How To Make A Gear In Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is the best tool you can use to create fantastic vector shapes. One of the most common shapes you will need as you use Illustrator is that of a gear or cog. But how do you go about creating such an iconic shape and keeping it recognizable? There are two main methods.

You can combine the different shapes available in Illustrator to create a gear, and there are many ways to approach this kind of work. In this article, we will work using two basic shapes, a star and rectangles, to create your final gear or cog illustration.

It may sound complicated, but making gears in Illustrator is actually pretty easy. While some artists may prefer to use a pen tool, if you truly want a symmetrical and consistent shape, keep reading to figure out the best method to make this work!

How To Create A Gear In Adobe Illustrator

In general, there are many methods to create this shape when using illustrator. 

However, let’s explore two easy methods that can be used in combination with the Pathfinder tool to achieve the final shape you desire! Keep reading to discover how this works!

Creating A Gear From The Star Shape

One of the first approaches is to begin by using the star shape on Illustrator. Then, you will need to follow these instructions:

  1. On your Illustrator software, open up a new file.
  2. Choose the Star tool in the toolbar, and drag a shape onto the artboard.
  3. Press the up arrow key around 4-5 times to increase the points of the star.
  4. Now, use the ellipse tool to create a perfect circle.
  5. Drag this over the center of your star, so that the two shapes overlap.
  6. Select both the shapes.
  7. Now, in the Pathfinder tool, click the option Unite. 
  8. Create another perfect circle over your new shape.
  9. This new circle should be smaller than the star, but bigger than the first circle.
  10. If you look into the overall overlap area, you should begin to see the cog shape.
  11. Make any adjustments you like so you have the right shape.
  12. Select the new circle, and in the pathfinder tool choose the option ‘Intersect.’
  13. The unwanted areas will be removed.
  14. Now, you have the overall gear shape.
  15. Add a hole in the center of the shape using a circle. 
  16. Select both the shapes, and now choose to make a compound path. You can also use the shortcut Control + 8 or Command + 8 to make this happen. 

You now have a gear shape! If you want to be able to get an outline, you can change out the fill options, and then choose the color for your outline. This video explains this method in detail:

Creating A Gear From Rectangles

Now, the second method is to use the rectangle tool to have another gear shape. Here is how to do this on Adobe Illustrator:

  1. Using the rectangle tool, make one rectangle shape over your canvas.
  2. Now, duplicate it a couple of times so you have a total of four rectangles. 
  3. Rotate the second angle by 45 degrees, the third by 90 degrees, and the last by -45.
  4. Center align the rectangles, and then choose them all, and select ‘Unite’ in the pathfinder tool.
  5. Select the shape, and then choose ‘Effect’ from the overhead menu.
  6. Once the menu opens, then select the option ‘Stylize.’
  7. Finally, from this menu, select the option ‘Round Corners.’
  8. You will have the general outline of a gear, but you still need to have a hole.
  9. Add a circle in the center using the ellipse tool, making sure it is a perfect circle.
  10. Finally, use the compound path tool to remove this circle from the final shape.
  11. You will now be able to see another style of a gear shape.

This method requires that you align each rectangle carefully, but it gives you more freedom with the kind of shape your gear takes. While this may require a little more knowledge of how Adobe Illustrator works, you can use it to create some amazing results!

Final Thoughts

While it may look complicated at first, creating a gear in Illustrator can be a fun and interesting way to play with the shapes and the options in the Pathfinder tool. 

As with any other Adobe Illustrator tutorial, you will need to practice the process a little bit before you feel completely comfortable using it in your daily routine. We hope this article was helpful and that you can now create the gears and cogs you need on Adobe Illustrator!