tool. So I'm going to select everything. So my 'Black Arrow', select everything on the page, and I'm going to move to my 'Shape Builder Tool'. Now what I want to do is, I don't want to add any of these guys, I want to subtract this chunk up here that I don't need. Now who remembers what the shortcut is? That's right, it's 'Option' on a Mac, or 'Alt' on a PC. Hold it down, and you see I get a minus, ' - ', and I can drag across all of that, that, that. Click on him, you can see I can kind of minus those chunks off. I want to leave that, because that's going to be kind of the wider nose. These guys though need, they're doing some weird stuff, so I'm going to join them all. Remember, holding no keys down, will add. I'm going to add all of that to it. I'm going to minus that off, minus that off. Then, yes, it's kind of the basics for it. I'm going to grab my 'Black Arrow'.

What do I want to do now? I want the other ear. So I'm just going to copy it, paste it, I got another version. This guy here, can't quite remember, I'm going to all the way turn it around a little bit. Awesome! We've got another set of ears back here. Maybe not so much rotation. Now with everything selected, again, let's grab the 'Shape Builder Tool'. That bit's perfect. Now I just want to join these together, about there. And the nose goes, kind of disjointed with all these little bits. You might have to zoom in a little bit, remember, 'Command +', or 'Control +'. I'm going to draw on all of that together, so it's one unit. Now it starts looking a bit high, because you're like, "What is the drawing underneath, and which is mine?" You might go to 'Layers', and turn this 'on' and 'off'. Just to get a sense of what it is.

So the only thing I'm really missing is the circle for the eye. So let's do that, grab the 'Ellipse Tool', drag this out. Why am I dragging it up here? No reason, I'm going to drag it down here. Habit. Move it around, select all this chunk. I'm going to grab the 'Shape Builder Tool' and I'm going to do-- I want to add all of that together. That kind of worked. On, off, on, that bottom layer. It's looking good, now we just need the neck. I'm going to zoom out a little bit. Grab the 'Ellipse Tool'. Try and draw a circle big enough for that outside bit. Holding 'Shift', it feels about right. No, that's way too big. Hold it down. Remember, grabbing the edge, not the center of the circle. It's about him, and there's one stripe, two stripes. So I'm going to copy and paste him. I'm going to use that one. Roughly about that size, paste another one. Actually I don't need to paste another one, as long as I've got two there. Don't need that guy. Go away.

So I am now going to select it all. Grab my 'Shape Builder Tool', and I'm going to say, don't need you. Don’t want you, actually I do want you. There's the ellipse there. Why did I delete that one? I don’t need it. So, there was a circle that I was missing. You probably saw it while you were doing it, and went, "No." It is there. We don't need three circles. Now one of the things is going to happen here, if I zoom in, scroll up here, I hold my 'space bar', you see, it doesn't line up here. To make the Shape Builder work nicely, you need to overlap everything. So I'm zoomed in; it's just easier when you're zoomed in. Now I'm going to grab the edge, and try to get him to snap in there. It's reasonably thick, I think. Doesn't have to be absolutely, scientifically perfect, but reasonably close, a couple of pixels.

Now I'm going to select it all, and grab my 'Shape Builder Tool', and I'm going to say, I don't want that. Don't want any of that, don't want that, I don't need that. Delete that, I'm going to come in here. What I might do now is turn off the Template because I kind of know. Those two I want, those two I want. If you're finding it a little bit tough, don't worry. It is a little bit tough, trying to work out. You end up deleting the wrong bits like, there's a chunk through here, I'm going to add you guys together. 'Black Arrow', select the background, pretty close. There's some of these Strokes flowing on, that are different sizes. There's a thin one there, and a thick one there. I'm going to select them all, and say 'Properties' and I'm going to give them all the same Stroke Width of this '0.25 points'. Just a really thin one to get us going. That is looking good.

If you find you've got kind of junk in the nose, like this little trim bit, just use your Shape Builder Tool to try and tidy it up. You might even use the Black Arrow, just click bits, and delete it. Now what I want to do is go and color it. I'm going to put in a nice, big gray background. I don’t know why, everything looks better on a dark gray background. I'm just drawing a nice big rectangle, I'm going to fill it with a dark gray. I'm going to have 'No' Stroke on it. I'm going to click 'Arrange', 'Send it to the Back'. Now I'm going to fill this with color.

There's a couple of ways of filling it. I can just click the edges, and go fill it, or I could use the Shape Builder technique like we did in the last video, it's up to you. I'm going to go pick colors, foxy colors. I'm going to mix my own. I'm going to click on the 'Mixer'. I got my 'Object' selected, I've clicked on 'Fill', I've clicked on 'Mixer', and I'm going to click down here to try and find a foxy color. That's going to be my kind of lead color, I'll pick this one. Front Fill. I'm going to use the pretty mix color and just make it a bit darker by grabbing the 'K'. Lifting it up a little bit. I'm going to use this kind of back of the head bit by doing the same sort of thing. I'm going to use that, but lightening it up. Go even lighter.

This one here is going to be, just should be white, maybe, but I'm going to use this, like off white, so it looks good. Same with you, and, off white. I'm going to select it all as well. Now if I select all of it I'm going to end up with the background selected as well. That's fine, because I want to go to 'Stroke' and I want to say, never use those Strokes, Thank you very much. And that is our cool little fox thing. All done with the Shape Builder Tool, get some nice kind of swooshes and swirls, and it's kind of flowy. Those are words I'm just making up, but you get the idea, right? It's kind of a nice, swooshy thing.

So, now it is time for the end, and the time for the class project. So what I've done is, I've done another sketch that you can use, but I want you to go through and use the same techniques from the fox, but we're going to use our-- So 'New Document', use 'File', 'Place', and you're going to bring in this one called 'Swan'. Yes, that's meant to be a swan. Kind of looks like a swan, kind of a chunky swan. You're allowed to-- it doesn't have to be perfect like this, I guess. What I want to see is a better swan, nice colors. It's totally up to you, you can draw it perfectly if you like, but using the same tools as we did using the Shape Builder Tool and the fox, I'd like you to go off and do the swan. Again, I'd like to see your projects.

All right, that is it for this video, let's get on to the next one. Actually no, you're going to go off and start doing your homework. Draw this one, make him better. All right, see you in the next video though.

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