Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials
Illustration by John Hersey

Adjusting handles and converting points


Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Adjusting handles and converting points

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 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.
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  1. 59m 51s
    1. Welcome to Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials
      2m 0s
    2. The unwelcome Welcome screen
      6m 34s
    3. Browsing Illustrator artwork
      4m 53s
    4. Bridge workspaces and favorites
      6m 8s
    5. The anatomy of an illustration
      7m 2s
    6. Examining a layered illustration
      5m 38s
    7. Customizing an illustration
      5m 21s
    8. Creating a new document
      6m 12s
    9. Changing the document setup
      6m 50s
    10. Saving a document
      6m 14s
    11. Closing multiple files
      2m 59s
  2. 1h 3m
    1. Preferences, color settings, and workspaces
    2. Keyboard Increment and Object Selection
      5m 52s
    3. Scratch Disks and Appearance of Black
      6m 43s
    4. Establishing the best color settings
      5m 35s
    5. Synchronizing color settings in Bridge
      4m 3s
    6. The new CS3 interface
      3m 55s
    7. Organizing the palettes
      9m 4s
    8. Saving your workspace
      2m 33s
    9. Zooming and scrolling
      3m 39s
    10. Using the Zoom tool
      5m 27s
    11. The Navigator palette
      3m 37s
    12. Nudging the screen image
      2m 50s
    13. Scroll wheel tricks
      3m 11s
    14. Cycling between screen modes
      5m 55s
  3. 1h 4m
    1. Why learn Illustrator from a Photoshop guy?
      1m 32s
    2. Introducing layers
      4m 37s
    3. Creating ruler guides
      6m 34s
    4. Creating a custom guide
      3m 28s
    5. Organizing your guides
      5m 50s
    6. Making a tracing template
      3m 34s
    7. Drawing a line segment
      4m 9s
    8. Drawing a continuous arc
      4m 17s
    9. Drawing a looping spiral
      5m 16s
    10. Cutting lines with the Scissors tool
      6m 44s
    11. Aligning and joining points
      7m 57s
    12. Drawing concentric circles
      3m 45s
    13. Cleaning up overlapping segments
      6m 21s
  4. 1h 9m
    1. The anatomy of a shape
      1m 0s
    2. Meet the Tonalpohualli
      4m 8s
    3. Meet the geometric shape tools
      3m 47s
    4. Drawing circles
      6m 36s
    5. Snapping and aligning shapes
      6m 59s
    6. Polygons and stars
      7m 0s
    7. Rectangles and rounded rectangles
      6m 15s
    8. The amazing constraint axes
      6m 30s
    9. Grouping a flipping
      7m 37s
    10. Combining simple shapes into complex ones
      6m 35s
    11. Drawing with Scissors and Join
      6m 3s
    12. Cutting and connecting in Illustrator CS3
      3m 49s
    13. Tilde key goofiness
      2m 55s
  5. 1h 22m
    1. Three simple ingredients, one complex result
    2. Introducing Fill and Stroke
      3m 42s
    3. Accessing color libraries and sliders
      7m 8s
    4. Using the CMYK sliders for print output
      5m 5s
    5. Using the RGB sliders for screen output
      4m 38s
    6. Color palette tips and tricks
      4m 46s
    7. Creating and saving color swatches
      4m 13s
    8. Trapping gaps with rich blacks
      7m 57s
    9. Filling and stacking shapes
      5m 17s
    10. Dragging and dropping swatches
      6m 16s
    11. Paste in Back, Paste in Front
      5m 43s
    12. Filling shapes inside groups
      5m 15s
    13. Pasting between layers
      3m 34s
    14. Joins, caps, and dashes
      5m 50s
    15. Fixing strokes and isolating your edits
      7m 34s
    16. Creating a pattern fill
      4m 38s
  6. 1h 22m
    1. The power of transformations
      1m 25s
    2. From primitives to polished art
      4m 4s
    3. Clone and Duplicate
      6m 14s
    4. Moving by the numbers
      4m 15s
    5. Using the Reshape tool
      6m 29s
    6. Modifying, aligning, and uniting paths
      7m 0s
    7. Using the Offset Path command
      4m 24s
    8. Styling and eyedropping
      4m 11s
    9. The wonders of the translucent group
      5m 37s
    10. Making a black-and-white template
      3m 48s
    11. Scaling and cloning shapes
      4m 26s
    12. Enlarging and stacking shapes
      5m 6s
    13. Positioning the origin point
      6m 49s
    14. Using the Rotate and Reflect tools
      5m 16s
    15. Series rotation (aka power duplication)
      4m 3s
    16. Rotating by the numbers
      5m 15s
    17. Rotating repeating pattern fills
      4m 32s
  7. 1h 4m
    1. Points are boys, control handles are girls
      2m 16s
    2. Tracing a scanned image or photograph
      4m 34s
    3. Placing an image as a template
      5m 31s
    4. Drawing a straight-sided path
      5m 36s
    5. Moving, adding, and deleting points
      5m 51s
    6. Drawing spline curves with Round Corners
      7m 55s
    7. Smooth points and Bézier curves
      8m 12s
    8. Defining a cusp between two curves
      4m 37s
    9. Adjusting handles and converting points
      7m 3s
    10. Cutting, separating, and closing paths
      7m 30s
    11. Eyedropping template colors
      5m 11s
  8. 1h 28m
    1. Paths never rest
      1m 41s
    2. Meet Uzz, Cloying Corporate Mascot
      2m 22s
    3. Exploring the Appearance palette
      5m 37s
    4. Snip and Spin
      7m 27s
    5. Adding a center point
      3m 57s
    6. Keeping shape intersections
      3m 7s
    7. Lifting fills and selecting through shapes
      4m 14s
    8. Saving and recalling selections
      5m 18s
    9. Rotating is a circular operation
      7m 35s
    10. Lassoing and scaling points
      6m 7s
    11. Using the Transform Each command
      5m 9s
    12. Using the Magic Wand tool
      6m 46s
    13. Converting paths and text to rich black
      2m 27s
    14. The overwrought lace pattern
      3m 20s
    15. Eyedropping Live Effects
      5m 38s
    16. Merging strokes with a compound path
      6m 32s
    17. Selecting and scaling independent segments
      6m 30s
    18. Pucker & Bloat
      4m 49s
  9. 1m 59s
    1. See ya for now
      1m 59s

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials
9h 36m Beginner May 18, 2007

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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.

Deke McClelland

Adjusting handles and converting points

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 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.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials .

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Q: When trying to synchronize color settings between all Creative Suite programs in Bridge, the Creative Suite Color Settings command either does not appear in the Edit menu or does not work. What is causing this?
A: If the Color Setting command is not available or does not function, it's because Bridge thinks that a single application (such as Photoshop or Illustrator), is installed and not one of the many versions of the Creative Suite.
If only Photoshop or Illustrator is installed, skip the exercise and move on.
If the entire Creative Suite is installed, then, unfortunately, there is no easy fix. Either contact Adobe or completely reinstall the Creative Suite.
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