Easily Create Complex Illustrations with Basic Tools and Pathfinder Commands in Adobe Illustrator

 Aug 03, 2015

How to create complex illustrations from basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator can create complex path illustrations with simple shapes, minor adjustments and using the commands available in the “Pathfinder” panel. To demonstrate this, I’ve created a five step illustration of a small horse. In the following example, I've used basic shapes, modified the shapes with the pen tool, pencil tool and selection tools, used pathfinder commands to combine shapes, and finally added a few flourishes with colour, gradients and a basic brush.

Step 1 – Create a horse using basic shapes

Step 2 – Modify the shapes as needed with the pen and selection tools

Step 3 – If desired, add additional paths to your illustration with the pencil tool

Step 4 – Use Pathfinder commands to add basic shapes together

Step 5 – Add a few colour, gradient and brush flourishes


For a full listing of what each of these helpful Pathfinder command buttons do, follow this link.

Additionally, other Adobe Programs such as InDesign and Photoshop have similar options to help create more complex paths.

Until next time, don't forget to explore all the many wonderful creative tools and options available in Adobe Illustrator.

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About the Author:

Katherine Davis  

With over 15 years of experience, Kate is one of New Horizons most knowledgeable and skilled Desktop Applications and Graphic Design trainers. She approaches each training event with an understanding of the student’s perspective and with their learning goals in mind. Her extensive knowledge and dynamic training style enables her to engage users of all varying skills levels and ensure that each student’s learning goals are achieved. Kate is especially well known around the New Horizons office for her creative flair and talent in using the Adobe suite. She takes a genuine satisfaction from helping students solve issues and always makes an extra effort to ensure that students have an enjoyable learning experience.

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