Random Free Vectors Part 2 – Rounded Squares

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Here is another example of a design play with a single shape. With a single shape, it's possible to achieve very intricate designs, with a little layering, color, and path manipulation. I've been exploring simple shapes and layering lately, and again wanted to share with you a little super-simple inspiration.

Random Free Vectors Part 2 - Rounded Squares

Download: Random Squares Vectors

Tips for exploring this on your own:

How I made these Shapes:

Step 1

Like I mentioned above, I just used a single shape over and over, a rounded rectangle, but I also combined a lot of paths to form some more complex shapes. Here's how: Make a bunch of rounded rectangles on top of each other at different sizes, like this.

Creating rounded vectors

Now in the Pathfinder palette (window > pathfinder) Hit the “Exclude Overlapping Shapes” button, then immediately hit the “Expand” button. (or you can hold down option/alt while hitting the Exclude Overlapping Shapes button).


Illustrator subtracts all of the areas that were previously overlapped, and the expand button gets rid of the leftover paths and creates one simple compound path for you. Here is the result!

Creating rounded vectors part 2
Creating rounded vectors part 3

Step 2:

The same thing goes for the shapes that have only strokes, but we will use a different button in the Pathfinder. Create a bunch of rounded rectangles, overlap them and apply a stroke like this.

Shapes with strokes

Now hit the “Add to Shape Area” button in the Pathfinder to combine all of the rectangles into a single path, then immediately hit “Expand” to get rid of the leftover paths.

Pathfinder settings

Illustrator combines all of the shapes into a single path for you. Here is the result.

Combined shapes
End result

That's it, pretty simple huh? Just a single shape tool, and a couple Pathfinder buttons, and you will be well on your way to some complex geometric patterns and designs in no time! Tip: Fill some of your shapes with the same color as your background to get a reverse or negative shape effect, without having to cut the shapes out of a path. (See my file)

Reference, and Further Reading:

Previous Post – Pathfinder: Explained