Deke’s Techniques 026: Creating a Classic Heart in Illustrator

Hello all. In this week’s Technique, I show you how to draw a classic heart shape in Adobe Illustrator. The introductory graphic is a bit misleading. I don’t actually add the stylized highlights and shadows. Nor do I add the nipples. (But, you know, isn’t it interesting how two innocent ellipses can turn something so harmless into something mildly salacious? Gosh, I like ellipses. Life’s best stuff is elliptical.) Rather, I focus on how to draw a perfect heart shape using nothing more than three tools: the underrated arc tool, the appropriately rated white arrow (so good). And the reflect tool, which lets you flip the left half of the heart to make it symmetrical.

I should mention that this is the first Deke’s Techniques in which I train my sights on Illustrator. There will be more.

Here’s the official (nipple-free) description:

Yes, you heard it right. This week, Deke’s Techniques gives a little love to that occasionally daunting yet imminently lovable drawing tool, Adobe Illustrator. Although many of you know author Deke McClelland as a Photoshop maestro, in today’s free technique, Deke returns to one of his early digital loves and shows you how to draw a classic heart shape in Illustrator. If you’re Illustrator-phobic as I’ve been known to be, let me assure you even I was able to draw this shape by following Deke’s clear instructions:

The classic heart created in Illustrator

The steps are simple and employ only a few easy-to-use tools—the Arc tool, the Reflect tool, and the trusty black and white arrow tools (officially known as Selection tools). By adjusting curves drawn by the Arc tool, we safely avoid the far more complicated Pen tool. And, in the end, what could be more a more appropriate command for combining two halves of a heart than the Join > Paths command in Illustrator CS5. Ah, vector love. So unpretentious, uncomplicated, and unambiguous.

Of course, sometimes you want your declaration of love to be florid,  eye-catching, and just this side of over-the-top. Or maybe just the other side of over-the-top. For subscribers to the Online Training Library, this week’s new exclusive video in the Deke’s Techniques course features that same heart shape taken to a glossy extreme in Photoshop:

The glossy version of the heart dressed up in Photoshop

And of course, members can view the entire collection of Deke’s Techniques here. You’re bound to find something there to love that will make your creative day just a little easier, sweeter, or more exciting.

What I love about the classic heart is how much you can do with it. It honestly fires the imagination. Let me know what you come up with. Members of the Online Training Library can check out what I made of it in Photoshop. Nothing tawdry, you’ll be glad or perhaps disappointed to know. But it’s provocative nonetheless.

Next entry:Add the Definitive Edge with Sharpening

Previous entry:Join Me for a Half-Day Workshop, “Photoshop 3D Fundamentals,” at Photoshop World


  • ... boobies !

    Well… that was a striking pair of tities my friend…

    Definately, you cought my attention with your “heart” tutorial !!! lol

  • Technique no.26

    Well lets see, I think you have struck an interest in Illustrator from me. I never really thought there would be a real desire or need for it given my background, but this might just work out for me. Excellent itch created. If I ever wanted to learn Illustrator, it would most certainly be from the master.

  • Technique 26

    I love learning stuff with illustrator and deke is the master…. and I would just wish for photoshop that we stop placing so much interest on extended. Are you getting some kid back from Adobe? LOL

  • Hey Deke .... how would you do it?

    Hey Deke .... in relation to this news article, I ponder the question .... how would have Deke done it?

  • Thanks for the illustrator tutorial

    Could you make other illustrator tutorials…. Thanks

  • Thanks for tutorial! Can i

    Thanks for tutorial! Can i translate it with Traductor de Google on spanish and then post on my site?

  • doubts

    doubt 1)consider the following scenario sir

    i have created the following rectangle shape.and filled with magenta(100 %).and 100 % opacity.…in/photostream

    then i added a new slightly desaturated magenta(90%) fill in appearance panel with 50 % opacity. which resulted in slightly bright (or something) color.…in/photostream

    i want to know whats happening here…i know i m able to see first fill through second fill ..are both colors getting mixed up to give such color???.... what happens when two more hues undergo same situation??

    doubt two

    consider the following scenario,

    1)i drawed three circles

    large circle is 100 % white with default opacity

    medium circle with 100 % magenta with 50 % opacity

    and small circle with same values as medium.…in/photostream

    the smaller circle is appearing to be darker, i remember i have learned this from that portrait tutorial,but y its happening??

    is there any technical reason for that,or i should just remember it that way??

    my questions might look foolish,but i m sorry,i cant move forward with out getting a clarity on above doubts

  • valentine heart

    Thanks for all the help. Question however, using CS4, how does one “join” the segments? Selecting the 3 segments in CS4 and “Control-J” gets a message about endpoints. Help.

  • Appropriately, I respond on Valentine’s Day

    What’s the message?

Share your feedback, work, homages, questions, wisecracks, advice, critiques, riffs, derision (within reason), frustrations, and love of all things graphical. Log in (or register) to lend your voice.