Day 3: Drawing Basic Shapes

In this lesson, we will look at how to use the shape tools to draw our basic shapes in illustrator. But before we start, we will look at how to select a basic shape so that you have no problems in selecting and editing shapes in Illustrator.

Selection Tools

There are 2 types of selection tool in Illustrator used for selection objects.

Selection Tool: Used for selecting and moving a shape. It can also be used to resize a shape.
Direct Selection Tool: Selects a single anchor point instead of the whole shape. Used for editing anchor point of a shape. Click once on a point to select and hold Shift to select multiple anchor points.

selection tool

Shape Tools

Now we will move on to the Shape Tools. When you go to the Tool Palette and hold the Rectangle Tool, a list of shape tools will expand out for you to pick. We will start with the default Rectangle Tool.

rectangle tool

Understanding Fill & Stroke

Click and drag out a Rectangle as shown. By default, it has a white fill and black stroke. (Stroke is the border of the shape)

rectangle fill

Changing Fill Color

Let’s start changing the fill color for the rectangle. Double click the Fill from the Tool Palette. It will pop up the Color Picker. Drag the slider to blue and select a deep blue color. Click Ok after that.

Removing Stroke

Click the Stroke in the Tool Palette once to swap it above Fill. Click the None icon boxed up in red to set the Stroke to None. The black stroke will disappear.

Constrain Proportions

To draw a perfect square, we will select the Rectangle Tool. Hold Shift and drag to draw a square. Same for the circle, we will select the Ellipse Tool and hold Shift to drag out a circle.


Resizing Shapes

To resize shapes, select the shape using the Selection Tool and a bounding box will appear. Drag the corner anchor point to resize it. To constrain to proportion while resizing, hold Shift as you resize. Also hold Alt/Option if your want to resize from the same position.

resize circle

Rotating Shapes

Select the shape with the Selection Tool and a bounding box will appear. Move your cursor near the anchor corner and a rotation icon will icon, click and turn it to rotate the square. To snap at 45 degrees increment, hold Shift and turn.

rotate square

More Options for Shape Tools

Select the Star Tool. Click once on the artboard and an option will pop up. Enter the same values below and click Ok. It will draw a star burst shape. This method can be used to bring out more options for shape tools.

star burst


Almost all the objects found in our daily life can be built from combining using the basic shape tools. In Day 9, we will learn about Compound Paths which will help us create more complicated shapes by adding and subtracting from the basic shapes.

Next Lesson: Drawing with Pencil Tool »
Back to Illustrator Training Course

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About The Author: Tony Soh

Hi. I'm the founder of Vector Diary. Illustrator is my passion and I have written numerous tutorials on illustrator helping people learn illustrator. My most popular tutorial on learn illustrator has been a hit. It makes learning illustrator so easy and has benefited more than 20,000 people worldwide. Also, I've revealed some of my secret techniques in the premium tutorials. So don't forget to check it out!

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  1. Gravtar for Alex Jordan
    Alex Jordan July 16th

    great start :-). Will you be/ Would it be possible to have some kind ‘you try it’ or some sort of task just to have a reason to use some of the new knowledge.?
    [more so for later on]

  2. Gravtar for eryi
    eryi July 17th

    Some of us have been using freehand for vector drawings for years. ¿Will you explain de differences between these two programs too? It could be very usefull! ¿What do you think?

  3. Gravtar for imLOST
    imLOST July 17th

    There is a typo in the image of the “Understanding Fill & Stroke” section.

    Just thought you should know.

    Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading more of these over the next few weeks.

  4. Gravtar for iStockdiary
    iStockdiary July 17th

    Hi eryi, sad to tell you that Macromedia has been brought over by Adobe. Freehand has been discontinued and Adobe will no longer develop, update or patch Freehand for future operating systems. So it’s time to switch to Illustrator. =)

  5. Gravtar for iStockdiary
    iStockdiary July 17th

    Hi Alex Jordan, we will look more into working with shapes on creating compound paths on day 9. I will be teaching how to combine the basic shapes to draw an ancient key. So look forward to it.

  6. Gravtar for Kelli
    Kelli July 28th

    You are truly making it possible to achieve an goal when it may not have been financially possible otherwise. I am extremely grateful for you putting out this tutorial! Many Thanks.

  7. Gravtar for Liya
    Liya July 29th

    I have been looking for this kind of easy-to-understand- tutorial for Illustrator. Surely I will visit your site frequently. Thanks a bunch 🙂

  8. Gravtar for Val
    Val August 15th

    Just wanted to say that I’m enjoying the lessons so far!

  9. Gravtar for Leroy Simpson
    Leroy Simpson August 25th

    Jah rasta blood claat maan, dis is da best training i seen yet. Better dan anytin in jamaica

  10. Gravtar for emily
    emily August 29th

    love love love this!
    thanks so much!

  11. Gravtar for Dwight
    Dwight December 5th

    The lesson on basic shape was very, very helpful. I can see how I can put it to use immediately.

  12. Gravtar for Bman
    Bman December 16th

    You do realize that the star does not have to look bloated like that right?
    When you have the star tool selected click & drag to draw one but while you are dragging hit the alt/option key & it will snap back into normal proportions instead of being a bloated star. You notice when someone doesnt know how to use Illustrator very well when they have bloated stars in their work.

  13. Gravtar for Ayme
    Ayme January 28th

    Great tutorial! I’ll get a book soon but this is a great start 🙂

  14. Gravtar for shaymaa mahmoud
    shaymaa mahmoud May 18th

    Thanks,you are really helping many people to reach their dreams.I am really so grateful for the lessons.thanks again

  15. Gravtar for Jennifer
    Jennifer August 11th

    Thanks so much for posting these very helpful little tutorials!! It’s very generous of you.

  16. Gravtar for vimal
    vimal August 24th

    this is very useful syllabus for the learners thanks a lot to the author

  17. Gravtar for elvira
    elvira September 25th

    I had been looking for a really clear and basic tutorial to use illustrator. This is it! thanks.

  18. Gravtar for nadia
    nadia December 28th

    this is very helpful..thanx so much

  19. Gravtar for ilham
    ilham March 2nd

    could u help me to learn ullistrateur

  20. Gravtar for cim
    cim March 18th

    Drawing with Pencil Tool » This Link for Day 4 does not work

  21. Gravtar for MichaelV
    MichaelV November 29th

    DAY 3: Well, that wasn’t too bad. I now know how to create basic shapes and do some stuff to them. I have a bit of experience with Word and Powerpoint and Excel so some of the things look sort of familiar. At least they’re not totally alien – yet.

    It’s a start but a long way away from being able to draw that camera shown on lesson 1.

    I must always remember the saying: the longest journey starts with the first step – and that’s my 3rd step. On to Day 4…

  22. Gravtar for Umar
    Umar December 23rd


  23. Gravtar for Tiarne
    Tiarne February 5th

    Thankyou so so so much for making these tutorials! Already you have helped me get my head around Illustrator!

  24. Gravtar for Markus
    Markus April 26th

    I use CS5, how do I add more points to stars..?

  25. Gravtar for Mary
    Mary June 2nd

    Where is artboard?:(

  26. Gravtar for Airmax
    Airmax August 7th

    I am fully immersed myself within the excellent stuff. It really is our great pleasure to talk about the wonderful blog on hand. Best Regards!

  27. Gravtar for Amani
    Amani October 14th

    words would never give you the proper thank-yous ..

  28. Gravtar for jeff
    jeff February 18th

    My selection tools are both acting like the direct selection tool. When I use the normal selection tool it selects the path with no bounding box or way to transform it. I don’t think I changed any settings or anything. Any help?

  29. Gravtar for jeff
    jeff February 18th

    never mind, i reset all settings and it works now 🙂

  30. Gravtar for Maneesh
    Maneesh May 18th

    Thank u very much…no words to say any thing..but…
    God bless u…

  31. Gravtar for Rizwan
    Rizwan July 9th

    it’s much helpful and best Practice for new users of illustrator. any body can help me to i want to learn in depth adobe tools.

  32. Gravtar for Godwin
    Godwin July 31st

    This was just fantastic, very well Illustrations

  33. Gravtar for Mk
    Mk September 16th

    Thanks, great tutorial.

  34. Gravtar for kuledud3
    kuledud3 October 22nd

    computer nerds -_-

  35. Gravtar for Dhananjaya
    Dhananjaya November 1st

    thank you.. greate job for us

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