Adobe Illustrator beginner tutorial – How to make a simple gear silhouette.

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This is my first tutorial for Adobe Illustrator. I am by no means an expert at Adobe Illustrator and this tutorial is not for advanced users. This is a simple introduction to how a few of the basic tools used to manipulate objects.

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Step 1: Open Adobe Illustrator and Open a new file.

Open Adobe Illustrator and open a new file. I am not going to go into the details of the setting as they really will not effect anything in this tutorial. If you plan on keeping the finished vector, give the file a name that is appropriate.

Step 2: Make an ellipse.

Click and hold the shape tool box. Select ellipse. You can also press the letter L on your keyboard as a shortcut. By default the ellipse will not make a circle. To make a circle hold down the shift key as you drag your mouse. This will force the ellipse to be a circle. In my video the shape defaulted to no stroke and a fill color of black. If yours is different, click the no stroke button to remove the stroke and then click the swap button to swap the fill color.

Step 3: Make a rectangle.

Click the Rectangle tool or press the M button on your keyboard. You can choose to make the rectangle any size you want. If you hold shift it will make a square. Side note, to zoom in like I did in the video, hold the ALT key on your keyboard and use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in or out.

Step 4: Resize tip of rectangle.

You will use the scale tool to make the two ends of the rectangle come closer together. First use the direct selection tool. You can click the tool or press A on your keyboard. Now click on one of the corner anchor points. Hold the shift key and click the opposite corner. Holding the shift key allows you to select more than one anchor point. Click on the scale tool or press S on your keyboard. A target icon will appear on or near your object. You want this target to be as close to the center of the two points as possible. Once the target is in the right place, click one of the two anchor points and drag them towards the target. Once you are satisfied with the look of the gear tooth stop dragging it in.

Step 5: Move the gear tooth to the main gear piece.

Click the selection tool or press V on the keyboard. Click the modified rectangle and move it to the main gear piece. Make sure to align it with the center of the circle or it will end up looking funny. Make sure to overlap the pieces so there is no gap.

Step 6: Duplicate and rotate the teeth.

Select the tooth and the main gear piece by using the selection tool and dragging across both pieces. Click the rotate tool or press R on your keyboard. A target will appear on your selected objects. The target is the center of the rotation so you want it to be exactly in the middle of the circle. Click the middle of the circle and the target icon will move there. Next hold the ALT button and click the target. A rotation dialog box will appear. Set the angle of rotation to whatever you think looks right. Remember a circle is 360 degrees so if you want an evenly spaces set if teeth, pick a value that divides equally into 360. Example 10,20,30,36,45,90,180 and many more. I chose 45 for this tutorial. Click the preview button to see an example of where your object will move to. Once you are satisfied click copy. This will create a copy of the tooth and move it the specified 45 degrees. Hold CTRL and press D to duplicate the teeth.

Step 7: Unite the parts.

I did not show the last part in the tutorial because it is optional depending on what you want to do with your gear. If you want it to be a solid object or to make it a symbol you should unite the pieces. Open the pathfind pallet by going to Window and clicking Pathfinder. Highlight all of the pieces and click Unite on the pathfinder pallet to make a solid object.

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Adobe Illustrator beginner tutorial – How to make a simple gear silhouette., Seekyt
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Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.