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How to use Pen tool in illustrator
Pen Tool is one of the most important and used tool in not just Adobe illustrator but in whole Graphic Designing. This tool is typically what you will be using while creating professional-grade logos, for typography and for screen printing on T-Shirts. This is also one of my favourite tools and I always recommend students to practice it a lot.
Pen tool requires a large amount of practice and self-discipline to master it. Initially, you can practice by drawing over an image (a process called tracing) and eventually start creating your own designs.
So, this is one of the most important tools to master on to be a graphic designer.
If you are a beginner, a pen tool might seem a little bit hard to get a full grasp on, but it’s really pretty simple once you’ve understood the basic principles behind it.
The pen tool works by creating paths which are connected by control points. To select the pen tool go to the tools panel on the left side of the interface and click on the pen tool menu or just press P on your keyboard.
After selecting the pen tool, set the fill color to none and select any color for the stroke.
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Creating Straight Paths
Create an open path
At first, place a point by just clicking on the stage while selecting the pen tool. After doing that you will see that your path is now anchored to that point and you can move freely around it.
Then click on another point and gradually move to another and press enter when it’s done.
Create a closed path
After this practice, you can move on to creating a closed path. To do this, repeat the above process and connect all the points creating a closed path.
While connecting the anchor points, you will see the little circle right next to your cursor. And this indicates that you are about to connect the last point and close your path.
Create slant paths at perfect 45 degree angle
To do this, at first create your first point but this time hold down shift key and it will make the path anchored to that point to move in perfect 45’angles.
You will see that as you move around your control point, the path will snap to the closest vertical, horizontal or 45 degree angles.
And this property of Illustrator can really come in handy when you are creating shapes or any illustrations.
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In the above section, I talked about creating straight paths, but paths can also be curved. The vector curves created with the pen tool are called Bezier Curves.
For example: try to create this a simple semi-circular curve by following these instructions:
- At first, create your starting point on one end of the curve, but this time just click and hold.
- Now, as you drag your cursor you can see that you have two handles that can rotate on their own. The way you position these handles will determine the angle and shape of your curve.
- Again if you hold Shift, you’ll be able to drag these handles in a perfectly vertical or horizontal line.
You good to create your curve with as little points as possible and advantage of this is smoother looking curves. You can also make freehand curves without holding down Shift key if you are going for a more inconsistent type of shape.
One thing to remember here is that handles will only allow you to create curves. So you need to break the handle by clicking on the anchor point if you require converting a curve into an angled corner or a pointy tip.
Adding & removing anchor Points on the Path
If you make a path using the illustrator pen tool and then hover the cursor above the anchor point, you will notice a minus icon appear. And if you then click this will remove the anchor point.
Also, if you hover over the path itself with the anchor point in place, you can then add an anchor point. You can then go ahead and edit the anchor points.
If you still can’t find those options, select the pen tool from the toolbar and hold your cursor, a fly out menu will appear which have separate options for ‘adding anchor point’ and ‘deleting anchor point’.
My last advice to master the pen tool in illustrator is “PRACTICE”. Also, you can Google search ‘Pen tool practice’ and take a look at the images. You will find many templates to try and draw around.
If you are following our Free Illustrator Lessons and Tutorial Guide, then next you should read about, ‘How to use Perspective Grid Tool and Perspective Selection Tool in illustrator‘.
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