INFO: Software Cheat Sheets

Illustrator CS6: Shape Tool Basics - Ellipse Tool

Cheat Sheet 20121114

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The Ellipse Tool (L) draws ellipses and circles.

Hold Option while clicking the Rectangle Tool button and you'll click through your Shape Tool choices. Otherwise, just click and hold to see the following tool options (see below):
Illustrator CS6 shape tool choices

Release your Mouse on the vertical tearoff bar on the right to make a separate floating panel of the Shape Tools (see below):
Illustrator CS6 ellipse tool

If you want to draw numerically: You can select any Shape or Line Tool, click anywhere you want on your artboard and its dialog box will open up. Then you can just enter your measurements and click OK. Your specified shape/line will then appear on your artboard.

Drawing with the Ellipse Tool (L)

• Click and drag to draw.
• Holding down the spacebar allows you to freeze and freely move your shape around while still drawing. This works with all the Line and Shape Tools.
• After drawing, you can click once to open the dialog box and see what the settings are for what you've just drawn. Click OK if you want to copy it, otherwise click Cancel.

Modifier Keys with the Ellipse Tool (L)

NOTE: The trick with using any Modifier Key (e.g. Command, Option, etc) is to remember to always release it AFTER you release the Mouse.

Option lets you draw originating from the center.
Shift lets you draw a perfect circle.
Shift-Option lets you draw perfect circles originating from the center.

Drawing with the Ellipse Tool (L) using a guide box

Start by drawing from your initial corner intersection with your Mouse – then release your Mouse at your destination intersection. Drawing this way will make the guide box appear on the outside of your ellipse/circle (see below):
elipse_guides_corner
elipse_guides_corner_drawn

Drawing with the Ellipse Tool (L) using a guide box and the Command Key

Start by drawing from your initial corner intersection with your Mouse – then hold the Command Key – then release your Mouse at your destination intersection – and then release the Command Key. Drawing this way will make the guide box appear on the inside of your ellipse/circle (see below):
elipse_guides_corner_command

To make a copy:
Use the Direct Selection Tool (V) to – click on your artboard – then select your shape – and then Option-drag-release to make a copy.

Drawing Numerically Using Dialog Boxes

Drawing numerically works for all the Shape Tools.

NOTE: If you haven’t drawn anything, the numerals in the dialog box are the default settings. Once you start drawing, the settings will change. The only way to return to the default settings in a dialog box is to quit and relaunch Illustrator. (Or, you can write the settings down before you change them and then manually type them back in as needed.)

Position your cursor on your artboard, click and release to open the Ellipse dialog box (see below):
ellipse_dialog_box

When you click the Link Icon in any of the dialog boxes it will link together the Width and Height (i.e. Constrain Width and Height Proportions). This way, if you choose one value, the other value will update accordingly. You can unlink them anytime you want.

Fill in your desired measurements and click OK. Your measurements will be drawn starting from where you clicked on your artboard and that spot will become the upper left-hand corner of your shape (see example below):

If you Option-click to open your dialog box – your measurements are drawn from where you clicked and that spot will become the center of your shape (see example below):

NOTE: Illustrator acts, in a sense, as a calculator – e.g. fill in inches and it will convert them into points if that is what you have as your document’s default setting.

SPECIAL TRICK: Hold down the Tilde (~) key when using any shape tool and experiment with the shapes you get.

Any questions?

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