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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
Practice makes perfect when using the Pen tool but don't forget there are plenty of other tools inside of Illustrator as well. Let's focus on the Pencil tool. Once again we'll start with just a blank document here. I'm going to go to just the welcome screen here and choose to create a brand-new print document, one artboard. A nice clean canvas to use right here. And I'll move over to my my Tools panel here and choose the Pencil tool. Now the reason why I like to talk about the Pen tool and the Pencil tool in context is because they're actually exact polar opposites of each other. Remember, what was the key take away that we spoke about when we were using the Pen tool? The Pen tool plots anchor points and the paths are drawn automatically in between them based on where you position those anchor points and based on the types of anchor points you create, be they corner anchor points or smooth or combination points. However, with the Pencil tool you do the exact opposite. The Pencil tool allows you to draw more along the same lines as you would use a regular pen or pencil on a piece of paper. You basically click and drag and create the path that you want to create. When you release the mouse Illustrator goes ahead and figures out where to plot the anchor points. So you don't have to make the anchor points; you just draw the path the way that you want it to be. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? I mean why go through the whole kind of backwards thinking process of plotting where the anchor points go and then worrying about what types of anchor points to create, when hey, Illustrator is a computer. Let it figure all that out. Let me just drawn the path that I want. Well the difference is that really while that is true, you don't have the same level of control with the Pencil tool that you might have with the Pen tool. And that's simply because there's a disconnect between what you're drawing on a computer screen and the mouse in your hands and now it happens to be that I'm also using a Wacom tablet at the moment, which allows me to have more of a fluid kind of drawing where I wanted to actually draw things in this particular way if I wanted to. I can, let's say, draw a tic- tac-toe board, so on and so forth. I'll actually go ahead and just hit Command+ A or Ctrl+A and just delete everything for now just so I can clear the board. And I can draw shapes like this, whatever it is that I'm working on. So no reason why I couldn't go ahead and create any kind of wonderful things. The problem though is that when I'm working with the Pencil tool, notice I have that little X again? The same for the Pen tool. That means I'm ready to start drawing a new path. But remember, how how that little O identified me drawing a close path? Well, it's very hard to draw closed paths with Pencil tools , because it's hard to get back to that exact same spot and if you do so, you lose a little of that fluid motion that you would normally want have in an illustration. So for example, if I wanted to draw some kind of closed shape, I would start by kind of drawing a shape like this and coming back here and having to really get close and then see where that particular circle was and it would be hard for me to find that. So it would also be hard to draw maybe perfect triangles or rectangles or other kind of shapes, because I'm just going by however my hand is. If you're not using a straight edge and you just have a regular pencil on a piece of paper I mean, how straight of a line are you going to draw? So there is a difference or I would say there are benefits and pros and cons to using the Pen tool versus the Pencil tool. The Pencil tool does has some really nice things inside of it. Let me show you what I mean. So I'm just going to select all this and delete this.
I'm going to go over to the Pencil tool right here for a second, select it. I'm going to draw a shape like this. Well, watch this. I'm going to simply start drawing on top of it and go this way and you see how it modified that path? I'm using a Wacom tablet right now, but I'm basically moving my pencil basically over the shape. See how the X disappears when I get close? And now when I click and I say drag this way, see how it curves and modifies that path? Well, think about how real artists used pencils on paper. They start sketching very lightly because they want to get just a basic idea of a shape. Then they start darkening the lines when they get the shape that they like. well, in a digital way this is kind of somewhat close where I draw a shape, maybe I'm not that happy with it. I want to modify it somewhat. So I could just simply draw again over here and basically kind of make sure that I'm either smoothing it out or that I'm drawing the shape that I really wanted that particular shape to be.
This is really a nice feature that exists with the Pencil tool. So you can start drawing a shape and then continue to draw it until you're happy with what you get. I will say though there's certain times, let's say I want to create a new path, kind of like a branch of a tree that branches out this way. Well when I click and I drag, it modifies that path. I didn't want to do that. So what I would need to do is hold on the Command key, deselect the path, then click to drag a new past because that feature only works when you're working with a path that's already selected. Well, if you double-click on the Pencil tool itself, you'll see that there's some Pencil Tool Options. Fidelity basically allows you to control how smooth or how well the anchor points are defined when you're drawing that path. The Smoothness also allows you to-- let's say you have a a very jittery kind of hand or you're using a mouse, then as you you draw the path, Illustrator has like this stabilization kind of feature where it smoothes out the path so it doesn't look as jittery. But I also have an option here called Keep Selected and Edit Selected Paths. Now I'll tell you that I liked that feature called Edit Selected Paths because it allows me to simply redraw or modify a path as I'm drawing it, but like I said before it does get in the way at times. So what I do is I uncheck the Keep Selected feature. That way when I draw a new path it's no longer selected so I can go ahead and draw new shapes out that way. If I decide, you know, I don't like the way that one looks, I'll hold down the Command key. Remember the Command key is the keyboard shortcut that temporarily returns me to the last Selection tool that I was using. I'll now click on that and now that I've selected it, now I can draw over it and I can modify it. Now I will just Command-click off of it to continue drawing more again. So how I'll use the Pen tools. The Pencil tool's great. It's a wonderful feature, but I wouldn't rely on it as being the tool to use. The Pen tool is still going to be far more important especially when we talk about editing existing files. So if you can, if you do have a Wacom pen though, by the way, some kind of pressure-sensitice tablet, then the Pencil tool does take on a new meaning. It does become more readily available as a tool for sketching and drawing. But at the same time, remember if you have a mouse, it could be little bit difficult to get that translation or that feel of actually drawing on a computer screen. We will explore later on in our title a feature inside Illustrator called brushes or the Paintbrush tool, which can allow us to extend this way of drawing to a whole new level. But for now you have a basic understanding of what the Pen tool does inside of Illustrator and what the Pencil tool does inside of Illustrator and again, the main differences between them here is that the Pen tool allows you to plot anchor points and the Illustrator figures out where the paths go; the Pencil tool allows you to draw paths and then Illustrator figures out where the anchor point out. So it's an either/or kind of thing. You give up some level of power, but you get some level of fluid motion with the Pencil tool that you don't get with the Pen tool. The beautiful thing is that both tools are available to you. You don't have to only use one or the other but choose what times it's best to use the both of them together.
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