Drawing Paths & Shapes: Pen Tool-I  E-mail
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Written by Craig Watkins   

Exploring the drawing tools that make Illustrator so powerful.

The PEN TOOL is used in much the same way as you would draw on paper with a pencil... in theory anyway. Common uses of the PEN TOOL can include: redrawing logos as vector artwork, creating custom shapes and for drawing refined shapes.

The PEN TOOL makes paths in a similar fashion to the pencil tool. With the PEN TOOL however, you have a lot more control, and the paths can be very fine-tuned because you set each individual point that defines the path. Personally, I use the PEN TOOL much more often than the pencil tool because of the control factor. Using the PEN TOOL generally takes longer at first, b ut with practice, you can create very detailed paths in the amount of time it would take you to clean up a path made by the pencil tool. With the PEN TOOL, you are specifically defining the points on your path and not leaving it up to the tool to do so. The PEN TOOL actually has four components explained below:.

This is what you will use to create or “draw” your paths.

You can add additional points to your original path at any time with this tool.

You can delete points on your path at any time with this tool,

This tool is used to refine curves by clicking and dragging on the handles that appear in a curve to fine tune it’s shape.

You draw paths with the PEN TOOL by setting down ANCHOR POINTS. The first point you make will be the starting ANCHOR POINT. Click to place your starting ANCHOR POINT on your artboard.

After you have made your starting ANCHOR POINT, move your mouse to where you want to go next and click to set another point.






Think about playing connect-the-dots to draw a shape when you were a kid to get the idea of how the PEN TOOL works.


The points you make after your starting ANCHOR POINT will define your path. To end your path, place your last point and choose the SELECTION TOOL from your tool bar.

You can also end an open path by holding down the COMMAND(Mac)/CONTROL(PC) key and clicking in an area away from the path. (Holding down the COMMAND/CONTROL key will turn the PEN TOOL into the last selection tool you used.)

To make your lines perfectly straight or at 45 degree angles, hold down the SHIFT key between while points.

To create basic curves, do not release the mouse when you put down a point. Instead, place the point and drag your mouse and you will see a curve form. When you have the curve where you want it, relates the mouse and move on to your next point.






It is sometimes difficult to get accurate curves using this method if you are redrawing something, but the methods for refining your curves will be covered shortly.

If you are making a closed shape, complete your path by clicking on your starting ANCHOR POINT.

Now that you know the basics, please see Drawing Paths & Shapes: Pen Tool-II to learn how to really move with the Pen Tool.

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