Empire State Building Line Art with Illustrator and the Shaper & Join Tools


In this Adobe Illustrator tutorial, we’ll look at using the Shaper and Join Path tools to easily work with shapes and lines to create a perfectly aligned and structured line art version of the Empire State Building. If you’re just interested in making a quick piece of line art, or if you’re more interested in the Shaper and Join tools, this tutorial is for you!

Empire State Building Stock Photo

Importing an Image to Trace Over

We want to place our reference image of the Empire State Building so go File>Place and find the image you wish to import and choose it. Click on your artboard to actually place the image and use the edge handles to resize it or move it exactly where you wish. Double click on the layer containing the image to bring up the options for that layer and tick on “Dim Images to:” and choose to dim them to 50%. This will help us draw over the image and see our lines well. Lock this layer and create a new layer and name it “Lines”.

Creating the First Shape and Adding With the Line and Shaper Tools

Grab the Rectangle tool and drag out a shape over the base of the Empire State Building and remove the fill and select the stroke and set it to black and increase the stroke size to 10pt. Grab the Line Segment tool and drag two lines along the edges of the outer window areas of the building just as I have in the screenshots. Grab the Shaper tool (Shift + N) and simply draw a squiggly line over each of the little ends of the line sticking off the original rectangle. This will make those bits disappear and auto combine the lines into a single shaper group with the underlying rectangle we drew.

Adding Additional Shapes and Combining with the Shaper

Grab the Rectangle tool again and continue drawing out the shapes we need to make this Empire State Building line art look good. Use the Shaper tool to draw a squiggly line over the lines of overlapping shapes to combine the shapes together into our Shaper Group. You may want to check out the video to see exactly how this is done. Depending on where you finish your squiggly line, will change the way the shapes interact with each other.

Creating New Shapes with the Join Path Tool

When we get up to the spire and creating the shapes for this area, we want to grab the Line Segment tool and draw a couple angles and then draw a line across the top of these angles and across the bottom of the angles and then grab the Join tool (bottom tool nested beneath the Shaper tool) and simply paint over the lines protruding on each corner and the Join tool will automatically trim and join the corners to create a custom shape.

Group the Final Shape and Align to Artboard

Once you have all of your shapes and lines and you’re satisfied with your artwork, select everything and hit Cmd/Ctrl + G to group everything up and easily be able to select the entire thing with one click and look to the top control bar and choose to “Align to Artboard” and align to the horizontal and vertical centers of this artboard.

Make sure you watch the full video at the top of this article to see everything I did in detail!

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