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Basic Panels of Adobe Illustrator (Part 2)

Basic Panels of Adobe Illustrator

Continuing my previous article you will learn the remaining basic panels of Adobe Illustrator in this article.

Let’s Start….

      1.      Path Finder Panel
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Don’t assume its function by its name. It does not find path rather it helps in combining paths to form a compound shape, subtracting shapes and dividing shapes.

The Path Finder Panel can be found out in the properties panel on the right side of the workspace. If you don’t see it there then click on Window in the Menu Bar and then enable Pathfinder. In just few clicks Path Finder Window will be on your screen.

In Path Finder Panel you will see Shapes Modes and Pathfinders. Under Shape Modes come Unite, Minus Front, Intersect and Exclude. Below image in an example to understand the use of different Shape Modes-


In the above image I have drawn a rectangle with Rectangle Tool and a circle with Ellipse Tool. I have placed the circle over the rectangle. Now we will use different Shape Modes and see how it works.

·         Unite: This Shape Mode helps in combining paths to form a compound shape. Select the circle and the rectangle with help of Selection Tool then click on Unite button and you will see that the two shapes are united to form a single shape.

·         Minus Front: In this Shape Mode the front shape & the overlapping shape get erased. You can see its result in the above image. Select both the shapes and click on the Minus Front button in the Path Finder Panel and you will get your result.

·         Intersect: With use of this Shape Mode only the intersecting/overlapping shape will remain and the other part of the shapes will be erased.(See above image)
Select both the shapes; circle and rectangle; and click on the Intersect button in the Path Finder Panel. After clicking on the Intersect button you will see that only the intersecting area of the shapes will remain on the artboard and other will be erased.

·         Exclude: This Shape Mode is opposite of Intersect. With help of this Shape Mode the overlapping area of the shapes will be erased. Select both the shapes and click on Exclude button in the Path Finder Panel. The overlapping/intersecting shape will be erased. If you want the resulting shape to be separated, select the resulting shape and click on Ungroup button (you will find it in the Properties Panel).

Now we will understand the use of Pathfinder, which is below Shape Modes in the Path Finder Panel.

Divide, Trim, Merge, Crop, Outline and Minus Back comes under Pathfinder. The result of their use has been shown in the below image.



·         Divide: It helps in dividing the shapes into separate parts. Select the shapes whose paths you want to divide and then click on Divide button in the Path Finder Panel. Then Ungroup them and you can select and drag them individually to separate them. (We will use this while learning Sliced Typography)

·         Trim: It helps in removing the overlapping part. You can see in the above image that the overlapping part from the rectangle has been removed with use of Trim button. Just select the shapes and click on Trim button and ungroup them. When you will drag them apart you will notice that the overlapping part has been trimmed.

·         Merge: With use of this the overlapping shapes will get merged.

·         Crop: It is same as Intersect but there is a difference. Compare the result of both Intersect and Crop and you will notice the difference. In Intersect, the above layer of the overlapping shape is the result and in Crop, the bottom layer of the overlapping shape is the result.

·         Outline: At first is seems same as Divide but in Outline only the outline of the shape will be the result. Practice it to understand the difference.

·         Minus Back:  It is opposite of Minus Front.

Hope the functions of Shape Modes and Pathfinders are not confusing for you after such a good explanation with examples. In case, if you are getting confused then I would suggest you to please don’t practice them at the same time.

Draw different shapes and give a try to Path Finder Panel.

      2.      Swatches Panel

When you will double click on a square shape which is near Fill in the Properties Panel, Swatches Panel will appear. You can even enable it from Window option in the Menu Bar. Click on Window then click on Swatches and the Swatches Panel will be there on your screen.


 In the above image by seeing the Swatches Panel you must have got an idea about its usage. It helps in selecting the color for Fill & Strokes from available solid colors. If you want to select or change color of fill click on the fill and then select the color from the swatches and the same you can do with strokes. Gradients and Patterns are also available in swatches.

You can also add new swatch. When you will click on a new swatch button a window will appear (see the image below)



With help of this window you can create a new swatch of your choice by altering the CMYK options. You can even change the color mode from CMYK to RGB, Grayscale, HSB etc. After making required changes click on OK. In the same way you can add a color group also. Select the colors of which you want to create a group and click on Add Color Group then a window will appear. If you wish you can change name of the color group and then click OK.

To delete a swatch or a color group select them and click on the bin icon. The selected swatch or color group will be deleted.

Try making new swatches and color groups of your choice.

       3.      Color Panel

To create new colors or to explore more color options click on Windows in the Menu Bar and enable color. The Color Panel Window will appear. By altering the percentage of CMYK/ RGB/ HSB or whichever color mode you select, you can create a new color of your choice. There is a wide range of color options in Color Guide. This is also available in Window; you can enable it from there.



Now practice the pathfinder by creating different shapes, play with colors by creating new swatches or color groups and explore the wide range of colors.

With help of my previous articles you have learned Basic Tools of Adobe Illustrator and now you are familiar with the Basic Panels which are frequently used while creating an artwork.

In the next article, I will provide you with the shortcut keys which will help you in saving your time while working on Adobe Illustrator.

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