Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals
Illustration by Don Barnett

Converting anchor points


Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Converting anchor points

All right, we are going to be drawing some more spikes. Believe that or don't, because this animal, it's got a lot of protective gear on its back and we need to fill it in. We don't need to draw every single one of its spikes, but we do want to draw a few more in the interest of learning the following. How to convert points? Convert smooth points to cusp points, cusp to smooth, all three of them back and forth between each other. And we are going do that in a couple of different ways I'll show you here. So why don't we start drawing some more spikes first. The name of this document by the way, I have gone ahead and saved my progress as a document called Still more found inside the 09_pen_ tool folder and you are always welcome to open my documents or stick with your own. It's completely up to you.
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  1. 42m 8s
    1. Welcome to One-on-One
      1m 58s
    2. The Welcome screen
      3m 3s
    3. Creating a new document
      5m 6s
    4. Advanced document controls
      4m 43s
    5. Saving a custom New Document Profile
      8m 46s
    6. Changing the document setup
      4m 21s
    7. Special artboard controls
      4m 58s
    8. Accepting artboard changes
      2m 19s
    9. Saving a document
      4m 33s
    10. Closing a document
      2m 21s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. Adobe Bridge
    2. Opening an illustration
      4m 45s
    3. Modifying an illustration
      6m 27s
    4. Saving changes
      4m 58s
    5. Introducing Adobe Bridge
      8m 41s
    6. The all-important file type associations
      3m 20s
    7. Navigating inside Bridge
      4m 23s
    8. Previewing and collecting
      5m 55s
    9. Using workspaces
      6m 41s
    10. Customizing a workspace
      6m 14s
    11. Cool Bridge tricks
      8m 17s
  3. 1h 4m
    1. Preferences, color settings, and workspaces
    2. Keyboard increments
      5m 12s
    3. Scratch disks
      3m 48s
    4. Changing the user interface and setting Appearance of Black
      4m 14s
    5. Best workflow color settings
      9m 17s
    6. Synchronizing settings across CS4
      3m 2s
    7. Working inside tabbed windows
      7m 6s
    8. Organizing palettes
      5m 4s
    9. Saving a custom workspace
      4m 12s
    10. Zooming and panning
      4m 19s
    11. Using the Zoom tool
      3m 3s
    12. Navigating the artboards
      5m 5s
    13. Nudging the screen image
      3m 3s
    14. Scroll-wheel tricks
      2m 8s
    15. Cycling between screen modes
      4m 35s
  4. 1h 22m
    1. The Wedjat (or Eye of Horus)
    2. The line tools
      2m 57s
    3. Introducing layers
      5m 10s
    4. Creating ruler guides
      6m 18s
    5. Creating custom guides
      5m 16s
    6. Snap-to points
      5m 25s
    7. Organizing guides
      5m 44s
    8. Making a tracing template
      3m 42s
    9. Drawing a line segment
      4m 29s
    10. Drawing a continuous arc
      5m 28s
    11. Drawing a looping spiral
      6m 5s
    12. Cutting lines with the Scissors tool
      6m 20s
    13. Joining open paths
      7m 31s
    14. Aligning and joining points
      6m 34s
    15. Drawing concentric circles
      4m 41s
    16. Cleaning up overlapping segments
      5m 34s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. The anatomy of a shape
      1m 1s
    2. Meet the shape tools
      3m 5s
    3. The traceable Tonalpohualli
      2m 52s
    4. Drawing circles
      4m 38s
    5. Enhanced Smart Guides
      4m 1s
    6. Aligning to a key object
      4m 29s
    7. Creating polygons and stars
      5m 4s
    8. Using the Measure tool
      3m 47s
    9. The Select Similar and Arrange commands
      3m 56s
    10. Rectangles and rounded rectangles
      6m 8s
    11. The amazing constraint axes
      5m 26s
    12. Grouping and ungrouping
      3m 35s
    13. Flipping and duplicating
      4m 12s
    14. Combining simple shapes into complex ones
      5m 24s
    15. Cutting and connecting with Scissors and Join
      3m 31s
    16. Tilde-key goofiness
      2m 53s
  6. 1h 41m
    1. The ingredients of life
    2. Fill and Stroke settings
      4m 22s
    3. Transparency grid and paper color
      5m 47s
    4. The None attribute
      5m 4s
    5. Color libraries and sliders
      3m 39s
    6. Industry-standard colors
      4m 38s
    7. Using CMYK for commercial output
      6m 39s
    8. Using RGB for the web
      7m 23s
    9. Color palette tips and tricks
      7m 18s
    10. Creating and saving color swatches
      4m 35s
    11. Trapping gaps with rich blacks
      6m 46s
    12. Filling and stacking shapes
      5m 39s
    13. Dragging and dropping swatches
      5m 0s
    14. Paste in Front, Paste in Back
      4m 54s
    15. Filling shapes inside groups
      5m 28s
    16. Pasting between layers
      4m 41s
    17. Joins, caps, and dashes
      6m 50s
    18. Fixing strokes and isolating edits
      7m 12s
    19. Creating a pattern fill
      4m 57s
  7. 1h 50m
    1. The power of transformations
      1m 20s
    2. From primitive to polished art
      2m 42s
    3. Using the Blob brush
      5m 46s
    4. Resizing the brush and erasing
      4m 15s
    5. Selection limits and methods of merging
      6m 39s
    6. Cloning and auto-duplicating
      6m 45s
    7. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      3m 7s
    8. Moving by the numbers
      5m 15s
    9. Using the Reshape tool
      7m 47s
    10. Modifying, aligning, and uniting paths
      7m 14s
    11. Using the Offset Path command
      4m 43s
    12. Styling and eyedropping
      5m 29s
    13. Making a black-and-white template
      2m 27s
    14. Scale and clone
      4m 57s
    15. Enlarge and stack
      5m 46s
    16. Positioning the origin point
      6m 59s
    17. Using the Rotate tool
      3m 55s
    18. Using the Reflect tool
      4m 15s
    19. Series rotation (aka power duplication)
      6m 48s
    20. Rotating by the numbers
      6m 12s
    21. Transforming the tile patterns
      7m 52s
  8. 2h 4m
    1. Next-generation text wrangling
    2. Placing a text document
      5m 38s
    3. Creating a new text block
      6m 1s
    4. Working with point text
      3m 57s
    5. Selecting the perfect typeface
      5m 44s
    6. Scaling and positioning type
      8m 57s
    7. Leading, tracking, and lots of shortcuts
      5m 54s
    8. Adjusting pair kerning
      6m 55s
    9. Eyedropping formatting attributes
      3m 54s
    10. Flowing text from one block to another
      8m 28s
    11. Creating and applying a paragraph style
      7m 39s
    12. Rendering the text in graphite
      5m 55s
    13. Creating a scribbly drop shadow
      5m 17s
    14. Advanced formatting and bullets
      7m 43s
    15. Setting Area Type options
      4m 57s
    16. Justification and the Every-line Composer
      5m 52s
    17. OpenType and ligatures
      7m 19s
    18. Fractions, numerals, and ordinals
      9m 7s
    19. Swashes and small caps
      5m 40s
    20. The amazing Glyphs palette
      8m 12s
  9. 1h 18m
    1. Points are boys, handles are girls
      1m 20s
    2. Placing an image as a tracing template
      6m 56s
    3. Drawing a straight-sided path
      6m 8s
    4. Moving, adding, and deleting points
      6m 50s
    5. Drawing spline curves with Round Corners
      9m 7s
    6. Smooth points and Bézier curves
      8m 29s
    7. Defining a cusp between two curves
      6m 59s
    8. Replicating and reshaping segments
      8m 31s
    9. Converting anchor points
      7m 55s
    10. Deleting stray anchor points
      5m 1s
    11. Separating and closing paths
      5m 43s
    12. Eyedropping template colors
      5m 55s
  10. 1h 40m
    1. Paths never rest
      1m 34s
    2. Exploring the Appearance palette
      9m 54s
    3. Snip and Spin
      8m 3s
    4. Adding a center point
      4m 12s
    5. Keeping shape intersections
      3m 42s
    6. Lifting fills and selecting through shapes
      5m 54s
    7. Saving and recalling selections
      6m 20s
    8. Rotating is a circular operation
      8m 32s
    9. Lassoing and scaling points
      5m 28s
    10. Using the Transform Each command
      4m 11s
    11. Using the Magic Wand tool
      8m 1s
    12. Eyedropping live effects
      9m 58s
    13. Merging strokes with a compound path
      6m 50s
    14. Selecting and scaling independent segments
      7m 59s
    15. Scalloped edges with Pucker & Bloat
      5m 16s
    16. Expand before you merge
      4m 17s
  11. 1h 26m
    1. The new pleasures of printing
    2. Outlines and artboards in CS4
      7m 35s
    3. Setting trim size and bleed
      7m 17s
    4. Creating custom dynamic crop marks
      3m 41s
    5. Working with the Separations Preview palette
      7m 42s
    6. Trapping an object with an overprint stroke
      8m 20s
    7. Placing multiple artboards into InDesign
      5m 17s
    8. Working with the Print Tiling tool
      4m 56s
    9. Setting the General Print options
      6m 9s
    10. Setting printer marks
      5m 16s
    11. PostScript-only output and graphics
      9m 10s
    12. The Color Management options
      6m 56s
    13. Adjusting the Flattener settings
      7m 32s
    14. Setting the Raster Effects resolution
      5m 33s
  12. 1h 32m
    1. Illustrator does pixels
    2. Illustrator, PDF, and Save As formats
      8m 15s
    3. Saving an illustration for the web
      6m 13s
    4. Saving a continuous-tone JPEG image
      10m 2s
    5. Saving a high-contrast GIF graphic
      6m 27s
    6. The versatile PNG format
      4m 45s
    7. Saving a scaleable Flash (SWF) graphic
      11m 0s
    8. Opening and placing an Illustrator file in Photoshop
      12m 44s
    9. Exporting a layered PSD from Illustrator
      12m 57s
    10. Exporting to Microsoft Office and PowerPoint
      7m 24s
    11. Sharing with InDesign, Flash, and Photoshop
      12m 12s
  13. 1m 4s
    1. Until next time
      1m 4s

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals
16h 48m Beginner Feb 06, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Creating continuous arcs and looping spirals
  • Building with geometric shapes
  • Selecting, placing, and scaling type
  • Creating spine curves with round corners
  • Using the new Blob brush to quickly draw and merge paths
  • Working with flattener and raster effects
  • Saving illustrations for the web
Deke McClelland

Converting anchor points

All right, we are going to be drawing some more spikes. Believe that or don't, because this animal, it's got a lot of protective gear on its back and we need to fill it in. We don't need to draw every single one of its spikes, but we do want to draw a few more in the interest of learning the following. How to convert points? Convert smooth points to cusp points, cusp to smooth, all three of them back and forth between each other. And we are going do that in a couple of different ways I'll show you here. So why don't we start drawing some more spikes first. The name of this document by the way, I have gone ahead and saved my progress as a document called Still more found inside the 09_pen_ tool folder and you are always welcome to open my documents or stick with your own. It's completely up to you.

I am going to grab the Pen tool and I'm going to zoom in on the end of this guy. And notice not every single one of my spikes is exactly aligned to my underpainting here. That's fine. And you can make similar decisions. You don't have to slavishly trace your Tracing Template. So I'm going to drag from this location right there, in order to continue my path, because it was inactive there. I will drag from here as well and I'll drag up there and I'll here, like so and drag down and all around and so on and so on. And imagine at this point, notice I'm doing something different than I was doing. I'm creating rounded spikes, which better match my underpainting. But they don't match the style of spikes that I have set up in the first place, that I have established at the beginning where we had a cusp point at the top for a nice sharp spike and we also had a nice cusp point down here for whatever reason, just because that's the point in the middle of the sharp eviscerating blades.

These guys shouldn't be all rounded off like that. They should be the same. So how do we go about converting them to nice sharp cusp points? Well, I'll go grab my White Arrow tool just so that we can focus on the editing for a moment here. Let's say this is the point that I want to convert to a cusp. So I'll move this guy back a little bit like so and then we will make this guy a cusp. How do we do it? Well, you might think you go over to this Convert icon right there, because you can convert a corner point to a smooth point by clicking here, if you want to. For example, I could grab this point, if I wanted to.

This cusp point right here that has independent control handles and I could bring them into alignment with each other by clicking on the smooth point button. And that certainly works beautifully. I will go ahead and undo that modification, however because I don't want that. All right, I'll go ahead and select this point once again and you might figure, okay, there is convert the anchor point to a corner and we saw when we looked at the Join dialog box in the previous exercise that corner is inclusive of cusp, right? Well, not in this case, it's not. If I click here, we get rid of the control handles. So we end up not with a cusp point, but with a standard corner point that has no control handles whatsoever. That's really designed to accommodate straight segments not curving ones. So it ends up making a mess of what we were formerly nicely curving segments. So let's undo that.

What you want instead is this tool right here. Click and hold on the Pen tool and go down to this guy, Convert Anchor Point tool. Remember its keyboard shortcut. That's helpful. I'll also show you another way to get to it very easily. I will go ahead and select Convert Anchor Point tool, it's kind of a weird tool and by the way, if you find it useful to have these tools up on screen, don't forget you got a tear off right there that you can take advantage of and you can just keep these guys up there, right raring to go. So you can switch between your Pen tool and your Convert Anchor Point tool whenever you need them. You don't really need these two tools in between.

So anyway, I have got my Convert tool selected here, my Convert Point tool, and notice what you can do now. If you drag one of the control handles, it moves out of alignment like so and you can continue to drag that point if you want to, even though you are armed with a tool that's really designed to change the behavior of points. At this point since you have already made this point, a cusp point, you are in good shape you can just sit there and modify it. If you want to drag a point around it, however, if you want to change the position of this point, for example, you would need to press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac to get that Arrow tool once again, so you don't hurt that point.

So that's how you go about -- I have still got the Ctrl key down or the Command key on the Mac and I still do here too is I'm dragging these points around on these control handles. So if I want to get this guy and convert it to a cusp point as well, then I would just go ahead and drag its control handle like so. What if you want to take a cusp point or a corner point for that matter and you want to convert it into a smooth point? Then you would drag from the point like this in order to make it a smooth point. Then you are of course dragging out your symmetrical control handles. I don't really want to do that. So I'll go ahead and undo that modification by pressing Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac.

Another thing you could do, if you really want to convert the point to a corner point without any control handles, you can just click on that point and that will change it to a corner point. Then if you want to change that corner point to a cusp point, you can drag out from it like so. This would of course initially make this a smooth point as we are seeing here and then once you get that one control handle into alignment, and I'm talking about the opposite one, the one that's opposite to my cursor, the one over on the right side of the illustration, then you go ahead and release the mouse button and drag this control handle like so, in order to move it independently of the other one.

So it's a little bit of a matter of experimenting with this tool. Ops! I just went and accidentally dragged from that point. I didn't think that's what I had done. I thought I pressed the Ctrl key. That's what I meant to do, to drag this point around a little bit and move it to a different location. It is a tricky tool to use, but it's very useful in my hand below. All right. Let's go ahead and get this guy down to this position right here. I have the Ctrl key down, in case I'm confusing you. I have the Ctrl key or the Command key down on the Mac, in order to access my White Arrow tool and move things into different positions and then finally I want this guy to be a nice spike.

So I'm going to release my Ctrl key or my Command key on the Mac and I'm going to show you something else. I want to show you how you can get to this tool when the Pen tool is active. Let's go ahead and switch to the Pen tool, which I can do by pressing the P key, if I wanted to. And you can of course sit there and drag. I will go ahead and Alt+Drag from this location or Option+Drag from that location in order to continue drawing my spikes like so and then at this location I would press the Alt key or the Option key to move backward like so and then come down here and press the Alt or Option key to move upward and so on and so forth.

Then it occurs to me, wait a sec, I forgot about this guy. I forgot to make him a nice sharp cusp point. What in the world do I do? I have to go back to that strange tool there. That little Triangle, the tool or I can access it on the fly by pressing and holding the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac. So notice, as long as I have Alt or Option down, I can go ahead and I don't want to click on that anchor point. I need to select it first. So I'll release the Alt or Option key and I'll press the Ctrl key or the Command key on a Mac and click on the anchor point to make it selected. Now it's ready to be converted. Then I'll press the Alt or the Option key to get that Convert Point tool and now I'll drag that control handle independently of the other one and as soon as I release the Alt or Option key, I'm back to the Pen tool.

Now the only exception to that rule, where pressing the Alt or Option key gets you the Convert Point tool is when you are working on an endpoint. In that case, pressing the Alt or Option key and moving over the endpoint, notice that, gives you that cursor that allows you to draw a cusp point at this location. So the behavior of the Alt or Option key is different depending on whether you are working on an interior point or an endpoint. All right, from this point on, you can do whatever you want. I release these to trace some more spikes or not trace some more spikes. It's totally up to you.

In the next exercise, I'll show you how to cut, separate and close paths that are in progress here inside of Illustrator and in case you are wondering what in the world I'm talking about, join me, won't you?

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals .

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Q: Adobe Bridge CS4 is not previewing files in the same way for me as it is in the tutorial. All I am seeing is a low-quality thumbnail of the image, not previews of each artboard.  Why is there a difference between the tutorial and what I am seeing?
A: There is a different view in the tutorial because the author used a beta version of Bridge during the recording. The final release of Bridge CS4 displays thumbnails as you describe.
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