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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
Illustration by John Hersey

Drawing with the Pen tool


From:

Animated Character Design with Illustrator

with Angie Taylor

Video: Drawing with the Pen tool

There are few occasions when working in Illustrator that using the pencil tool or the paint brush tool, which refer to as the sketching tools isn't practical, because drawing freehand isn't easy for one reason or another. For example, if you don't have access to a Wacom tablet and a pen, or other graphics tablet, it can be quite difficult and cumbersome to draw shapes using a mouse. Or, if you want to do highly technical drawings, where the curves and lines need to be really precise. Then the Pencil tool and the Paintbrush tool, with their kind of freehand type of sketching, isn't really appropriate. Now, in these situations the tool of choice is always the Pen tool. Pen tool is fantastic, it can be a little bit tricky to use if you have never used it before.

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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
2h 33m Intermediate Jan 14, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This workshop from author and animator Angie Taylor teaches how to use Illustrator's tools and features to prepare 2D files for animation in Adobe After Effects. Discover how to make the most of Illustrator's drawing tools and Autotrace feature, and to how use Live Paint and Kuler to recolor artwork. Plus, get a ton of tips and tricks for giving artwork a hand-drawn look and find out how to set up layers, aspect ratios, and transparency options for importing into After Effects. The lessons are focused and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the work area
  • Bringing artwork into Illustrator
  • Tracing artwork manually
  • Creating complex shapes
  • Working with paths
  • Using Live Trace
  • Coloring artwork
  • Applying 3D effects
  • Exporting artboards
  • Options for saving files
Subjects:
3D + Animation Design Illustration Character Animation video2brain
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Angie Taylor

Drawing with the Pen tool

There are few occasions when working in Illustrator that using the pencil tool or the paint brush tool, which refer to as the sketching tools isn't practical, because drawing freehand isn't easy for one reason or another. For example, if you don't have access to a Wacom tablet and a pen, or other graphics tablet, it can be quite difficult and cumbersome to draw shapes using a mouse. Or, if you want to do highly technical drawings, where the curves and lines need to be really precise. Then the Pencil tool and the Paintbrush tool, with their kind of freehand type of sketching, isn't really appropriate. Now, in these situations the tool of choice is always the Pen tool. Pen tool is fantastic, it can be a little bit tricky to use if you have never used it before.

But believe me it's worth learning, and it's worth getting over the awkwardness of using BĂ©zier curves initially to be able to get a precise level of control, further down the line. Now, when you click and hold on the pen tool you'll see that you get access to four other tools, or three other tools rather. You have the pen tool, the add anchor point tool, the delete anchor point tool, and the convert anchor point tool. If you want to you can hover over the tear off strip and have these tools float above your work space, as you're working.

Now, we're going to use these to draw the legs of our character. And I'm just going to run through how to use the pen tool for anyone who hasn't used it before. Now, the pen tool can be used to draw both straight lines and curves. Drawing straight lines is easy, you just click to create your first point, and then click again to make your second. Illustrator will draw a straight line between those two points, and I can continue clicking to create a series of straight lines. Now, I'm going to undo that, and what I'm going to do, is get you now to follow along.

So I want you to open Pentel.AI, and you can find that in the Tracing Paths Manually folder. And what I want you to do is make sure you have the pencil selected and this time, instead of just clicking, I want you to click and drag, and as you drag, you'll see these handles coming out from the point. Now, what these handles do, these are called Bezier handles and what they do is they allow you to determine the angle and the amount of curve that you're about to draw. Now, dragging handles around determines the angle of curve.

For example, if I want to create a curve going around his belly here, then I would pull the handles out in this direction, and then when I draw my next point, you'll see it creates a curve in that direction. Now, pulling the handle out farther determines the amount of curves. So let's just undo that last step and let's draw this again. Now this time, we want to go in this direction, so I want you to click and drag towards that direction. Now, pulling the point out from the center point determines the amount of curve.

Let me just show you this, so without you following, if I drag a small amount in that direction. And then click down here, it creates a very shallow curve. If I undo that, back to the start and click and drag quite far, then it creates a much steeper curve. And you'll see that that's practically perfect. Okay, so if you've drawn and practiced a couple of times what I want you to do is undo till there are no points. And what we're going to do is start to draw this path together. Now, one more thing to show you. If I click and drag the first point and then click on the second point that's now going to create a straight edged point. So if I click here, I get a straight line.

I don't want us to do that, so what I do is on the second point I click and drag again. What that does is that helps me refine the curve before this point and also determine the angle? After the point, so what I want you to do is just drag, concerning on the line between the points, making sure that matches that leg. So I'm going to undo a couple steps again and run through that process with you. So let's undo, so we click and drag on this point out to about there. And then we click and drag down on this point until the line between the points matches the line of his trousers as much as we can. Now, in order to do that, we've had to drag this quite a lot, which means that if I was then to draw the next point, it would create too big a curve. So I'm going to undo that to here, and I'm going to show you how you can adjust the curve before you continue drawing.

Now, you don't want to select this tool here, the convert anchor point tool, because as soon as you select another tool, this path is going to become broken, and you'll start drawing a new path. Instead, what I want you to do is, move over the handle and hold down the Alt key to convert to the convert anchor point tool temporarily. Above that's will do, allow you to adjust the handle without breaking the puff. So, what one needs to do is just change the direction so it's coming out about that angle and then release. And if you let go of Alt key, you go back to the pen to and you can continue drawing.

So, again on this one I am going to click and drag, and then release. If I want to adjust the angle, which I do here, hold down the Alt key, click and drag in the direction I want to go, and then release. Click up here, choose the direction, get the curve matching, hold down the Alt key, change the direction, click and drag here to get the curve following the path. And then finally, I'm going to click once here, and I'm going to leave this as an open path.

Now, if I now select the selection tool I can also change the fill so that we can see the drawing behind, so I'm going to choose the fill swatch and then I'm going to hit on none, and that's going to remove the fill from my new path. Now, you may have noticed that we've just drawn this on an existing layer. Now, if I open up my layers, you'll see I've actually drawn it on the head layer, which was a bit of a deliberate mistake. Now, if I want to add this to a new layer, all I need to is hold down the Alt key and click on the New Layer button and we'll call this left leg. Click on Okay, and instead of having to copy and paste it to that layer all I need to do with the layer selected or the object selected is click on this little red square here and drag it up to the new layer, and now that exists on a new layer.

Now, we'll very quickly alt click on the new layer button again. Create a right leg, and what I want to you to do is use the pen tool to draw on that again. Now, what I recommend doing is just locking down the other layers so you don't accidentally draw on those. Select the pen tool again and this time we'll start drawing from here. Click and drag down to start the curve, click and drag across to adjust the curve to fit the shape here. Hold down the Alt key to break the handles and change the direction of the curve, click and drag here to make the curve match the join behind. Hold down the Alt key to determine the new angle, and then draw down here. Now, at the bottom you'll see he's obscured by this dog, so we have to kind of somewhat make this up here.

Some going to alt click and drag and then we'll click and drag here to create the bottom of his leg, again alt click and drag. And I'm going to create a little knee here, so let's just create a small bump for his knee. We'll change the direction again holding down the Alt key and then click at the top. So again, we've created another open path. Now, if you want to close the path, which I'm not going to do, but I'll show you how to do it is you just hold the cursor over the first point until you see a little o beside it. I don't know if you can see that, but as I move the cursor it changes and it has a little o beside it so I click on that and that will close the path for me. So that was how to use the pen tool to create shapes, though it may be difficult to draw with the mouse if you haven't got access to a Wacom tablet, I'm just going to undo that last point, so you have an open path.

And I'm going to suggest that you practice using the pen tool to really perfect the techniques of drawing using Bezier curves.

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