Adobe Illustrator CC - Advanced Training

Advanced Pen Tool Tricks using Adobe Illustrator CC

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, it is Advanced Pen Tool Tips and Tricks time in Illustrator. Now if you are a bit afraid of the Pen Tool still you might want to check out the Essentials course. Goes through the Pen Tool a lot more, kind of I guess, a bit more of basic understanding. This one here is going to jump straight into the-- you're an okay user of the Pen Tool, and you want to take it to the next level. So get a notepad out, there's a few shortcuts and key combinations to make this work and go fast. Let's get in there, redraw this little doll thing and make it look like this. All right, let's get started. 

So Advanced Pen Tool time. Let's bring in an image, so 'File', 'Place'. Let's bring in, from your 'Exercise Files', one called 'Pen Tool'. Where are you, Pen Tool? There you are, there. Make sure it's a 'Template', click 'Place'. So it's on its own layer, and locked. Next thing is, under 'Properties' let's grab our 'Pen Tool' from our 'Tool Bar'. Make sure we've got a Fill of 'none'. We'll have a Stroke of 'black', that's fine. 

One of the first things we need to do when using the Pen Tool is turn 'off' the Smart Guides. So 'Command U' turns it off, otherwise it starts trying to snap to things and you'll lose your Mojo. Now first trick is for better curves. Say I want to do this curvy bit down the bottom here. You might be at a habit, or the way you were taught, by clicking once for a corner, clicking and dragging for a curve, then a corner here. Now that is fine, but often you can get nice curves by using handles out of these corner points. 

So I'm going to start by clicking and dragging out, and I'm dragging out a curve. I'm dragging towards the line I want to go. Roughly about there. Then watch this, I'm going to drag out, and I get the same line with less Anchor Points. You'll find that if you have just two Anchor points, using handles it will just give you a nice smoother shape than you would get from doing two corners with a curve in the middle. The trouble it runs into, if you want to change direction here, because it's a corner, right? We knew it was a corner when we drew it. 

So that brings me on to my next shortcut. If you've got a curve where you want it to be a corner, you can just hold down the 'Alt' key on a PC, or 'Option' key on a Mac. You can see, I've broken it up there. I'm going to go up to here, and I want it to be a curve still, so I'm going to click and drag out. I can break it again later on by holding the 'Alt' key on a PC, or 'Option' key on a Mac, and breaking it as I'm drawing rather than drawing it out, then having to go back to the Convert Anchor Point Tool, or the White Arrow. Just a nice handy extra trick.

So that's one way of doing it, let's show you an even better way, and the way I normally draw is with the Pen Tool. So I'm going to click and drag out here to get this first curve. Click and drag out. And instead of doing what we did before, is draw it, and then come back to it and break it using the 'Option' key, or the 'Alt' key on a PC. You can actually do it here. Before you start-- before you get it kind of roughly where you want it to, just hold down the 'Alt' key on a PC, or 'Option' key on a Mac, that same key. Before you let go, and it actually snaps it while you're going. So I'll often do this. And drag out. 

Let's say I want to keep these curves Doing a real rough job to speed through but I get to here, and I drag it out then I hold 'Alt', just bring it up this way because I know that's going to get me roughly where I want to go. And we're going to get to this point. So 'Alt' breaks it. We get to this point and I know-- I need it to be really long to get that existing curve, right? But I know that this top point up here, you can see, you're like, "Man, it's gone too far", and you'll end up-- you'll have your methods to fix it up. What you can do is, watch this, while I'm dragging that one out if you hold down the 'Command' on a Mac, or 'Control' key on a PC you can-- it still keeps it locked but it brings this handle in, so that the extent is not as far. 

So, while you're dragging you can kind of shorten one of them by holding the 'Command' key. I know these are all a little bit tough to remember but you've got your notepad next to you, and you're going to just spend-- whenever you're doing your next drawing, you're just kind of like, "Okay." You might only use two or three of them but I find I use all of them, it just makes my Pen Tool experience a lot better. Another one we're going to do is, say I get along here, and I start drawing and it's just not quite on the line, right? What I can do, before I let go, just hold down the 'space bar' key, then when I move my mouse, it's moving the Anchor Point. So I can continue on to get it perfect. That's going to be it for super shortcuts. 

What I'd like you to do for your project is to finish off this drawing. You can use the Pen Tool or the Curvature Tool, which we learned in the previous video, it's up to you. Just kind of a rough drawing, don't worry if it's not perfect. I'd like you to do it, because we're going to use it as an example later on to kind of color it in, show you how to color in a hand drawn drawing. One of the things that you might run into is, like how do you want to complete this now. You're going to get to this point here, and go "Do I go down here, or up this way?" So let's just turn it into a pilot piece. What I mean by that is that, I'm going to grab my 'Black Arrow' just click off in the background and I'm going to draw it as a separate line. We'll join them all up later on using some cool tool called the Shape Builder Tool. I'm just going to click and drag down here. Do I want it to join? Yes, I probably do. 

You can see here, I'm not worried that it doesn't go around, completely joins, we're going to go through and connect these up a different way. So, Pen Tool, let's say this line here, there's this kind of hand, what I'm going to do is, click once, and just click once there. That's going to be enough for what I need. I'm going to use the Pen Tool now. I'm going to draw a curve. A curve, curve. What I might do is just overlap this a little bit because, do I want to get them a perfect line there? It becomes too hard to draw that way. So we're going to overlap that, and what I'll do is I'll draw that foot over the top, and we'll trim that up using the Shape Builder Tool. So that's the kind of technique I want you to use. 

Just make sure everything is-- don’t have to overlap completely like this. It can be close like that. We'll show you later on, there is a magic way of joining those up. I'd like you to go through, draw all the lines you can see here. Don't stress too much about it but this might be a really good time to practice your super amazing, fantastic new advanced Pen Tool tricks. 

All right, I'm back. I was just drawing this, and I thought actually there's probably more I can add to this video because one of the big problems is, let's say we're using any of the tools - I'm using the Pen Tool - is if I kind of-- say I want to click over here, it's going to really want to join up to this tool or join up to the end of these lines, and you're like, kind of, "Stop connecting up." The easiest way is-- so the Curvature Tool is the worst for it, right? If I start down here, and I put one there, one there, I want to go to this, it really wants to kind of do stuff with this, and you're like "Oh, what happened? We're just doing this line." The easiest way is just to go, zoom in real quick. So if I click there, it joined up. I've really exaggerated these lines, you can see, they all overlap. We'll tidy that up in a future tutorial but we click once and where it gets in here, where it really wants to join, just zoom in. I'm using 'Command +', you might use 'Control +' and just click in here, it gives you, I guess, a bigger room to kind o-- so it's not kind of trying to guess these lines. I often do that, zooming in, just to make sure it doesn't join up with other lines. 

Another thing I realized while I'm working is that, to deselect you can go to 'Black Arrow', or hit the 'V' key. The shortcut I use the most is holding the 'Command' key down. You can see, we get the 'Black Arrow', and just click off in the background. So while I'm drawing-- let's say we want to draw this line. So click once, I'm using the Curvature Tool, click once. I've got just a nice curve. It keeps on joining, so hold 'Command' and just click off in the background so I can start again. And again, it's going to really want to join that line. So if I zoom right in, holding 'space bar' to click and hold, and drag this around. Just going to start, kind of exaggerate this. I'm going to try avoid this line here. Click once, click once. Click once, click once. Go to 'Curvature Tool'. Built for making weird flowers. Click off in the background. 

One last thing before I go is, when you get to the end of your drawing, because we're going to color this in later on you’re kind of left with an ugly looking drawing. A lot of things overlap, and it's not very nice. Nice little easy trick is, I'm selecting it all with my 'Black Arrow', holding down the 'Alt' key, or 'Option' key on a Mac and just making a duplicate. And with it selected, just go over to 'Stroke' and pick something down here where it says Profile. Let's pick something nicer, like this first one here, the 'Width Profile'. Just gives it a nice kind of hand drawn look. I've bumped mine up to '3pt'. Looks a bit better. Like I said, Shape Builder Tool we're going to make this, fill it in, and do some cool colors. All right, that's it for Advanced Pen Tool stuff. I'll see you in the next video.