Illustrator pathfinder

by Design Workshop Sydney

The Pathfinder set of tools in Adobe Illustrator is a very useful collection of functions which assist in the creation of complex shapes. We show you how to use these handy tools in our Illustrator training courses.Illustrator-pathfinder
To create the snowflake shape illustrated here on the bottom right we would first of all create a square 25 by 25 mm in size. To do this precisely simply select the Rectangle tool and click on the artboard, whereupon a dialog box will open. We can here punch in the dimensions required.
With the rectangle selected next select the Rotate tool and double-click on it to open another dialog box. Enter 45 degrees and hit OK. We now copy this quite far apart  from the original. Then draw a rectangle between the two to conform to the shape top right. Open the Pathfinder panel via Window > Pathfinder. Move the rectangle behind, select both shapes and hit the Subtract option to subtract one side at a time.
Next we rotate the shape by 90 degrees and copy it by pressing the Alt key (Mac:Option) and moving it with the Selection tool. Next go to the Object menu and choose Expand. This will convert the shapes into one single shape. Note that you could later copy this shape into Photoshop and it would retain its vector attributes.
Now create a thin black rectangle (above middle). Rotate and copy this by 90 degrees, then by 45 degrees, to create a star shape (above middle). Go to the Pathfinder panel again and choose the Add option. Then Subtract this from the other star to produce the shape on the bottom. Lastly select it and choose Expand.
The Pathfinder tools can be used to create all sorts of weird and wonderful complex shapes in Illustrator.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or self-taught, our courses will help you gain self-confidence in your Illustrator workflow, as well as adding to your professional skill-set. See many examples of our Illustrator clients’ work on our Facebook page.
Other related Illustrator Blog Posts:
Illustrator workspace
Illustrator basics
Illustrator clipping masks
Illustrator live trace
Illustrator brushes