Drawing Shapes with the Pen Tool






Drawing Shapes with the Pen Tool

This section walks you through drawing some other basic shapes — because knowing the best ways to do that can make the more complex shapes much easier to draw. Take, for example, a garden-variety circle — shapes don’t get any simpler than that . . . or do they? When you draw one in Illustrator, you can get widely differing results with the Pen tool.

Drawing a sad, lumpy circle with the Pen tool

You’re probably saying to yourself, “Why would anyone be foolish enough to draw a circle by using the Pen tool when you can draw a perfect circle in a single step by using the Ellipse tool?” (which I cover in Chapter 4). A couple of reasons are

  • Practice makes perfect. A circle is an object made entirely of smooth anchor points. Master the circle and you’re the master of smooth curves!

  • The Ellipse tool makes perfect circles every time. Sometimes you may want to be a little more creative than that, and drawing the imperfect circle you want with the Pen tool can be a lot faster than modifying a perfect circle created with the Ellipse tool.

So, without further ado, follow these steps, as shown in Figure:

Click To expand
Figure: Drawing a circle (sort of) by using the Pen tool.
  1. Hold down the Shift key and click and drag to the right with the Pen tool; extend the direction point line about 1/4 inch.

  2. Keep pressing the Shift key, click about 1/2 inch above and to the right of the first anchor point, and drag up about 1/4 inch.

    You’ve drawn an eye-pleasing arc — kind of a skateboard-ramp sorta thing.

  3. Keep pressing the Shift key, click about 1/2 inch above the second anchor point (directly above the first anchor point), and drag left about 1/4 inch.

    You’ve drawn a lovely half circle. You’re actually more than halfway there.

  4. With your left hand developing a cramp from holding down the Shift key, click about 1/2 inch to the left of the first anchor point and directly opposite the second anchor point, and then drag down about 1/4 inch.

    (You can probably guess where I’m going with this last click. . . .)

  5. Click the first anchor point, drag to the right about 1/4 inch, and then (finally) release the Shift key.

    Your creation is a perfectly lumpy circle! If your circle isn’t as round as you want, select the Direct Selection tool (the hollow arrow) and tweak the points and direction points until the circle looks less lumpy.

TipĀ 

Congratulations — you just drew a circle! Try drawing a second circle by using the same steps. And another. You’ll find that not only does each circle get easier and better, but you’ll have much more control whenever you create a smooth curve anywhere.

Drawing a heart

Ah, a real challenge. None of this “circle” stuff for you! Still, similarities to the circle abound. You do need four anchor points — two of them smooth points. And most of the anchor points need to be in similar positions to the anchor points you drew for the circle. Hmmm. Figure shows the procedure in all its glory. Just complete the following steps:

  1. Click and drag up about 1/4 inch; use the Shift key to constrain the angle of the direction point line to a perfectly vertical line.

  2. Move your cursor about 3/4 inch above and 1/2 inch to the right of the first anchor point and click and drag up about 1/4 inch. Use the Shift key to constrain the angle of the direction point.

  3. Move your cursor about 1/2 inch to the left and above the first anchor point, and then click and drag down about 1/4 inch.

    This procedure is almost too easy, isn’t it? Well, take heart (so to speak). The next step tests your mettle.

  4. Press the Alt key (Option on a Mac), click the anchor point you just created, and drag up about 1/4 inch.

    This action breaks the two control-handle lines and sets you up for a nice, curved-corner point at the top of the heart.

  5. Move your cursor about 1/2 inch to the left of the last anchor point and then click and drag down about 1/4 inch.

    TipĀ 

    Again, you can press the Shift key to make sure you’re dragging a perfectly vertical line.

  6. Move your cursor onto the first point, press the Alt key (Option on a Mac) and click and drag down about 1/4 inch.

    This completes the heart. With all the practice you have, this shape probably looks a lot better than that circle you drew in the previous exercise.

    Click To expand
    Figure: Drawing a heart with the Pen tool



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