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Adding curves and smooth points

From: Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC

Video: Adding curves and smooth points

In this movie, we'll curve all of these segments using the Anchor

Adding curves and smooth points

In this movie, we'll curve all of these segments using the Anchor Point tool by way of Alt-dragging or Option-dragging with a Pen tool. And we'll also establish all of the necessary, smooth points, so that we have nicely curving arcs throughout our custom ampersand. So, as you can see here I've just gotten done drawing the base polygon using my Pen tool. So, at this point, I might as well start incurving the segments by pressing and holding the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and then you just want to drag on each one of these straight segments in order to curve it in.

Now, if you get this error message, it's because you didn't aim the cursor right, as I didn't just now. Now, you might figure the best thing to do is select Don't Show Again, so you don't see this irritating alert message. The problem is if you do that you may be dismayed by the fact that Illustrator just doesn't do anything, so I prefer to leave the alert message on. Because it does remind me that I need to aim better, so now I can see that I've got my cursor in place. I've still have the Alt key down, or the Option key on the Mac, and so I'll just go ahead and drag this segment like so.

If you don't get things exactly lined up, then you can Alt-drag or ption-drag again, and I'm doing so after zooming in, as you can tell here. And then, I'll Alt-drag or Option-drag this segment down, and I'll Alt-drag or Option-drag it over to the left just a little bit by dragging on the far left portion of that segment, and now I'll Alt-drag or Option-drag this segment up like so. I may need to Alt-drag or Option-drag the left-hand portion a little more to the left. Then I'll Alt-drag or Option-drag this guy by his left edge to see if that's going to work better.

It didn't. That's okay because I'll Alt-drag or Option-drag this edge downward. Now, this may not be everybody's cup of tea. Some of you may say, well, I think it's easier just to go ahead and create the smooth points manually and then drag the control handles around with the White Arrow tool, in which case, you should definitely continue to do so. But I find it very useful, even though I am an old school guy. I have been using Pen tool since, you know, day one back in 1987, but I do find it useful to be able to drag these segments directly and put them exactly where I want them to be and that's really the advantage.

It becomes a much more intuitive way to work over time, I believe. And also, it's less wear and tear on your wrist. Again, this is my opinion. I will go on record as saying I don't think this is absolute truth or anything along those lines. All right, now, I'll go ahead and Alt-drag or Option-drag this guy up in case it isn't evident that that's what I've been doing for the last, you know, several minutes here. All right, now, I'm going to go ahead and zoom out a little bit here, and what we want to do is make sure that every one of these intersections between these controls handles here, between these curving segments, is a smooth point because that way we'll avoid any kind of hitch in the path outline.

So, what I'm going to do is press the A key in order to switch to the White Arrow tool, and I'm going to turn off the template layer, just for a moment, so that we can better see what's going on. And I will go ahead and marquis these points right there in order to select them. In other words, I'm selecting everything that isn't an obvious quarter. And then, I'll shift-drag around these anchor points down here like so, and I think that selects everything. That guy wants to be a corner, so I'll leave him alone, and these guys want to be cusps as well.

And so, with these two points up here, these two points down here, these two over on the down left side, and these two on the up left side selected, I will go up to the control panel and select a second convert icon, which will convert the selected anchor points to smooth points. And that will just go ahead and make sure that we have nice smooth path outlines at these locations, so again, we don't have any tiny corners going on. All right, now, I'll bring back the template to see if we have a match, and most likely, we won't.

You'll probably see some misalignment going on, in which case you want to press the P key to switch back to your Pen tool, go ahead and zoom in. I am zooming in and out by pressing Ctrl along with the Space Bar, or Ctrl and Alt along with the Space Bar. That's Cmd and Option key on the Mac in place of the Ctrl and Alt keys. And now, I'll go ahead and Alt-drag or Option-drag the segment in like so. And because I've got a smooth point up here at this location, actually, on both sides of the segment, that will have a reciprocal effect on the opposite segment.

So, I'll go ahead and Alt-drag or Option-drag this guy in. And at some point, we should be able to get an exact match. Because those red anchor points are at the exact locations where I created my anchor points that are at work inside of the template. So, you can choose, if you've got this template available to you, how closely you want to match my ampersand. It doesn't really matter if you get it exactly right. I'm trying to do it just for the sake of the exercise here. Looks like I could Alt-drag or Option-drag this segment up. And now, by the way, because all of these are curving segments, I don't really have to work with the Pen tool.

I could just press the A key to switch back to the White Arrow tool and drag those segments directly like so. So, choose your poison. Whichever way you want to work. Or, obviously, if you get really desperate, then you can just go ahead and drag the control handles independently. But I urge you to give this a try just because it's a new way of working. And this gives you the chance to at least find out if it's the way that you want to work or not in the future. All right, so I'm going to go ahead and scoot down to this location here. It is pretty difficult to exactly match this template, I am finding, but if I were trying to match the template exactly, I will go on record again.

As saying that I think this would be an easier way to work, and it is, in fact, how I put the shape together in the first place. It's just that because I'm trying to exactly match the past here, that I'm having troubles doing so. But I should be able to do it. All right, that looks pretty darn good, I think. And now, I figure we might as well give these edges a try here. So, I'm going to go ahead and switch to the Pen tool by pressing the P key because, after all, these are straight segments, so I can't drag them directly with White Arrow tool.

And now, I'll go ahead and press the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and I'll drag this guy out, and then I'll Alt or Option-drag this guy in, and then I'll Alt or Option-drag this guy out like so in order to get that waving effect. And I'll Alt or Option-drag this guy down at the bottom out, and I'll Alt or Option-drag this guy, oh missed. Click Okay. Alt or Option-drag this guy up here like so. Just on a fluster, don't you know? I'm worried about doing this in front of you; it was so effortless when I was doing it for myself. But I'll go ahead, and I'll Alt or Option-drag this out a little bit.

And now, I'll Alt or Option-drag, be careful Deek, up here, and then I'll Alt or Option-drag this. Okay, I think I've got a match; that looks great to me. Well, gosh, isn't that a lot of fun, I'll go ahead and turn off the template layer, so that we can see this path outline, and I'm going to press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool. I'm going to switch on the path outline to select the entire thing. And notice that I've got a black stroke and no fill. I want the opposite, so I'm going to press Shift+X. In order to swap the fill in the strokes, so we now have a black fill and no stroke whatsoever.

And I'll click off the shape, and we now have the base ampersand, which is to say a backward number three. Now, awkward as that may have looked, I will say that I think that you will find, being able to Alt or Option-drag with a Pen tool to turn straight segments into curving segments, will work wonders for you in the future, here inside of Illustrator CC.

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Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC

20 video lessons · 8868 viewers

Deke McClelland
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