Shape Builder, Live Paint Bucket tool in illustrator

In this illustrator lesson, we will be learning about Shape Builder Tool, Live Paint Bucket Tool and Live Paint Selection Tool in illustrator by Lalit Adhikari at LTY. Let’s get started!



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Shape Builder Tool

shape builder tool in illustrator
Shape Builder Tool

This tool is used in building complex shapes quickly and easily using lots of other shapes. This tool is commonly used in making logos.

overlapping shapes in illustrator
Overlapping shapes

Here, you can see that I’ve made a few different shapes with the shape tools. Now, if you select all the elements of your shape through the selection tool and then select the shape builder tool you can combine these shapes to become a new shape.

After selecting the shape builder tool, you can left-click inside one of these segments and as you drag through other segments you will see the red lines indicating what your final shape will look like.

This tool is also an alternative to the pathfinder in Adobe Illustrator.

shaper builder tool being used in illustrator
Merging shapes using Shape Builder Tool

And after you are done with selecting the line segments with shape builder tool, you can let go the hold of your mouse and you will see that it finishes and completes the shape you are building.

shapes merged using shape builder tool in illustrator
Shapes merged using Shape Builder Tool

Now, as you’ve got the shape you can swap between the fill and the stroke.

In this way, you can create different complex shapes using a lot of simple shapes quickly and easily using the shape builder tool.

The shortcut key for this tool is Shift + M


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Live Paint Bucket Tool

live paint bucket tool in illustrator
Live Paint Bucket Tool

This is the second option in the fly-out menu of the Shape Builder Tool. The shortcut for this tool is K

Here’s an example of how to use this tool.

all shapes selected and overlapping in illustrator
Overlapping shapes

There are three circles overlapping each other. And I will color the overlapping parts with paint bucket tool. The first step will be selecting everything with the Selection Tool.

And after that, as you select the live paint bucket tool you will see a red highlight over the shape.

live paint bucket cursor icon in illustrator
Cursor showing Live Paint Bucket icon while hovering over shapes

And as you click over the shape, you can see the shape break into the individual parts. And that’s how you can color all those different parts.

live paint bucket used to fill color in overlapping shapes in illustrator
Different colors filled in different overlapping areas using Live Paint Bucket in illustrator

In this way, you can color different complex shapes with simply one click.

But there are a few problems you might encounter while using this tool.

For example: you made a sketch with some graphics pen like I’ve drawn here:

character in illustrator
A Sketch drawn in illustrator

Sometimes there might be some little gaps and the live paint bucket tool can detect all the gaps. And then your Live Paint Bucket Tool will not fill the color inside the shapes.

To fix this problem go to the Object menu in the menu bar and select the Live Paint Option.

gap options dialog box in illustrator
Gap Options

As you hover over that option a fly-out menu will open up. Now, select Gap Options from that menu.

A dialogue box will open up as you click over that option. There you can select any ‘paint stop’ options which have options for large gaps, small gaps, and medium gaps.

Using this option you can close the gaps of your shape and then fill the color with live paint bucket tool.


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Live Paint Selection Tool

live paint selection tool in illustrator
Live Paint Selection Tool

This is the last option in the fly-out menu of the shape builder tool. The shortcut key for this option is Shift + L

Before using this option you first have to change your shapes to a ‘Live Paint Group’. The shortcut key for doing this is Alt + Ctrl + X or you can go to the Object menu in the above menu bar and select Live Paint option.

As you hover over that option another fly-out menu will open up and from there choose Make option.

live paint option in object menu
Make option in Live Paint under Object Menu

Here, I have created a shape and grouped it as described above.

So, after you’ve made your design group your artwork and then select the live paint selection tool. Hold Shift key and make a selection of the whole shape.

After that, you can select any shapes and then fill color from the swatches. This tool is very useful for quickly applying colors and changing them.


If you are following our Free Illustrator Lessons and Tutorial Guide, then next you should read about, ‘How to Use Gradient Tool in illustrator‘.


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  2. Thanks in support of sharing such a pleasant blog and filling it with detailed text tutorials. Shape builder & live paint bucket tool are some of the most important tools in illustrator.

  3. I just love these tools. It lets you create amazing custom logos. Most of my logos are created because of Shape builder tool.

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