How To Draw A Star In Illustrator | The Complete Guide

Draw a star in Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator makes it easy to draw all kinds of shapes and objects. One of the more advanced shapes you can draw, however, is stars and polygons. This can be done using a dedicated tool that has lots of options built in so that you can draw stars exactly as you’d like. This tool may be a bit confusing if you’re not already familiar with how it works though. In this tutorial we will be simplifying the entire process as we go over how to draw a star in Illustrator.

In short, to draw a star in Illustrator you must use the Star Tool. This tool allows you to draw stars manually by clicking and dragging on the canvas, and it also allows you to generate stars by inputting numerical values that dictate the points and radius of the star. Let’s have a look at how to do each.

Draw A Star In Illustrator

To draw a star in Illustrator, access the Star Tool via the toolbox. Click on the canvas and input numerical values into the menu to represent the number of points and radius of the star, or you can click and drag on the canvas to draw the star manually.

The following video tutorial will walk you through the entire process, step-by-step:

Continue on for the written tutorial.

Table of Contents

Generate A Star Numerically

Draw A Star Manually

Working With Stars

Generate A Star Numerically

In this first part of the lesson we will go over how to generate a star by inputting numerical measurements to dictate the number of points for your star and the radius of those points. In the second part of the lesson we will be going over how to do so manually by clicking and dragging.

Step 1: Access the Star Tool in the toolbox to the left of the screen

To generate stars in Illustrator we must first access the Star Tool, which is located in the toolbox to the left of your screen, just beneath the Rectangle Tool:

Star Tool location
The Star Tool is hidden behind the Rectangle Tool in the toolbox.

Holding a click over (or right-clicking) the Rectangle Tool will populate a fly-out menu where you can choose the Star Tool.

Step 2: Click on the canvas to populate a menu where you can input the measurements of your star

With the Star Tool selected, you can generate a star shape by simply clicking once on the canvas. Once you do so, you will be prompted with a menu where you can input the numerical measurements of your star:

Star Tool settings
This menu represents the settings of the star to be generated.

These inputs values represent the following:

  • Radius 1: the distance between the center of the star and the inner points of the star
  • Radius 2: the distance between the center of the star and the outermost points of the star
  • Points: the number of arms/legs you’d like your star to have

The diagram below provides a visual representation of these values:

Star measurement settings

Input the preferred measurements for your star and press the OK button to generate it on the canvas.

Once generated, you can easily create more copies of stars with those same measurement values by clicking and dragging on your canvas to draw them. And from there you can apply a color fill and adjust the stroke properties as you please.

Draw A Star Manually

Now that we’ve gone over how to draw a star in Illustrator using precise numerical measurements, let’s have a look at how you can draw one manually with your hand movement.

Step 1: Access the Star Tool in the toolbox

As we did in the first part of the lesson, access the Star Tool in the toolbox on the left-hand side of your screen. It is located where the Rectangle Tool currently is.

Again, holding a click over the Rectangle Tool will populate a fly-out menu with the Star Tool as an option. Alternatively, you can right-click the Rectangle Tool to populate this menu.

Step 2: Click and drag on the canvas to draw

To draw your star, simply click and drag on the canvas.

The star will scale from the center and will increase or decrease in size based on your hand movement:

Drawing a star by clicking and dragging

Holding the Shift key while clicking and dragging will lock the star onto its axis so that it doesn’t rotate:

Lock axis

Holding the Control key will allow you to scale the radius of the star’s points with your cursor movement:

Change the star's radius

Holding the Alt key while scaling will reset the radius of the star you’re drawing:

Reset the radius of the star

Pressing the Up and Down arrow keys allows you to add and remove points from your star:

Adding and removing points

And finally, holding the Spacebar allows you to move the star around on your canvas while drawing it:

Move star

It may take a little practice to get these keyboard controls memorized.

It’s important to note that in order for these keyboard controls to work as described, they must be performed while you are drawing the star. Or, in other words, while holding the click. Once the click is released, the star will be drawn and finalized as is.

As is the case when generating stars via the input dialog, drawing them manually will also remember the settings of the most recently-drawn star so that you can continue drawing more copies of that star quickly and easily.

Working With Stars

Now that we’ve gone over how to draw a star in Illustrator, let’s have a look at some of the ways you can edit your star further.

Give Your Star Rounded Corners

One of the most common traits you may wish to apply to stars drawn in Illustrator is rounded corners. As we’ve gone over in a previous lesson, you can round the corners of stars and various shapes and objects by using Illustrator’s live corner widget.

To do so, grab the Direct Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut: A) and click on a star that you’ve drawn to activate it. You should see little round knots in each corner:

Live corner widget
The live corner widget is represented as small round circles with a blue outline, white fill, and a blue dot in the center.

These knots represent the live corner widgets. To round the corners of your star, simply click and drag them:

Rounded star

The degree to which the corners are rounded will depend on your cursor movement as you click and drag. Double-clicking the knots will populate a menu where you can input a specific radius measurement if you so desire. You can also change the corner type here too.

Reset Star Tool To Defaults

As we mentioned earlier, whatever settings you apply to your star will be remembered by the Star Tool for next time, which is really useful if you’re creating lots of copies of the same star. However, this can be an inconvenience if you’d like to return the tool’s settings back to its defaults.

Unfortunately there is no option in the Star Tool settings to reset the tool to its defaults, but this can be accomplished with a simple workaround.

First, click and drag on the canvas to begin drawing your star. Use the up and down arrow keys to add or remove points as needed to ensure that your star has 5 points. Once your star has 5 points, press and hold the Shift + Control + Alt keys on your keyboard while drawing the star, and then release the click to apply the changes. This should reset it back to its defaults so that you are drawing a standard 5-point star.

Once you release the click and the star is drawn, the Star Tool will remember these settings for next time, effectively resetting it back to its defaults.

In Conclusion

Knowing how to draw a star in Illustrator can be a bit overwhelming if you aren’t already aware of the keyboard controls and how they function. Once you have them figured out though, drawing stars becomes a simple and enjoyable process that almond makes you feel like a design wizard.

If you have any questions or need clarification on any of the steps taken in this lesson, do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

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Want to learn more about how Adobe Illustrator works? Check out my Illustrator Explainer Series - a comprehensive collection of over 100 videos where I go over every tool, feature and function and explain what it is, how it works, and why it's useful.

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