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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang, this is Deke McCullen, welcome to Deke's techniques. This week I'm going to show you how to draw the pen tool cursor in Adobe Illustrator without ever once touching the Pen tool. So the idea is this, we're going to draw those black and grey lines right there using the Standard Lines Segment tools, not because it's easier, but because it's more precise. And then we'll draw the other shapes obviously with the Ellipse and Rectangle tool. We'll fuse everything together and round off the edges, like so, and then we'll rotate the cursor into it's proper position. Just because it's easier to draw up right and then rotate it.
In that way we get this exactly vertical line right there, and then finally we'll add the six pointed asterisk because after all, that's what you see when you first start using the Pen tool in Illustrator, now. You might say, it's kind of unlikely that I'm going to be drawing the pen tool on a regular basis Deke. And that's true. But this is a very interesting and useful exercise in creating basic schematic artwork. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. Let's get to work on that Pen tool cursor. And because we're going to be drawing the cursor in phases, we'll assemble it in the pasteboard.
As opposed to the art board. So, step number one is to go up to the View menu and choose Show Grid and make sure, by the way, that snap to Grid is turned on. And I'm going to zoom into this area above the top left corner of the art board. And you can work against this dark pasteboard if you like, but if that doesn't serve your needs, then just go ahead and press Ctrl+K or Cmd+K on the Mac. In order to bring up the Preferences dialog box. Switch to User Interface, and change the canvas color. Canvas being the name, at least in this dialog box for the paste board to white, and you'll end up with this effect here. Then go ahead and click OK.
Alright, I'm going to go ahead and zoom in just a little bit more, and we're mostly going to be drawing by the numbers. Just because in the course of reverse engineering this project, it turns out to be the best approach. I'll start things off by selecting the Line Segment tool, then I'll click say right about there. In order to bring up the Line Tool Options dialogue box. And I'm going to change the length value to 102 points, and I'm going to change the angle value to 90. And then I'll enter plus 25.
When I press the tab key, that changes the angle to 115 degrees, and you may wonder where in the world this 25 thing comes from. 90 degrees is stright up and down. 25 degrees goes ahead and gives the thing a little bit of an angle. Well if I click OK, we end up with this line right there. And it's all based on the appearance of the Pen tool cursor. I just had to basically select the Pen tool and look at it a bunch of times. But I ultimately figured out that this angle of a line was going to work out well. And you'll see that this turns out to be the case in just a moment.
Anyway I'm going to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, drag that guy down to about there. I'll select the line segment tool again and click on this end point in order to add another line and this angle length is going to be 52 points, end angles going to be 270 minus 25 degrees. And then I'll press the Tab key. I see that's 245 degrees, fine. Click OK and I end up with this line segment. And finally, I'm going to click on this anchor point, and I'm going to change it's link to 16 points.
And the angle will be 270 degrees. I'd like to enter negative 90 degrees to send it straight down, but you can't so 270 degrees is the way to go. Then click OK and we end up with this short segment right there. Now grab your Black Arrow tool, marquee these path outlines and press Ctrl+J, or Cmd+j on the Mac in order to joint them together. And what I like to do after a join is press the a key to switch to the White Arrow tool, click off the path outline. And then just drag the anchor points, the middle anchor points around.
To make sure they're single anchor points instead of very close double anchor points. In any case, everything is working out for me. So, I'll press Ctrl+Z a couple of times here in order to undo that change. And then, I'll press the v key to switch to the Black Arrow tool. I'll click on this path outline to select it. Switch to the Reflect tool, which is available in the Rotate tool flyout menu. And I'll Alt-click or Option-click on this top Anchor Point in order to bring up the Reflect tool dialogue box, change the axis to vertical and click Copy in order to create a copy of that path outline.
Now switch back to the Black Arrow tool. Shift+click on the other Path outline, so both of them are selected. And press Ctrl+J, or Cmd+J on the Mac to join them together into a single path. Next, we need to change the stroke attributes, starting with the line width. Change that to 10 points, and then click on the word Stroke, and change the cap to round cap. And change the corner to round join, in order to produce this effect here. Now, we need to draw another path, right down here through the center. And this time I'm going to just draw it with a Line tool.
But, I need my Smart Guides, so I'll go up to the View menu and choose Smart Guides to turn them on. And then, I'll drag down from this top anchor point until, I snap into alignment with this guy, right there. But, I'm not seeing any snapping info. I'm not seeing the little heads up stuff that you normally see with smart guides, and that's because snap to guides is turned on. I need to turn it off. So, I'll press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on a Mac in order to undo that path, and I'll go up to the view menu and turn off snap to grid.
So, the idea is that smart guides and snap to grid often interfere with each other. And now just so I make sure I get everything exactly right, I am going to drag from this left anchor point over to the right one, and that's just going to serve us the kind of guideline. Now I will drag from the top anchor point down until I intersect with that horizontal line. Now, I can press the v key to switch to the Black Arrow tool, click on the horizontal path outline, and delete it by pressing the Backspace or Delete key. Also, to avoid any conflicts up in this region, I'm going to press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool, click on this top anchor point, and press Shift+Down Arrow to nudge it down 10 pixels.
And it'll just make sure that we don't have too many anchor points around this top edge. When we trace the outline. Now, I'm going to switch to the Ellipse tool, which I can get from the Shape tool flyout menu. I'll Alt or Option-click on that bottom anchor point to bring up the Ellipse dialog box. Because I press the Alt or Option key, I'll create the shape from the center outward. I want it to be 16 points wide by 16 points tall. So now I'll click okay. And I end up with this effect here. Thing is, it's too big, because I've got a stroke and no fill.
I want to the opposite, so I'll press Shift X, in order to swap the fill and stroke attributes, like so. Next, I'm going to switch to my Rectangle tool. I'm going to click any old place, here inside the paste board. And I just happen to know, I came up with these values through trial and error. Happen to know that the width value wants to be 87 points, and the height value wants to be 24 points. And now click OK. In order to create that rectangle go ahead and switch back to my Black Arrow tool. And I'll go ahead and drag the rectangle by it's center point, up and to the right in my case, so that I see all of these other sections.
So that the top edge is now intersecting with the bottom anchor points and the Pen tool cursor. And I'm also intersecting with the center of the ellipse. And, that's exactly where I want to be. Now I'm going to round off this rectangle just a little bit by going up to the Effect menu, choosing Stylize, and choosing Round corners. And I came up with a radius value of five pixels, and then I'll click OK, in order to round things off ever so slightly there. I'm going to zoom in and I need to round off the Pen tool cursor as well, the edges.
Because again if I select the Pen tool you can see that not only is its bottom a little bit rounded, but its edges appear to be rounded as well. And they would appear even more so if they were represented as a vector. But while I do want to round off these edges and these down here too, these corners. I don't want to round off the top of the pen. So I need to divide it into a couple of separate shapes by grabbing my Rectangle tool. Just dragging any old place through the pen like so. And go ahead and lift the pens attributes by getting the eye dropper tool and clicking on one of these paths outlines.
So we have a stroked path. Then, switch to the Black Arrow tool. Shift click on this path to select it. Go to the Window menu and choose Path Finder to bring up the Path Finder panel. You want to click on this guy right there, outline. And that will go ahead and lose all the attributes, but it's also gone ahead and cut the shapes according to their outlines. Now you can hide the Path Finder Panel. Press the I key to switch back to the eyedropper, and click on that path to lift the attributes once again. Notice we've got a group on the far left side of the Control panel.
We need to break it apart by going to the Object menu and choosing the Ungroup command. Now that I have a bunch of path outlines, as verified by the word path on the far left side of the Control Panel, I can click on this path to lift those attributes. Then, press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool. Click off the path outline, select this guy, and Shift-click on this one, this little bit of horizontal path, and press the Delete key. Or the backspace here on a PC to get rid of 'em. Then click on this path, and click on this one, and go up to Effect menu and choose the second Round Corners command.
Which will bring up the Dialogue Box so you can press the Down Arrow key to change the radius value to four points. Turn on the Preview checkbox and you can see we have just a little bit of rounding going on, but it does not effect that top point. Now I'll go ahead and click OK in order to expect that change, now what we want to do is take our work so far. Go ahead and select all of it and let's go ahead and make a copy of it because we're going to kind of destroy it here, so go ahead and Shift-drag is what I'm doing. I will press the Alt key in the PC, or the Option key on the Mac, in order to make it duplicate.
And we want to convert all this stuff into filled path outlines. And you do that by first going to the Object menu and choosing Expand Appearance. And that goes ahead and draws path outlines that conform to the round corners effect we applied a moment ago. Then go up to the Object menu, choose Path and choose Outline Stroke. And we end up outlining all the strokes as you see here. Then return to the Path Finder Panel and click on the first shape mode Unite, in order to fuse all those shapes together.
And now we've got a single path representing the Pen tool, and I am going to zoom in on the top of it, because I wanted you to know how very smooth things are we have just three anchor points. If I head left this path outline right there, tucked all the way to the top. We would have ended up with something like two dozen anchor points. It's ridiculous. So that's why I moved it down a little bit. I'll go ahead and zoom out. And now, I want to take this Pen tool. And you might have thought the entire time here. Well, why are we drawing this thing upright? When the Pen tool cursor is at a jaunty angle? Well, because it's easier to draw it upright, and then rotate it to a jaunty angle.
And that jaunty angle. Is 25 degrees. The reason I was adding 25 degrees to 90 degrees and then subtracting it from 270 degrees was because the whole thing is going to get rotated 25 degrees in the end. I'm going to go ahead and switch over to the Rotate tool, and then I'll double click on it and enter an angle value of 25 degrees. And that makes this guy exactly upright, which is the way it wants to be. Now click OK in order to apply that change. Now what we need to do, because the Pen tool cursor involves a little asterisk when you're starting things off, we need to draw that asterisk.
We'll be doing so using the Line Segment tool once again. And I'm going to start things off by clicking pretty much in any old place here. And I'm going to change the link value to 64 points, and I'm going to change the angle value to, 270 degrees is just fine. And then click OK. And I end up with this unfilled unstroked line. Which is not what I want. So I'll press the I key to get the Eye Dropper tool, and click on this path outline right there in order to lift its attributes. So the great thing is, I still am preserving all of my work. I can go back and look at this thing and figure out how I put it together in the first place.
Because if I had to rely on just this version of the Pen tool, I would never have a hope of remembering how I made it, say two weeks from now. Now I'll go ahead and select the new path outline I just created. And I want to turn it into an asterisk in a couple of steps. I'll go up to the Effect menu. Choose Distrort and Transform. And then choose the Transform command. And I'll change the rotate value to 90 degrees, and then click OK. And that creates a kind of virtual rotation of this path outline. You can see, it still runs straight up and down.
And I just found it was easier when trying to create the other little markings that appear next to the Pen Tool cursor, to keep this first guy straight up and down. Now I'll go back up to Effect Menu, choose the second Transform command. I'll get an alert message asking if I really want to add another helping of this effect. I do, so I'll click the Apply New Effect button. And now I'll change the angle value to 60 degrees, turn on the Preview check box and click inside the Copies value and bring it up to two copies. And I end up getting this asterisk right here, which is exactly the way it works.
If you press the P key to get the Pen tool, you'll see that it is a six point asterisks. Now, what I need to do is grab this guy here and align him to the Pen tool. So, I drag that top anchor point to this location so, it snaps into alignment and then I press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac to bring up the Mauve dialog box. And I ended up changing the horizontal value to 63 points. And the vertical value to 18 points. That just happened to be the alignment that looked good to me. And then I'll go ahead and click the OK button in order to accept that change.
And now I'm going to select both of these guys. So I'll drag around both of them with the Black Arrow tool. And create yet another copy by Shift+Alt dragging, or Shift+option dragging on a Mac. And then we want to select this guy, just him. And expand the asterisk by going up to the Object menu, choosing Expand Appearance, and then you need to go to the Object menu and choose Paths, and then choose Outline Stroke. So we're going through the same set of operations we applied to the Pen tool. And then you want to bring up the Pathfinder Panel, and you want to click on Unite in order to achieve this effect here, and that's it.
Just to keep them together, I went ahead and Shift, clicked on the Pan Tool cursor so that they're both selected. And I went up to the Object menu. You might think that you'd group' em but the better way to work is to drop down the Compound path, and choose Make. And that way Illustrator will treat these objects as a single path outline. And so they'll always have a uniform set of fill and stroke attributes. Having done that, I'm going to drag the Pen tool into place by creating a copy of it here inside the document.
And now, I'm going to go ahead and zoom in so I can better see what I'm doing And I will click on the first color swatch up here in the Control Panel and I'll change it to the bright green, so that we have the proper coloring. With snap to grid turned off by the way, I am going to go ahead and drag this guy over. So that the left edge of this compound half aligns to one, two, three grid marks in. And the bottom edge of the Pen tool cursor right here aligns to this increment, the one just above the word inactive.
All right, I'll go ahead and zoom out. And I'll turn on this Pen States layer, which contains all the other states of the Pen tool cursor. And I'll go ahead and drag this bright green square, which represents the selected art, down onto Pen States so that all of the pens are together. And the final thing I recommend you do, by the way, is select all the stages of your artwork, and go ahead and hide 'em just, so that they're not cluttering up your view by creating another layer. Which you can do by Alt+clicking or Option+clicking on the little page icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
And I'm going to change the color of this layer to light red. And I usually call this kind of layer build Because this is where I build my artwork. And then, I'll click OK. And then, you can drag that little green square that represents the selected artwork up to the build layer and turn it off in order to hide it from view. But, of course, all your work is protected so you can come back to it any time you like. And now, I'll press Ctrl+quote in order to hide my grid. I will press the Tab key to hide the panels, and I'll press Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on the Mac in order to center my artwork.
And that friends is how you create a precise representation of the Pen Tool cursor without ever once using the Pen Tool here inside Illustrator. All right, next week we're back inside Photoshop wherein I'm going to introduce you to the exciting world of aerial photography using a Go Pro attached to an unmanned remote controlled quad copter. Deke's Techniques, each and every week, keep watching.
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