I'm trying to learn Adobe Illustrator. I'm making an outline of a medieval shield, looking something similar to the following. (We're not going for perfection, just learning the tool, so ignore all the rivets and gradient, as well as the inset on the front.)

Example shield I'm trying to emulate

I started with a rectangle, added two circles to cut out the top, then added a triangle as a guide, made arcs at the bottom, chopped the rest of the rectangle and triangle with Shape Builder, and now I'm stuck. The entire shape you see is one linked path.

I can't figure out how to get the little wings off the side of mine, as shown below in yellow.

Can you help me with the vocabulary so I can Google the appropriate tool to learn about?

My shield, currently

Bonus Question: I keep thinking it would be very nice to just be able to move the vertexes of the shape so I could make the top points more pointy, and draw the bottom portion out a bit to be a bit more pointy, but I haven't yet found how to do that either in Illustrator. Is there a way to move the vertexes of shapes in Illustrator?

I am very new to this, so please use simple words or pictures.

Update: Thanks to your help, I've got something going. While not professional, at least it's something:

My Shield

Also, note, as mentioned below, there are multiple selection tools. The Direct Selection tool (white arrow) allows you to grab and move vertexes.

Lastly, for whatever reason I don't yet understand, after saving my file and re-opening it, the little yellow-marked "wings" were no longer attached to the main shield. In any case, I threw away the old one and made one as shown below, and it was much easier.

  • 3
    I wouldn't use a rectangle or anything.. I'd merely use the Pen Tool to draw half the shape. Then reflect a copy and connect the center anchor points.
    – Scott
    Jul 8, 2019 at 4:01

1 Answer 1


The outline of the shield is wanted, I guess. The whole shield with all those lights and shadows is a hard job in Illustrator even for an experienced user. Nothing impossible, but much work!

You have got an answer as a comment half a day ago. There's no other as practical way to do it than to use the pen.

If you see it can be based on a rectangle and you accept LR-symmetry, then as well a half of it can be based on a rectangle:

enter image description here

1) The rectangle. Actually it's needed for nothing, but have smart guides and snap to point on, then you can click with the pen tool to right places easily. As well you could have the photo as locked in the bottom and you could rely on smart quides to get the points placed.

2) A half of the outline is drawn with the pen. Only five clicks! You can move the generated vertexes later with the direct selection tool (=the white arrow), if wanted.

3) The rectangle is removed. Two of the anchors are converted to smooth ones with the anchor type conversion tool (it's in the pen-group). This step can often be skipped, because an experienced pen user draws both corners and smooth nodes in the fly. With the type conversion tool you pull the handles out of the corner. You can edit the handles later with the direct selection tool. NOTE: Mastering the Bezier curve anchors and handles is essential in Illustrator, do not skip it!

4) Object > Transform > Reflect > Vertical > Copy is used to make the other half

5) The halves are placed and joined. Select one and drag a node with the direct selection tool, the rest follow if you do not click anything else. The parts should snap perfectly. Select both and press Ctrl+J to join them.

6) A gradient fill is tried to check the plausibility of the curvature. As you see the arcs of the top side are not symmetric. Make them symmetric if you are not going to have any curvature.

ADD due the comment: You really should get Adobe's Illustrator documentation and work through some tutorials. You will easily found them if you search for Illustrator gradient tutorial. Here's one result:


You will need several hours to try all available gradient types and to see how to set them properly.

To get the dark grey - white - black gradient I simply inserted the needed color stops to the gradient panel. This is a three stop linear gradient. Here's a setup example:

enter image description here

The black stop in the right is just under color selection.

  • I wish I could upvote you a million times. I had no idea there was a difference between Selection Tool and Direct Selection tool. (This is very foreign to me.) You are correct, I was looking just for the outline of the shield.One final note: how did you get the gradient fill to start in the middle with light, and get dark toward the edges? Mine sweeps just one direction. Thank you so much for your help!
    – kmort
    Jul 9, 2019 at 1:33
  • @kmort there'a a little more. Save days or weeks by stopping pure trial & error based training, work tutorials and try the examples in Adobe's documentation.
    – user82991
    Jul 9, 2019 at 7:03
  • While my normal method for learning new software is to try everything until I get it (I remember WAY better when I've actually figured it out, rather than read about it), you are correct, this is too big and too foreign for my head to just figure it out ad hoc. I had completed a few tutorials, and had hoped I was at a point where I'd be able to figure things out, but was obviously not there yet. Thanks again.
    – kmort
    Jul 9, 2019 at 14:46

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