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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.
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 spikes.ai 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?
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