Using Brushes

Chapter Seven

Compound Paths and Shapes

Compound Paths and Shapes are the result of adding or subtracting two or more paths or shapes to create a new shape. This can be done using simple shapes created with the shapes tools or shapes drawn freehand.

Setting Up the Pathfinder Palette

To create compound paths you need to use the “Pathfinder” Palette. If you followed my earlier instructions the Pathfinder Palette can be found in your Floating Palette to the right of the screen. If not, you can add it by going to the Window drop down menu at the top of your screen, selecting “Path Finder” and then clicking on the palette that appears and dragging it onto the Floating Palette.

Compound Paths and Shapes differ in that the shapes are editable after they have been compounded when they are selected with the direct selection tool.

To make a compound shape instead of a compound path simply hold down the Alt button while you click on the Compound Button you want to use.

Examples of Compound Paths/Shapes

Draw some basic shapes using the tools in the tool bar and give each one a different colour. Layer them on top of each other in the art board.

To get a better idea of what each pathfinder function does, click the buttons to see what happens to your shapes. Below is a description of each function.

Adding the shapes together to create one large shape.


Removes some overlapping sections in an alternating pattern.


Leaves just the bottom shape, minus the overlapping parts of
any shapes above.


Uses edges of shapes to split into new shapes.


Leaves Just the parts of the shapes that overlap.


Uses edges of top shapes to trim shapes underneath.


Merges paths but keeps shapes.

Minus Back

Removes shapes behind leaving top shape only.


Uses top shape to crop shapes below.


Changes shapes to outlines, using fill colours as outline colours.

Compound shapes are another way of using simple shapes to create more complex objects.

They don’t just have to be used with simple shapes, you can use these with shapes drawn using the pen, pencil and brush tools too.

When all of your shapes have been added/subtracted/etc you can still edit the layout. Simply select the Direct Selection Tool and select the paths or points you want to edit or move, just like with the pen tool.

Using Compound Paths

Compound Paths can be used to create more complex
shapes. In this example we are going to make a simple USB
stick, but you could use them to create a self portrait or a
landscape drawing.

1) Firstly, draw a large rectangle. This doesn’t have to be
accurate, but should resemble the main body of a standard
USB stick. Put a radius on the corners

2) On the end, draw another rectangle resembling the metal
port that is inserted into the computer, overlapping the first

3) On the other end of your first rectangle, draw a circle
overlapping the rectangle.

4) In the centre of that, draw another circle, concentric to
the first.

5) Back on the other side, draw two small squares of the
same size, and align them horizontally to each other.
You now have your basic shape.

6) Select your first and second rectangles and the larger of
your two circles. From the Compound Paths Palette select

7) Select your USB shape and the two small squares and
the small circle. From the Compound Paths Palette select
“Minus Front”


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