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Adobe Illustrator CC - Essentials Training

Class Project 04 - How to draw anything using the Curvature Tool in Adobe Illustrator (Redraw with the curvature tool and colour the owl)

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this tutorial we're going to learn how to use the Curvature Tool in Adobe Illustrator. We're going to draw these four guys. So let's get into it.

To get started, 'File', 'New Document'. Surprise, surprise, it's going to be 'Letter', let's click 'Create'. Let's save this one, and we'll save it into our 'Desktop', into our 'Illustrator Class Files', and this one is going to be called the 'Curvature Tool'. So 'Curvature Tool', that will do. Click 'Save'. Click 'OK'. We're going to bring in our image that we're going to trace. So let's go to 'File', 'Place'. It's in your 'Exercise Files'. Look for one called 'Redraw Image'. Let's make sure it's a 'Template' because it's going to put it in the background, and grayed out, and lock it, so it can't be moved.

Next thing I want to do is, I would like to use a Curvature Tool. Now, make sure, on your 'Layers' panel, you're on this top layer here. We're going to grab our Curvature Tool. Looks quite like the Pen Tool, right? Now, the Pen Tool is-- we're going to do that in the next tutorial. It's like the hard core version. The Curvature Tool is newish to Illustrator, and man, when you're learning, and you're new, there's very little time, we actually need to go through the really hard core tool. So, Curvature Tool, we love you. Making the Pen Tool that little bit easier to learn.

So I'm going to zoom in, remember, 'Command +', or 'Control +' on my PC. What do I hold down on my keyboard to move up? Remember, hold down 'space bar', get the hand, click, hold, and drag my mouse. Now we're going to draw our alien. We're going to start with the eye in the middle. Basically it's easier if I just show you, and you get a sense for it, and then we can draw the next ones together. So I'm going to click once on the top, once on the side, and nothing really happens until I move my cursor. I'm not doing anything, it's just connected naturally. Click once, that's all I'm doing, clicking once more and clicking a last time. Cool, huh! It goes through. All I did was click once with my mouse and it kind of knew that I was trying to draw curves, because I'm using the Curvature Tool.

What I'm going to do is a couple of things before I draw this next one. I'm going to make sure the Fill is set to 'None'. I'm going to put 'black' Stroke, that's fine. Also, what I'm going to do is, under 'View', let's turn off the Smart Guides. So if your text is on, like this, turn it 'off'. Sometimes it's super handy, like we'll do for the crown next, but sometimes it's a bit of a pain. So in this case, it's pain. So what we're going to do is draw this outer eye, and again, we could try, you definitely need more than two points, right? If I click on there, and there, just can't make it a circle. So I could click once, and try do it three. Getting there. It just doesn't get to kind of a nice circle. So a circle or an ellipse needs at least four points. If you have more, the more you have, kind of less smooth it looks. Pretty cool, huh!

So give that a go, do those circles. Then we're going to look at these other ones, pretty much the same thing. Let's start at the top here, click once. Click here again. And, where am I looking? The circle is easy enough, it's all four corners. This one here kind of turns in on itself. So what you're looking for is the apex or where the curve changes the most. So along the top here, that's where it changes, like this curve here. It changes the most at this top point, because it's kind of symmetrical. On this curve, where it kind of changes, it's about here, maybe it could be a bit further up like this. You can click and drag them, like I just did there, and moved him. Then you're looking for this curve this way. And where the middle of it is, just kind of about there, I'll click once, and you're like, "Doesn't work," but then you move your mouse often, it kind of tries to-- does a pretty good job, right?

So, where this curve goes all the way round-- so the Apex of this one changing here is around the corner here. Now, in this case, don't worry about the second line just yet. There's a little bit of faith that goes into this, so it's going to take some practice, but I could add another one here because there's a curve there, and another curve here, and there's a curve here. That's the kind of Apex of it, and there's another curve there. Another kind of Apex corner there, and you can kind of start to see what I'm doing. I can adjust this afterwards, I know that one's not quite right. Don't worry for your first pass, let's try another leg.

Now what I found through my practice is that the least amount of Anchor Points you can get away with, that's what these dots are so I know that, if I click on this side, and click on this side, then come up here, can you see, kind of fills up that bottom part for me. So I'm looking for that Apex, Apex of that curve. Apex of that peer, Apex of this curve is about there. There's one kind of there. There's one at the top here. There, I'm just going to go and click them all now. After a while you get kind of confident, you get to know where everything goes. And you see, when I get back to the beginning, that's the little icon, it's actually, you just click on it, and it works but just so you know, see that little icon, that little 0, it means it's going to kind of complete this complete path. Over here, it's going to be adding a new path. I want that one, that little icon with that 0, it means I'm going to kind of finish it all off. So it's kind of working. So that's the idea with the Curvature Tool. You block in that kind of hard stuff, or the core of it, then you can make adjustments afterwards.

Now remember, the Black Arrow, if I click on it, it moves things in its entirety, but the White Arrow that we looked at earlier on, this adjusts the finer points of it. And what I can do is, there's a big kind of mess over here so I can click on this. Now what you're looking for is, I'm going to zoom in a little bit. You can see, these Anchor Points here, they've got these things called Handles, that pop out. These handles influence the way the line goes through. So your Curvature Tool's putting these in automatically, they're always there but the Curvature Tool just kind of hides more, so a bit nerdy, but when we get to a point when we want some sort of finer adjustments, the nerdiness helps.

So what we might do is, you can see here, this curve doesn't actually go to the line properly. So I might have to move the Anchor Points. What influences the line quite a bit though is these Handles. They kind of pull the line. Watch this, if I grab one of the darker dots you can kind of see, if I'm pulling it in and out it adjusts where the line works. I can move it left and right. So it kind of influences it, like gravity. So what I'm going to do is drag it down here. First anchor point probably needs a bit of work down here. I'm just going to move it around, so you can do some finer adjustments now. I click on this one, drag it down. You can drag it in towards itself as well, most people forget you can do that. So in close to it, you can see, it's actually quite a tight curve. And the further out it comes, the more kind of exaggerated that curve is. So there's going to be a little bit of finesse that goes in this.

Now don't sweat it for your first version. We're not going to make this absolutely perfect. We're looking for just kind of a general understanding of the Curvature Tool even though I'm clearly in front of you trying to tell you this is not perfect. We're going to leave it there. What you might find is, say you've put in too little, say you've not got enough curves. What you can do back with the Curvature Tool here is, let's say we've got too many, I know we do, down here, there's kind of four in this part here. Just hover above them, and you can click on them, and hit the 'Delete' key. It just gets rid of them. I'm going to click on this guy, hit 'Delete' key. It just gets rid of them. Same thing to add them. Actually not. Actually kind of hover above and see the Curvature Tool changes to have this '+' here. So I want to add one there. Then I can go to—

I can move it, by just using this. Then if I want to make adjustments again, back to the 'White Arrow'. I said, don't worry about it, and I spent almost like two minutes worrying about it. So that's going to be it for this guy. Let's leave him, and move on to the next thing because the Curvature Tool is awesome, but it does curves. So I'm going back to the Curvature Tool, I'm at this crown here and if I click once, click once again, click once again, it's not going to work, right? It's trying to do curves, it's cool, looks kinda like a lily pad thing but it's not what I want. So you can use the Curvature Tool to do kind of straight corners. It's quite easy, all you need to do is double click for a Corner. So double click. Double click your mouse, double click your mouse, double click your mouse, double click your mouse. You get the picture, if you forget, and click once, and you're like, "Oops, forgot to do double click" you can just go back and double click it and it converts it back to a corner. One click is a curve, like we've already done, double click it, and it goes back to a corner. Double click. Double click, double click. And back to the beginning, that circle that we're looking for. Nice!

So that's how to do curves. Our very average looking alien and our very simple looking crown, which is corners, and we use that by double clicking. Now, Ninja time. Ninja has curves and corners, and this is more typical of what you're going to be doing. I'm going to zoom out a little bit. What I'd like to do is a mixture of both. So I'm going to work through it with you. We'll start down the bottom here, and work our way up. You've got to just kind of ask yourself the question. Until it becomes more of a habit, just ask yourself, is this a double click, or is this a single click? So is this a corner, or a curve? This thing here is a corner, so I got an edgy corner thing, sharp. So double click. This is a curve here, so remember, whereas the Apex, it's kind of-- it's only a small curve, but it's about there. Should I click once for a corner, or double click for a corner? That's right, once for a corner. Now this guy in here, you can kind of see, it's joined the curves. Nice. Now this bit here is our corner. There's a nice sharp change of direction. And double click. Up here, double click, click our crown, double click. Double click. You might be tempted to go all the way across here, but no, we've got to address this curve here. And it's clicking it once, because it's a curve. Here, sharp corner, double click.

A circle needs at least four points, so one, two, three. Let's give that a go. It's got one there, one there, don't worry about it, and go like, "Oh, it's not quite working." Then if you come around, look at that, it's looking good. Then you're back to here, and you're like "Oops, I clicked once, and I got a curve again." What do we do? We double click it, and it goes back to a corner. Click once for a curve, double click for a corner. Double click for a corner, this is a tricky one, because you're like, “Where's the curve?” There's the curve right there, so I click once there for a curve. Double click here for a straight line. And I double click here. It's kind of a weird one, right? So there's kind of a curve, then a straight line. Let's go to here, curve, double click for a corner. Back to the beginning, looking for that circle. And we have some sort of, like squat Ninja. He's like a Lego Ninja, or something.

Let's have a look at doing this inside one because that's, I guess, an interesting one as well. The circles, we could just use the Ellipse Tool, I realize but we're not going to, because we are learning the Curvature Tool. Just like at the beginning, we did the eye, it's just four clicks, because they're all curves, and we're doing all corners. It's pretty cool. We got pretty good circles. Now this guy here. So I'm going to start at this curve, because that's clearly a curve. Then we'll go around to here and this is one of those tricky ones again where there's a curve finishing, and a straight line starting. I know that because it's curved, but the curved part, that's what making the line curved. Now here I want to double click. I want to double click to get a straight line over here. Click once for a curve. Double click for a line. You can see this, and you're like, "It's not working." It's because we haven't finished the line yet. So double click here to get a straight line. Then back to once, you can see here, it's going to work. Click once for a curve.

There's a little bit of, I guess, experience that comes along with knowing some of these more exaggerated lines, but if you're thinking like "Why didn't he just grab the Rectangle Tool, then grab the Black Arrow, and do that?" Because that's exactly what I would do, but we're learning the Curvature Tool. We draw ellipses, and we'll probably do that for the center.

Let's look at the next one, actually we're not going to have a look at the next one. You're going to do this one by yourself. I want to see if you can do this. I want you to do him, I want you to color him, and I'd like to see an image of it. So stick it in the comments, or in the projects. I want you to see how this goes. You can fancy him up if you like, or just do him nice and simple. A nice simple icon, give him some color. I'd love to see this guy, to prove you've done it. And if you're up for it, let's color them all and do some sort of Ninja alien montage. I'd love to see what you've done with these. And yes, we're going to move on to the next exercise.