Get Familiar with Pathfinder in Illustrator

Compared to Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator can sometimes be more intimidating to use. It isn’t as forgiving to beginners as Photoshop but it is very useful when you know how to use it, such as in creating shapes. Illustrator is known for being the leading vector graphics software that artists and designers use to create the best logos, icons, typography, among other illustrations.


If you find shape building in Illustrator to be quite daunting, then maybe it’s time to get more familiar with the pathfinder panel. The pathfinder panel features are all you need in creating shapes in Illustrator; once you got your head around the functions, shape building won’t be that hard!


The following tips by Luke O’Neill, art editor of T3 Magazine, involve some pathfinder techniques for creating basic shapes and other graphics and icons that will be helpful for both newbies and experts in Adobe Illustrator.


Basic Teardrop Shape

To create a basic teardrop shape, start off by creating a circle that fills four of the larger grid squares. Use the ellipse tool to create the circle by selecting ‘snap to grid’ and holding Shift. Next, draw a square that fits one of the larger grids squares. Select the circle and the square, then use the unite function in the pathfinder panel to combine the two items into one. Lastly, rotate the formed shape until a simple teardrop is formed.


Expand Button

Expand buttons are those icons in a website represented by four small triangles that point towards the four corners of a page. Start with a square that fills four of the larger grid squares. Duplicate the same square and put the copy on top of the first one. Rotate the top square to form a diamond. Select the two squares, then from the pathfinder panel, use the ‘minus front’ function to delete the top square, creating four corner triangles or the expand icon.


Eye Icon

From the first tip we learned how to build a circle by using the ellipse tool activating ‘snap to grid’. For the eye icon, create a perfect circle. Drag and duplicate the circle by holding alt+shift. Make sure that the circles overlap like a Venn diagram. The area where the circles overlap will be the eye shape. Select both circles, and with the intersect function from the pathfinder panel, make a shape from the overlapping area. Rotate the shape, then repeat the ‘minus front’ function used in the expand button to create an outlined stroke circle, forming an eye.


Once you have mastered the pathfinder panel to create basic shapes and strokes in Illustrator, creating more complex graphics will come easy.


These steps have all been simplified but can still be a little vague or challenging for a complete beginner.  If you seek exceptional design advice and services, then MicroCreatives is the team you need. Check our portfolio page for our sample works and contact us by filling in this simple contact form. We can also assist with copywriting and development projects, among other creative requirements.