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Creating curves with the Reshape tool

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

Video: Creating curves with the Reshape tool

In the previous movie we saw how we can take some basic shapes like ellipses and by simply rotating them or resizing them in a certain way we can actually get the curves that we need to create some artwork. However, not every curve that I need for my artwork is going to be able to reproduced using some of these basic shapes. Sometimes I need to create more complex curves. Let's take a closer look at Mister Zee here in this file. It's called Sketch3. If I zoom in over here, you can see that I started to create ellipses, so I start creating some of the stripes in the bottom of his belly over here.

Creating curves with the Reshape tool

In the previous movie we saw how we can take some basic shapes like ellipses and by simply rotating them or resizing them in a certain way we can actually get the curves that we need to create some artwork. However, not every curve that I need for my artwork is going to be able to reproduced using some of these basic shapes. Sometimes I need to create more complex curves. Let's take a closer look at Mister Zee here in this file. It's called Sketch3. If I zoom in over here, you can see that I started to create ellipses, so I start creating some of the stripes in the bottom of his belly over here.

But I also have to create this line across the bottom here like this. Now it doesn't really match perfectly just because the nuance is the way that it is that I would be able to use maybe an oval shape to draw that. So I want to create a curve in another way and then if we take a look at some of the other curves here on the body, like for example, this part of the leg. This is a curve that starts in one direction and then comes back in another. So there is certainly no way that I can use any of the primitive shapes inside of Illustrator to make that happen. In fact, if I zoom out just a little bit, let's take a look at the entire back of the body here, from the neck all the way back here down to the tail.

That's also a shape that's a little bit more complex. So let's focus on ways so we can actually draw these kinds of shapes inside of Illustrator without using the Pen tool. What's really interesting about this technique I'm about to show you is that we're actually going to be drawing straight lines in the beginning to create these curves. So let's start with something basic which is this bottom part here at the belly right here. I am going to zoom just to this area right here. I am going to start by taking my regular Line tool here, my Line Segment tool, I am going to start clicking where I want the path to begin and I am going to click and drag and come to here where I want it to end and then release the mouse.

So I have now a straight line kind of connecting where the start and the end is going to be, and now I am going to use a tool inside of Illustrator called the Reshape tool. The Reshape tool actually has several different functions that it can do inside of Illustrator but perhaps one of the most powerful ones is that you can use the Reshape tool to convert a straight path into a curved one. Let's see how that works. I am going to go over here to the Scale tool. I am going to click and hold my mouse button down and I will see that the Reshape tool is down over here.

In fact, we are going to see that we are going to use the Reshape tool so often inside of Illustrator, we are actually going to assign a keyboard shortcut to it. We will do that towards the end of this movie. But for now, I am going to choose the Reshape tool. I am going to click on one part of the path, let's say right about over here. Click and that's going to add an anchor point here. Again, forget about the fact there is an anchor point there. Just note that it's kind of point that I can drag from, and if I click and drag downwards, I can kind of move and adjust where this is to match the curve I am trying to create. Now in this example here, the curve is just going in one direction, so it's pretty easy and straightforward to do it.

Let's focus on some other shapes that maybe a little bit more complex. Let's move over here to the hind leg. Let me zoom out just a drop here and focus on this area right here. Once again, I am going to take my regular Line tool, I am going to click over here at the top, and I am going to drag down here to the bottom. Now the feet over here is actually going to be a separate shape, so I want the curve to end right about over here. So I now need to create a bend over here in the path over here and then back again this way. So I am going to start off by going to the Reshape tool. I am going to click over here and then drag out this path to match this kind of curve right about over here.

The Reshape tool actually allows you to either move parts of the path if the anchor points are selected or if you have no anchor points selected, it only moves a part of the path. So if I were to switch now to my Direct Selection tool and then click off to that path, but just click on the path itself right here, so I don't have any anchor points selected. You see how they are all filled white. So right now if I take my Reshape tool and I click now on this center part and I drag it back, what I am doing now is I am leaving this anchor point stationary, this one is stationary and this one is stationary, but I am just moving the path back in over here.

My result now is a beautiful curve that goes out here and then comes back again this way. Let me zoom out just a bit here and we can focus on this path that goes across the top of the body. Once again, I will switch to my Line Segment tool and I will start right over here, just click, drag all the way across to here from where I want it to start and where I want it to end. Like I said, you want to be able to use the Reshape tool a lot inside of Illustrator but it doesn't have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it by default. So let's go ahead and do that now. Let's make our life a little bit easier for ourselves.

I am going to go to the Edit menu and towards the bottom I am going to choose keyboard Shortcuts. Now you can see a list here of all my tools. By the way the Illustrator also lets you apply keyboard shortcuts to menu commands, but we want to use the Reshape tool, so I have here Tools selected. So I am going to scroll down this list over here until I find the Reshape tool which is right here. Again, notice now it does not have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it, and I am going to click right in this blank area and I want to use the letter E because I could think of the word reshape, so I have that long E sound in there, so I am going to use the E key as the keyboard shortcut for the Reshape tool.

Now Illustrator already has the E key assigned to another key called the Free Transform tool. However, we have a tremendous amount of power, now that we know how to use the Scale, the Rotate and the Reflect tool by themselves, so we don't really need to ever use the Free Transform tool. I hardly ever use it at all inside of Illustrator. So now I am going to click OK and you see it asked me to save this set. I will give it a name. I will call this one Drawing because that's my drawing set of keyboard shortcuts. Right now, I just created a line and I now want to reshape that line, I am going to hit the E key on my keyboard and that brings me to the Reshape tool.

So now I can start by kind of clicking over here and dragging out a line right about over here. Then I can click over here. I just want to show you what happens if you don't select just the path itself. Notice now if I drag this and I move this, the other anchor point over here kind of moved down also. It's not end of the world because I can always just click on it and move it back again, but I'm kind of doing like this back-and-forth kind of motion which may not be the most intuitive to work with. So that's why many times what I'll do is I will use the Direct Selection tool or if that's the last tool that I have used, right now I am clicking on the Direct Selection tool, I can come back to the Reshape tool and then simply Command+Click off of the path, then only click on this part of the path, so now with the Reshape tool I am only moving that part of the path.

Notice over here it looks kind of wonky. I am not really perfect over here. I am going to purposely leave the path in this state over here because I'm going to show you in the next movie that there are other tools that we can use to help smooth out these paths. At this point you should now become familiar with using the Reshape tool inside of Illustrator. All you need to do is start with a straight line and then simply pull out the path to match the curve that you're trying to create.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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  1. 7m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 21s
    2. The evolution of vector drawing
      3m 46s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      27s
  2. 39m 2s
    1. Plotting points vs. drawing paths
      5m 36s
    2. Drawing artwork vs. building artwork
      7m 59s
    3. The keyboard shortcuts you HAVE to know
      8m 52s
    4. Groups and layers really do matter
      3m 11s
    5. Taming Smart Guides and the Bounding Box
      10m 53s
    6. Do you need a drawing tablet?
      2m 31s
  3. 47m 51s
    1. To sketch or not to sketch?
      2m 32s
    2. Setting up a template layer for your sketch
      3m 37s
    3. Optimizing default settings for drawing
      5m 27s
    4. Using the primitive shapes tools
      5m 7s
    5. Mastering the modifier keys
      2m 8s
    6. Mastering the transform tools
      6m 37s
    7. Creating curves with the Reshape tool
      6m 44s
    8. Using the Smooth tool
      3m 35s
    9. Using Simplify to create smooth paths
      3m 2s
    10. Recording an action for the Simplify command
      5m 2s
    11. Mirroring art for speed and accuracy
      4m 0s
  4. 50m 18s
    1. Deconstructing the Pathfinder panel
      1m 56s
    2. Using the Shape Modes functions
      12m 4s
    3. Using the Pathfinder functions
      13m 4s
    4. Understanding how compound shapes work
      11m 45s
    5. Understanding why compound shapes exist
      7m 32s
    6. Exploring additional Pathfinder options
      3m 57s
  5. 52m 51s
    1. Why Live Paint was created
      10m 45s
    2. Creating a Live Paint group
      4m 21s
    3. Using the Live Paint Bucket tool
      7m 8s
    4. Using Live Paint with open paths
      5m 6s
    5. Detecting gaps in Live Paint groups
      3m 42s
    6. Adding paths to a Live Paint group
      5m 34s
    7. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      6m 28s
    8. Releasing and expanding Live Paint groups
      2m 59s
    9. Understanding how Live Paint works
      6m 48s
  6. 27m 37s
    1. Why the Shape Builder tool was created
      4m 18s
    2. Focusing on the big three: Add, Subtract, and Divide
      2m 27s
    3. Using the Shape Builder tool to add and subtract artwork
      9m 50s
    4. Using the Shape Builder to divide artwork
      3m 48s
    5. Building and coloring artwork at the same time
      3m 50s
    6. Using Gap Detection with the Shape Builder tool
      3m 24s
  7. 23m 2s
    1. Understanding how variable widths work
      8m 25s
    2. Modifying width points along a path
      7m 9s
    3. Saving time with width profiles
      5m 14s
    4. Turning variable width strokes into filled paths
      2m 14s
  8. 28m 21s
    1. Understanding how the Pen and Pencil tools differ
      4m 41s
    2. Adjusting the behavior of the Pencil tool
      7m 5s
    3. Using the Path Eraser tool
      1m 17s
    4. Drawing with the Calligraphic Brush tool
      5m 43s
    5. Drawing with the Blob Brush tool
      5m 53s
    6. Using the Eraser tool
      3m 42s
  9. 3m 44s
    1. Looking at the VectorScribe plug-in
      2m 16s
    2. Next steps
      1m 28s

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