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Adobe Illustrator has long been the most popular and viable vector-drawing program on the market but, for many, the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials , author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland teaches the key features of Illustrator in a way that anyone can understand. He also goes beyond that, showing users how to get into the Illustrator "mindset" to make mastering Illustrator simple and easy. The training covers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text and gradients, and color management and printing features. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this time it is going to make sense. Exercise files accompany the training.
In this exercise I'm going to show you a few more ways to modify points and control handles inside of a Bezier curve. And if you'd like to join me I'm working inside of a document called The sharp scales.ai that contains my path in progress. I've only traced a little bit of the left side of the creature's face, its right side of course. And it occurs to me by this point in time that I could do a better job of matching these scales here, these sharp scales, to the scales that I painted in my underlying tracing template.
So I figure what I'll do is, using the white arrow tool, which I've selected, I'll go ahead and marquee a bunch of points like so in order to select those anchor points right there. And now I'd like to see you what the control handles look like, so I can drag them around in order to better match the contours of the tracing template, but the problem is I can't see those control handles. And this of the way it's been inside Illustrator forever now, for 20 years. When you had multiple points selected like this, you couldn't see the corner handles between the points, or the segments between the points.
Well, Adobe has thoughtfully gotten rid of this limitation inside of Illustrator CS3, but you have to turn the limitation off by going up to the Control palette, and notice these two handle icons right there. There's the selected icon which says: Hide handles for multiple selected anchor points, which is tidy albeit, that prevents us from seeing too many confusing anchor points on screen, but it's very limiting as well. Better I think is this first option: Show handles for multiple selected anchor points. Go ahead and turn that option on and all of a sudden you can see all your anchor points and check it out. You can modify them as well.
Again in the old days, if you were able to find a control handle and modify it, then you would all of a sudden deselect some points. Now all the points remain selected, which is a really wonderful thing I have to say. From an old user's perspective, I really appreciate this one. So I'm going to go ahead and drag this control handle over as well in order to better match the contours inside of my original acrylic painting. I can still continue drawing though if I want to. I'm going to go back and grab my Pen Tool.
And then I am going to Alt drag from this point right here, or Option drag from that point, to convert it from a smooth point to a cusp point, and now I'm going to drag up like this, up this hump here and over the top like this, and then I'm going to come down and down over here as well. And it strikes me at this point, as I'm looking at what I've drawn, that even though my template sort of called for a little bit of roundness on this spike, that I want to keep my spikes nice and sharp. It's a smooth point. How do I go ahead and convert it from a smooth point to a corner? Well, you've got these convert options up here in the Control palette Notice this guy will go ahead and convert the selected anchor point or points to smooth points.
But that's not what I want, cause it's already a smooth point, so that's not going to do me any good. What about this guy right here: Convert it to a corner point? Well that's not really good either. Watch what happens. If I convert it to a corner point then my Bezier control handles go away and remember, a couple of exercises ago, a few exercises ago now, I was telling you that one of the big rules when you're drawing Bezier paths with the Pen Tool is that if you're going to have any control handles associated with the segment then you want two control handles - one going out and one coming back in, so that you're adjusting the curves on both sides, otherwise you're going to get this weird flattening effect and it's not going to look right at all and that's the result of converting a smooth point to a corner point up here in the Control palette. It just lops off the control handles.
Doesn't do no one no good, so I'm going to undo that modification. What's the better way to work? Well it's a little bit more complicated, but I'll show it to you. If you go to the Pen Tool, click and hold and you'll see that the last tool on the flyout menu is this guy called the Convert Anchor Point Tool and you can get to it by pressing Shift+C. I'll show you how this tool works. Notice it just looks like a little top of a triangle. And here's how you use the tool. You can either click on a point in order to convert it to a corner point, in order to lop off it's control handles, which is not what we want to do.
You can drag however from the point in order to convert it from whatever kind of point it is to a smooth point that has symmetrical control handles and if you drag a control handle with this tool, check it out, it goes ahead and moves the control handles independently of each other, so that you convert what used to be a smooth point into, now into a cusp point. All right now press the A key to switch back to the Arrow Tool here, to the white arrow tool, click on my point so that I can see this control handle and move it down into a better location, and it's okay that I get this sort of wandering to this scale because I figure, Hey, this animal's a real-life animal. It's going to have some weird stuff going on in its flesh if you were to look very closely at it, not its flesh, but its whatever passes for flesh on such a monstrous creature as this one here. All right though. Something else about that Convert Point Tool, is you can get to it on the fly. You don't have to actually select it from the flyout menu. If you want to be a power user bless you, then stick with your Pen Tool and notice if you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, when you're using the Pen Tool, you get the Convert Point Tool on the fly, so that you can do your drags to get your smooth point in this case.
Or you can drag your control handles in order to move them independently of each other, even if they were previously stuck in alignment with each other, because they were a smooth point. Now the only exception is I still have the Alt key down, by the way this entire time, or the Option key on the Mac. The only exception to this is when you move your point over an existing endpoint, in which case you switch to that Pen continue to draw cursor, which allows you to convert that end smooth point to a cusp point right there, which we've seen before. We've seen that feature before, when we were looking at how to create cusp points in the first place, and at this point I would just continue to move along here and add more scales to this creature's incredibly threatening and scary back. Oh my goodness, it scares me so much, but in a good way. I love to be scared by a scary creature like this one here. There you go, Gives you a sense of the many things you can do. So not only can you move anchor points and add anchor points and delete anchor points, and move control handles and all that jazz, you can also convert existing points in a path to different kinds of points in myriad different ways.
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