FREELessons: 20Length: 3.3 hours

Next lesson playing in 5 seconds

  • Overview
  • Transcript

2.7 How to Use the Pen Tool in Illustrator

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use the Pen Tool in Illustrator. You'll also see how to use it in conjunction with the Curvature Tool to draw more complex yet easily adjustable shapes. The Pen Tool is very powerful, so mastering it is an important step in learning how to draw in Illustrator.

2.7 How to Use the Pen Tool in Illustrator

Welcome back everyone. This video is all about the pen tool. We're gonna draw these icons. You might be thinking hey, these are the same icons from the curvature tool. They are. We're gonna compare the curvature tool with the pen tool because really as an Illustrator user you're probably gonna need both. So let's jump in now and figure out the pros and cons for the pen tool. All right to get started, we're gonna redraw the same things. Just to kind of see clearly the differences between the curvature tool and the pen tool. Save some time if you go to file open, in your exercise files there's one called pen I've just kind of imported that graphic already for us, ready to go. And the reason we have the curvature tool and the pen tool is the pen tool is kind of a really kinda staple for pretty much all graphic design programs and 3D and drawing, lots of things use the pen tool. So once you've learned it in Illustrator, you can use it in the same tool and works the same way in Photoshop, in InDesign, Sketch Up, 3D Studio Max, After Effects. Lots of different programs you use the pen tool. The curvature tool is new and just a bit easier. But really you need to know both. The slightly harder version, or more controlled version of the pen tool, and the curvature tool, which is just a bit easier. So, we're gonna use the pen tool. First thing to note is if you got Caps Lock on your keyboard. Okay, so just look down on your keyboard. You can turn Caps Lock to make your type upper case and lowercase. By clicking it on and off. It changes it from this pen tool to the cross hairs. I'm gonna show you that because you might have it on and you may like, wow, freaking out. Why does mine not look like Dan's? So just tap it on and off, you can decide, it doesn't change it at all, it's just a different way of working. We're gonna stay with the little fountain pen looking thing, okay. And we'll start with the funnel here because it's kind of the opposite of the curvature tool. The pen tool draws by default straight lines. So if I clicked once maybe with the curvature tool it gave us a curve. If I clicked once with the pen tool once, once, it just gives us corners. So corners are awesome with the pen tool. Just keep clicking, and come back to the beginning and click once. Let's remove the fill, so I'm gonna have a fill of none, and a stroke of black, and let's get back to this guy. So how do we do curves, then? Okay, so it's slightly different. Let's pick a curve. Let's pick, say, this curve here. Yep, and you click, hold your mouse down, and drag. And then you get this random thing. Well, we've seen it before, right? We saw it with the curvature tool, it gives us the fine adjustment. And I guess that's why the pen tool is the way it is. It gives us fine adjustment straight out of the bat where the curvature tool does a bit of thinking for us. So what we do is click it, and where do we drag it? You drag it whichever way you want the line to drawing. So I'm gonna keep drawing down this way, so I'm gonna drag it down here. And how far do I draw it? This comes with experience, so it's kind of hard to kind of guess this first one. So we're just gonna drag it out this far. Okay, and nothing really happens right. You're like it's not until you let go and you kind of move the mouse out and you're like okay, that's what it's doing. Remember that anchor point, and these are the handles that kind of influence that line. Now same point before kinda halfway through a curve, kinda breaking this into two, because I can try and do it with one, but there’s just not enough control with just one anchor point. Kinda works. So what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna do one there, one there, and maybe one over there. So clicking, dragging, okay and then you wanna try and see I can get real fine control by just kinda dragging it around. So give it a wiggle cuz sometimes this way, sometimes that way. It's a little hard to I guess to get your hit around when you're first using it. So don't be afraid to move this in and out. Up and around to see if we can get the curve. Awesome, okay, where's my other curve gonna be? Remember, we can adjust it afterwards. By using the white arrow, so don't be to worried about your first go at it. Click. Okay and clicking once like I did there it's gonna give me a corner so that's not what I want, right? So I'm gonna undo, remember clicking, holding, and dragging following the line around. Cool, you're gonna get to a point here where you're like actually I just wanna click once because that curve is good. But we really wanna corner, right, cuz if I do this and then try and do this, we get this sharp corner. So I get to here, click and drag out, and you can see this destroying the line, you're like, man, I really wanted it to, well, it was looking good. Don't worry, we put in these first anchor points and handles only so that we can adjust them afterwards. So I'm gonna drag it like this way, drag it up this way, drag it up this way. When we get back to the beginning what we need to do to finish this thing is We don't just want to click once, like we did the curves, so we decide, is it a corner? Okay, if we want it to be a corner we click once, it gives it kind of a sharp into it. But if you want it to be curved, you click hold and dragged it,you kind of see i dragged it out and you get this kinda little handle popping out. It's a little bit kinda strange, it takes a little bit of practice. Now, mine looks okay, okay. Yours might look really bad. That's totally okay and what we can do is we can look to fix it. So let's grab the direct selection tool, maybe the White Arrow. It allows us to do some fine detail adjustments. This is the biggest, ugliest thing. Now there's this curve here. Like it did with the curvature tool, there's these two handles kind of affecting this line. This one's kind of okay, it's this massive guy here. He's kind of doing battle with this poor little guy. Okay, so we're gonna say, you be a bit smaller and be less influential on that line. And I'm happy with that. I'm happy enough with this. Here we go, okay. So you can do this fine, kinda see-saw adjustment. You can move them around, just like we did with the curvature tool. All right, so here we go. Now, I'm really messing around with it. It's looking pretty good. So a couple of things with the pen tool. Often it can be easier to turn off View > Smart Guides, mine are turned off. And let's look at how to add, remove, and convert those corners, okay. So let's say this one here is accidentally a corner. With the pen tool, it has its kind of special own tool called the Anchor Point Tool, okay, this will convert anchor points. Okay, so you click and hold down the pen tool in this guy here. So, click it once will turn it into a corner, click and drag out from the anchor point, will turn it into a curve. Click once, you're a corner; click and drag, you're a curve. What people tend to do is to drag this out, they’re not sure which way to drag it and they’ll try and do something like this. They’re like, how’s this? And you kinda see what I’m doing, right, it’s kind of looping back on itself. So if you’re like man, that’s doing some weird spaghetti stuff, it’s probably on the wrong side. All right, let’s move on to doing the circle. Yes, we should probably just use the ellipse tool but I’m gonna use the pen tool to show you how it works. So drawing a circle. We know that it kind of needs to be in all four corners. Click and drag out, that's the first one, it's the hard one. You're like it's nothing, cuz if I just start with the clicking once here, and then started dragging out, it's gonna work kind of, untill I get back around to the beginning. Cuz I see to that to be a corner point, right? And you end up with that. So, the very first one on faith, I'm gonna drag it out to kinda create some sort of curve. Okay, I'm gonna click and drag you out. I'm gonna click and drag you out. I'm gonna click and drag you out. Wrong way, that way. Spaghetti, good way. And back to the beginning, I'm gonna click and drag out. So, my circle? Terrible, terrible circle. I guess I wanna show you this cuz I wanna show you how to get nice symmetrical looking things. So I'll show you a real circle. So a circle. The ellipse tool. If I draw this out there's nothing different between, well other then that one's beautiful and that one's ugly, this one has the same sort of construction. Watch this. Can I see? I got my white arrow clinging on the ellipse. And you can just see it's got anchor points at all corners but they're exact. And can you see, this is the big thing, can you see these anchor points completely across from each other and they run parallel. They're the same length. You can see my ones, particularly the top one. These are reasonably across from each other, but you can see that one points that way. That one points that way. Gonna zoom in. So, to get this to be symmetrical, we need this top one to be nice and flat. It's not gonna be perfect, just so you know. But this is how to get kind of balanced lines or nice looking curves, if you're like man, I can never get it right. It's probably because you need these ones to be somewhat symmetrical. Better, it's getting better. You see they need to be the same length as well. See this one's short, this one's tall, so you back up a little bit, buddy. You probably need to back up a little bit as well. And you can start to see it's getting better. [LAUGH] Okay, I just want you to, I guess, get the understanding of how these guys all interact together, that's there's kinda bit of a balance thing. Kinda the same length, kinda the same angles, will give you a nicer-looking. That's better, right, better. All right, let's go and look at doing, we've done the funnel. Let's look at doing our last one together, which is this guy, a mixture of both. So pen tool, what am I doing? It's a corner, so I click once. Big curve, click and drag right here somewhere. Click and drag. Click and drag. Man, but don't worry, I need a corner there but I need to back him up. Okay? But I can do that once I'm finished. Click and drag, back to the beginning, click once. Grab my wire, drag it out. And just you know like the first 20 things you're gonna draw, you'll slowly gonna get better and better as you get accustomed to kind of this how life works with the pen tool. And if you are somebody who dabbles and does the pen tool once every six months, you're probably not gonna get hugely experience with it. So when you're gonna, I don't know, I've had jobs where I've had to redraw people's faces with lines in it. A job like that gives you loads of experience. With the pen tool and its quirks and you start getting good at it, like most things, it's all about just kind of getting in and using it for quite a bit. All right, the next thing we'll look at is grab the pen tool and if you wanna add, say we needed some more control. So this one here I'm gonna, see the icon changes from the asterisk to little plus, I'll add another one. If you wanna get rid of one, all you need to do, you don't need to do anything, you just hover above it, can you see this anchor point here? Goes from over here, it's gonna add, see the little plus? But here, it's gonna say minus, let's click on, I'm gonna add it back in. Grab my wire, drag it back over here. And that my friends is the pen tool. All right, is there any other tips, I wanna give you one more. And if you click once and you start dragging, you're like, actually I've messed this up, and you're like, go, stop doing it, okay. You can just hit the Esc key on the keyboard just kinda disconnects it and you can either go edit undo. Or just hit the delete key twice, once, twice, kind of start again. Remember Caps Lock changes it from this cross hairs and it doesn't matter, it works the same way. Just I guess a little bit more precise with the cross hairs. I don't know why I just got use to using it with the little fountain pen so I use it by just tapping the Caps Lock. And one more tip is, if you do kind of, somehow, magically let go of this thing. You're like no, I've got a line, I wanna continue it, cuz I've maybe done some beautiful work, I don't wanna have to restart. What you can do is, can you see the icon? The little asterisk means I'm gonna start a new line. Watch this, when it goes to the little forward slash. That means I'm gonna, hey, connect to where I was. So now, kinda connecting up to where I was before. So starting a line again, just gotta give it a click. And that, my friends, is a terrible flame. You are gonna spend a little bit more time, and get it looking great. I want you to then work on this, work on all of these guys. And what I'd love to see is both your curvature tool and your pen tool exercises side-by-side. Okay, so color them in, and I'd like you to, I guess, send me your side-by-sides, so that we can kinda see which one kinda came out the best. And also, drop a comment and just say, just, I found the pen tool just so much easier, having the control. Or, man, I'm gonna use the curvature tool. So just let me know the pros and cons. What you find good, what you find bad. Remember on Twitter it's @TutsPlus, and also make sure you tag me personally. I'm @DanLovesAdobe and on Instagram I am @BringYourOwnLaptop. All right friends, I'll see you after you've done your homework. I'll be checking and we'll get started with the pencil tool. See you in that video next

Back to the top