Graphic Design at Morristown High School

Shape Building in Illustrator

Learning the Tools That Help Us Make Shapes


Illustrator works differently than Photoshop in the sense that it uses shapes instead of pixels to assemble the work. You will need to have experience with a lot of different tools palettes and filters to achieve your results for your Adobe Illustrator work. The activity below should help you dive in to the most basic of tools (pen, Pencil, shape tools, etc) and the techniques to create more complex items for your projects.

Purpose & Objectives: 

Students will be asked to recreate a sheet of objects that are created with the simple illustrator shape and pen/pencil tools. Student will be able to recreate shapes with purpose using the tools they are asked to practice and create with.


The students will have to have the following to get all points on this activity:

  1. An Illustrator document with complete shapes traced almost accurately using the proper tools and filled in correctly
  2. A blog post that presents and reflect on their work presented with sections, include the following:
    • An Introduction section that describes what you did during this project, not only what, but how.
    • A description of your task. What did you have to complete for each part of the project, what tools did you use? Describe the process you undertook to complete your work.
    • A Reflection What did you do well with? What did you have troubles with? How did you overcome those troubles? Write a reflection that speaks to your successes, trials and tribulations. Include what you will remember most about this activity. Lastly talk about what you learned and found interesting. Rate the level of challenge of this project (1 to 10, 10 being the most challenging) as well as your performance (1 to 10).
    • Images to Include are…Your final worksheet.
    • A new thought or next step. Include some links to related tutorials or next steps that one might go to next from this project. Maybe something a little harder, with a bit more challenge.


FIRSTView this video, and look at the references section below for assistance using the pen and pencil tools. Also, is a great resource to follow for the basic uses of Illustrator, even some of the best Illustrator work out there. This link may block the school address out after so many hits, so check from home and often.

SECOND, Click on the image to the left and drag that to your desktop. This will be dragged from your desktop to your Illustrator document.

THIRD, Start a new Illustrator document, Save it as ‘’ on your desktop.

FOURTH, Drag in that image from your desktop. With that image selected, go to Object > Selection > Lock Selection

FIFTH, Begin tracing using the shape tools, pencil, pen, pathfinder window and other elements that help you to your goal.

SIXTH: When you are completed. Add in the following watering can.

SEVENTH: Save the document for the web. Make note of some difficulties, successes and surprises you have encountered along the way. Use this information and create a blog post to present your work and learning.



Further exploration:

Here are some other tutorials or videos you can watch if you finish:


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