Building graphics in Illustrator

Illustrator can seem intimidating, but by maximizing a few simple tools, you can be well on your way to creating graphics and icons to use across the Adobe suite.

Shape tools

Basic shape tools are the first step in creating graphics. You can pull off the tool tab and let the shape tools float.

Follow basic shape building tricks to get the exact shape you want.

  • Shift = proportional circle, square
  • Alt = draw from center out
  • Spacebar = move shape while drawing.


Once you have basic shapes drawn, you can combine them using the shapebuilder tool. (Window> Pathfinders also offer ways to build shapes). Paths must touch for you to build the shape.

Use keyboard shortcuts to combine or delete shapes

  • Alt = removes part of shape
  • Drag = unit shape
  • Click = make each separate shape.

Color/Fill and Stroke

Selecting colors, fills and strokes is the next step in creating simple graphic icons. Remember to explore your color libraries and stroke options to maximize all the possibilities.

Check out our workshop on using these skills to build your own graphics and let us know if we can help you build your own graphics!