Adobe Illustrator has some simple built-in shapes, such as the rectangle, ellipse, polygon, and star, but what I’d really like to see added is a heart. Every time I need a heart in Illustrator, I have to draw one, and while there are tons of ways to create a heart, I usually rely on one of 5 basic methods.
- Transform a circle
- Draw a side, duplicate, flip and join
- Use 2 circles and a triangle
- Transform a triangle
- Draw an imperfect heart and be happy with its handmade look
Note: For these tutorials, I’ve used Illustrator 2019 where you can choose between an Advanced and a Basic Toolbar. I’ve used the Advanced toolbar. To change toolbars, select Top Menu –> Window–>Toolbars and choose Advanced. If you have an older version, you may have to search for the tool on your toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut provided in the instructions.
1 Launch Adobe Illustrator and click Create New. For practice, set your document size to 8.5 X 11 inches.
2 You’ll use a grid to help you keep things lined up. Access your grid preferences. Some versions use the Illustrator menu at the extreme upper left of the screen (Illustrator –>Preferences –>Guides & Grid). For some versions, you access them using Top Menu –>Edit –> Preferences –> Guides & Grid.
On the Guides and Grid screen, I set up a grid with 1 inch gridlines divided into 4 sections. When you’re satisfied with your grid preferences, click OK.
To turn on your grid, select Top Menu –> View –>Show Grid.
3 Set up your colors so you’re using just a stroke color and no fill color. To do this, locate the swatches at the bottom of the Toolbar. If the Fill swatch isn’t on top, click it to bring it to the top, then click the NONE icon to give it no fill.
To give your Stroke a color, click it to bring it to the front, then choose a color from your Swatches panel. Access it by clicking Top Menu –> Window –> Swatches. (You can also double-click the Stroke swatch to access a more extensive color selection but for this tutorial simply choose a color from the Swatches.)
You’re ready to start drawing hearts!
Method 1: Transform a Circle
1 Select the Ellipse Tool from the toolbar. (Keyboard shortcut: L)
2 Hold down your Shift key as you drag out a circle. Any size is fine.
3 Choose the Direct Selection tool from the toolbar (the white arrow or keyboard shortcut: A). Select the circle. Click the top anchor point and notice the control handles.
4 Hold down your option key (Mac) or alt key (PC) and select the tip of the right control handle. Move it up to create a curve. Do the same for the left control handle. Try to keep them at the same angle and distance from the circle. This creates the top of the heart.
5 Select the anchor point at the bottom of the shape. Hold down your Shift key, select the right anchor, and drag it back into the anchor point. Do the same with the left anchor.
6 Still using your Direct Select (white arrow) tool, select the anchor point on the far left of the shape, hold down the Shift key and select the anchor point on the right to select them both. Then use your up arrow key on your keyboard to move them up.
7 Excellent. You’re almost there. Now use the Direct Selection tool (white arrow, Shortcut: A) to select the bottom anchor on the heart. Use the up arrow on your keyboard to move it up until you like the shape of your heart. You can re-edit the anchors and the control handles until you get just what you want.
That was easy! Next we’ll use the Pen tool to draw a perfectly symmetrical heart.
Method 2: Draw a side, duplicate, flip and join
1 Make sure the swatches on the bottom of the Toolbar still have a Stroke color and no Fill color. Click the Pen tool from the toolbar. (Keyboard shortcut: P) Use your grid to help you draw the right side of your heart using 4 anchor points as shown below. For Point 2 and Point 3, you’ll click where you want to add an anchor point and with the mouse button still depressed, you’ll hold down the shift key and drag out control handles.
2 From the Toolbar, choose the Direct Selection tool (white arrow, Keyboard shortcut A). Select the Point 3 anchor point, then click and drag the tip of the bottom control handle down to tweak the lower curve of the heart.
3 Access the Selection tool (black arrow, Keyboard shortcut V). Click the heart side and copy it. (Top Menu –> Edit–> Copy, Keyboard shortcuts Mac: command C, PC ctrl C) With the side still selected, click Top Menu –> Edit –> Paste in Place. You now have a duplicate superimposed over the original shape.
4 Without deselecting the duplicate, select Top Menu –> Object–>Transform –> Reflect.
5 On the Reflect panel, choose Vertical and click OK.
You should get something like this:
6 With the duplicated and reflected line still selected, use the left arrow on your keyboard to nudge the line to the left until the top and bottom anchor points line up. Try to be as precise as possible.
7 Access your Direct Selection tool from the toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut (A). Drag over the indentation in the top of the heart to select both anchor points at once.
8 Join the two points. Top Menu –> Object –> Path –> Join. Your joined path might result in some small “burrs.” Access the Stroke panel (Top Menu –> Window –> Stroke). Select your heart (Selection tool, V). Change the stroke’s Cap and Corner from square edges to rounded edges.
9 Use the Direct Selection tool (white arrow, Shortcut: A) to drag over the bottom tip of the heart and select both anchor points. Join them (Top Menu –> Object –> Path–> Join).
10 Your heart is complete.
Method 3: Use 2 circles and a triangle
1 From the Toolbar, access the Ellipse tool or use its keyboard shortcut ( L). Hold down the Shift key to draw a circle. Use the Selection tool (black arrow) to select the circle, then hold down the option key (Mac) or the alt key (Windows) to duplicate the circle and drag it to the right until it creates the top profile of a heart.
2 Access the Selection tool (black arrow, Shortcut: V) Hold down the Shift key and click first one and then the other circle to select them both. Access the Align panel (Top Menu –> Window –> Align) and click Vertical Align Top icon to make sure they are perfectly aligned to the top.
3 With the circles still selected, access the Pathfinder panel (Top Menu –> Window –> Pathfinder) and click the Unite icon.
4 For the bottom half of the heart, we’ll use a triangle. From the Toolbar, choose the PolygonTool.
5 Tap the tool on the page to access the Polygon panel. In the Sides field, use the arrows to choose 3 sides. (Or type the number 3). Click OK. A triangle appears.
6 To make the triangle part of your heart, we’ll flip it so the point faces down. From the Top Menu, select Object –>Transform –>Reflect. Then, on the Reflect panel, choose Horizontal.
7 Use the Selection tool (V) to drag the inverted triangle over your united circles. Enlarge and reshape it so it looks like the graphic below (roughly like an ice cream cone). Make sure the sides of the cone line up perfectly with the lower curve of your united circles. (You can select both the circles and the cone and use the Align panel to Horizontal Align Center, but I just eyeballed it.)
8 Choose both the united circles and the cone. On the Pathfinder panel, click the Unite icon.
9 You’re almost done. Combining the two shapes resulted in some extra points you don’t need. Use the Delete Anchor Point Tool( –) to click any extra points under the side anchors. In my case, I had 3 extra points that I needed to delete on each side.
10 Here’s what my heart looks like with the extra points deleted.
11 Now we just need to tweak the remaining points. Looks like I need to work on getting the lower section of the heart more curved. One at a time, I’ll use the Direct Selection tool (A) to select a side anchor point to reveal its control handles. Then I’ll hold down the Shift key while dragging the bottom tip of the handle downward.
12 Here’s what my heart looks like after I pulled down the control handle on both sides of the heart. Notice how I used the background grid to pull both handles roughly the same distance.
13 That’s better, but the lower section of the heart is too long. Click the Direct Selection tool (white arrow, A) on the bottom anchor point and use the up arrow on your keyboard to shorten the lower section.
Method 4: Transform a Triangle
1 From the Toolbar, access the Polygon Tool.
2 Tap the tool on the page to access the Polygon panel. In the Sides field, use the arrows to choose 3 sides. (Or type the number 3). Click OK. A triangle appears.
3 From the Top Menu, select Object –> Transform–> Reflect. Then, on the Reflect panel, choose Horizontal.
4 Align the center of your triangle with one of the vertical grid lines so you can more easily get things even. Use the Add Anchor point tool, (Shortcut +) to add a point to the top center of the inverted triangle.
5 Select the new anchor point using the Direct Selection tool (white arrow, Shortcut A). Then click the down arrow on your keyboard to create an indentation in the top of the triangle.
6 Use the Direct Selection tool, to select the upper right point of the triangle. Select the Anchor Point Tool from the Toolbar (Shortcut Shift C). Use the Anchor Point Tool to draw out handles from the point at an angle in order to round out the corner.
7 Repeat on the other side.
8 Almost there. A few more fine adjustments to the anchor points and the control handles should do it.
Method 5: Draw an imperfect heart and be happy with its handmade look
Simply drawing with the Pen and/or Pencil tools in Illustrator can let you create a wide variety of hearts with personality. It’s easy, spontaneous, and just what you need for a craft or art project that looks handmade.
If you went through the previous four methods, you already worked with the pen tool a bit. You should be ready to experiment with the pen tool to draw different types of hearts. Clicking and dragging to create paths, moving anchor points, and manipulating control handles are the key to drawing with the pen tool
Compared to the Pen Tool, the Pencil Tool is a piece of cake. Here’s one way to create a heart with the Pencil Tool.
1 Access the Pencil Tool from the Toolbar. (Shortcut, N).
2 Make sure your swatches at the bottom of the Toolbar have a color for the Stroke swatch and no color for the Fill swatch (as explained at the beginning of the tutorial).
3 With your Pencil Tool selected and loaded with a Stroke color, simply draw the heart as you would with a real pencil. Notice when you’re finished drawing, Illustrator has automatically added anchor points and control handles to your line! Use the Direct Selection tool (Shortcut: A) to tweak your heart just as you did in previous methods.
4 When you’re happy with your heart, make sure to join the end points as you did in a previous method.
Wow. That was a lot of information and yet there are many more ways to draw hearts. You may even come up with your own method. Happy drawing!