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This course is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
- Hey gang, this is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. Now this week I'm gonna show you how to convert a whole bunch of corner points to smooth points in Adobe Illustrator because here's the thing, corner points are easy to create. All you have to do is click around with the pen tool, but all you get is free-form polygons like these right here. Whereas you can convert all the corner points to smooth points in order to achieve these more organic results. And this is not just a matter of rounding off all the corners. Every single smooth point is unique, with perfectly placed control handles, in order to achieve the smoothest results possible.
I can't believe I haven't shown you this before. Here, let me show you, now, exactly how it works. All right so let's just say for a moment that you don't know the difference between a corner point and a smooth point. Now I'm sure you do, but I just want everybody to be on the same page here. I'm gonna switch to the pen tool here inside Illustrator. And the difference is this. You can click with the pen tool in order to create a corner point, whereas you have to drag with the pen tool in order to create a smooth point.
And notice that the smooth points are a little more organic because they allow you to create curving lines, whereas the very simple to create corner points are more geometric because they result in straight segments. But by golly those corner points are so darn easy to create. I'm just gonna go ahead and hit the backspace key, or the delete key on a Mac, a couple of times in order to get rid of that path outline. And I'm gonna wake this guy up just by clicking on one of it's end points. And I'm gonna complete this zigzag line that I'm in the middle of creating.
But now let's say that I really want these points to be smooth points so I have some nice organic curves. Well, I can press the A key to switch to the white arrow tool, and then if I click on any old anchor point right there, in order to select it. I'll see up here in the Control panel two icons. The first converts the selected point to a corner point. We don't wanna do that because it's already a corner point. And the second allows you to convert the point to a smooth point like so. So you just click and then you have a smooth point with two symmetrical control handles, so you get this nice organic curve going right through that anchor point.
But what if you wanna convert all of the points inside of this line to smooth points? Well then you'd go ahead and press ctrl+Z, or cmd+Z on the Mac, to undo that change. And then you'd select the entire path outline, of course. And you do that when you have the white arrow tool active by pressing the alt key, or the option key on a Mac. You get that little plus sign next to the cursor, and then you click anywhere in the path outline to select the entire thing. Problem is, our icon then goes away up here in the Control panel because after all, the Control panel is context sensitive and this is a context that that one particular icon does not like.
But fortunately all we have to do to bring it back is deselect an anchor point by pressing the shift key, and then clicking on any anchor point. And then notice as long as one anchor point is deselected, then you can see that icon up here on the Control panel, and then you can click on it in order to convert all of those corner points to smooth points. With the exception of the one that was not selected. I'll go ahead and click on it now to select it, and then convert it to a smooth point as well. But things go wrong. You can run into this problem right here where everybody's bending, all these segments are bending in a consistent direction, with the exception of that very last corner point.
If you run into this problem, here's what you do. Go ahead and press ctrl+Z, or cmd+Z on a Mac, a couple of times. Alt click on the path outline, that's an option click on a Mac, to select the entire thing. And that, of course, gets rid of that icon up here in the Control panel. To bring it back you need to deselect one point once again. Deselect an end point instead by shift clicking on that end point like so. And an end point, by the way, appears at either end of an open path outline. And then go up here to this icon. Click on it and everything works out beautifully.
But of course we need to convert that very last end point, so click on it to select it, then return to this icon. Click on it and we get a smooth point at this location as well. Looks to me like the control handle's going the wrong direction so I'll just go ahead and drag it out over here, and the deed is done. And as you can see, I mean this is the kind of path outline that even though it's relatively simple, would take a fair amount of time and effort to create. Whereas if you just draw a zigzag and convert everything to a smooth point, the deed is done. Now that's pretty cool, but things get even more interesting if you're working in a real piece of artwork.
So I'll go ahead and switch over to this guy. And notice that every single one of these anchor points is a corner point, as exhibited by the straight segments in between. And so what that meant was I was able to roughen this artwork relatively quickly in about 10 to 15 minutes. Now let's say I wanna convert everything to a smooth point. Why then I just press ctrl+A, or cmd+A on a Mac, to select everything like so. And notice that both of my layers are unlocked so I've selected everything across the entire artwork. I cannot see that icon up here on the Control panel, but I will see it if I go ahead and shift click on any anchor point.
So I'm gonna go and shift click on this guy. Once again, I stress, I am working with the white arrow tool, this guy right there. Illustrator calls it the Direct Selection tool. I call it the white arrow for pretty obvious reasons I think. Notice now that we have one deselected anchor point across the entire artwork. Not across a single path outline, but across everything. We can now see this smooth point icon. And if I go ahead and click on it like so, then I've converted everything in the illustration to smooth points. And I want you to see something. I'll go ahead and zoom out here by pressing ctrl+-, or cmd+- on a Mac.
And you can see that I've even converted the entire world to a kind of rounded rectangle. So this is what things looked like before. We had a very rectangular structure going on. And this is the way things look now. Of course I am missing that one anchor point right there, so I'll just go ahead and click on it to select it independently with the rest of the points. And then I'll click on this icon again in order to convert it to a smooth point as well. Now I did notice something just now. When I pressed ctrl+A, or cmd+A on a Mac, do you see it? It's right there.
We've got this anchor point that's just sitting there by itself and I can tell it's really an anchor point, not a center point or something like that, because it has these control handles extending from it, but it doesn't go anywhere. And to confirm that that is indeed a stray anchor point, you first wanna deselect your artwork by pressing ctrl+shift+A here in Illustrator. That's cmd+shift+A on the Mac. Then go up to the Select menu, choose Object, and choose this little known command right there, Stray Points. And that will select all of the stray points inside the artwork.
In my case, this is the only one. And now I'll press the backspace key, or the delete key on a Mac, to get rid of it. And now I'll just go ahead and press ctrl+0, or cmd+0, to center my zoom. And that friends is how you convert a whole mess of easy to create corner points into a whole mess of much more organic smooth points here inside Illustrator. I know, right? Wasn't that amazing? Next week I'm gonna take that very illustration that we ended with and I'm gonna add a bunch of field blurs to it inside Photoshop.
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