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Illustrator CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Drawing simple curves


From:

Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

with Justin Seeley

Video: Drawing simple curves

I think one of the most feared things about the Pen tool is drawing curves, but it's not exactly as hard as people make it out to be. In this movie, I'll explore drawing some simple curves inside of Illustrator, and hopefully it'll help ease your mind on using this tool. I'm going to go into the File menu and choose New to create a new blank document, and I'll just commit to the defaults. Once I do that, I'll switch to the Pen tool by pressing the letter P on my keyboard. We've already seen how to draw straight lines. You just click, and click to draw a point. But what if I wanted to make that line a curve? Well let's undo that with Command+Z or Control +Z, and let's see how we can draw a curve.
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  1. 1m 15s
    1. What is Illustrator?
      1m 15s
  2. 2m 17s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
  3. 41m 25s
    1. Understanding vector graphics
      5m 0s
    2. Setting preferences
      9m 24s
    3. Touring the interface
      9m 41s
    4. Exploring the panels
      6m 54s
    5. Working with the Control panel
      4m 25s
    6. Creating and saving workspaces
      6m 1s
  4. 43m 42s
    1. Creating files for print
      4m 42s
    2. Creating files for the web
      3m 36s
    3. Managing multiple documents
      3m 25s
    4. Navigating within a document
      5m 21s
    5. Using rulers, guides, and grids
      6m 59s
    6. Changing units of measurement
      1m 50s
    7. Using preview modes
      3m 10s
    8. Creating and using custom views
      3m 12s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 43s
    10. Creating and using artboards
      7m 44s
  5. 1h 1m
    1. Setting your selection preferences
      5m 57s
    2. Using the Direct Selection and Group Selection tools
      4m 6s
    3. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 45s
    4. Using the Lasso tool
      4m 9s
    5. Selecting objects by attribute
      6m 48s
    6. Grouping objects
      3m 7s
    7. Using isolation mode
      4m 48s
    8. Resizing your artwork
      3m 55s
    9. Rotating objects
      2m 10s
    10. Distorting and transforming objects
      6m 26s
    11. Repeating transformations
      5m 6s
    12. Reflecting and skewing objects
      4m 54s
    13. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 38s
  6. 29m 27s
    1. RGB vs. CMYK
      1m 46s
    2. Adjusting Illustrator color settings
      5m 10s
    3. Process vs. global swatches
      5m 6s
    4. Creating spot colors
      3m 40s
    5. Using the swatch groups
      2m 33s
    6. Working with color libraries
      3m 17s
    7. Importing swatches
      4m 4s
    8. Using the Color Guide panel
      3m 51s
  7. 57m 36s
    1. Understanding fills and strokes
      4m 18s
    2. Working with fills
      4m 58s
    3. Working with strokes
      8m 46s
    4. Creating dashes and arrows
      8m 1s
    5. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 3s
    6. Using width profiles
      3m 31s
    7. Outlining strokes
      3m 51s
    8. Creating and editing gradients
      5m 45s
    9. Applying gradients to strokes
      3m 8s
    10. Applying and editing pattern fills
      4m 52s
    11. Creating your own pattern fill
      6m 23s
  8. 20m 20s
    1. Understanding paths
      2m 41s
    2. Understanding anchor points
      4m 20s
    3. Working with open and closed paths
      5m 28s
    4. Joining and averaging paths
      4m 9s
    5. Using the Scissors tool and the Knife tool
      3m 42s
  9. 37m 56s
    1. Understanding drawing modes
      4m 23s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 15s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      4m 11s
    4. Working with the Shape Builder tool
      6m 32s
    5. Working with the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      5m 26s
    6. Working with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools
      7m 8s
    7. Smoothing and erasing paths
      5m 1s
  10. 35m 53s
    1. Exploring the Pen tool
      2m 39s
    2. Drawing straight lines
      5m 12s
    3. Drawing simple curves
      5m 23s
    4. Understanding the many faces of the Pen tool
      6m 10s
    5. Converting corners and curves
      1m 46s
    6. Your keyboard is your friend
      2m 14s
    7. Tracing artwork with the Pen tool
      12m 29s
  11. 35m 33s
    1. Adjusting your type settings
      4m 10s
    2. Creating point and area text
      3m 36s
    3. Basic text editing
      2m 14s
    4. Creating threaded text
      4m 59s
    5. Using the type panels
      9m 48s
    6. Creating text on a path
      5m 11s
    7. Converting text into paths
      1m 43s
    8. Saving time with keyboard shortcuts
      3m 52s
  12. 27m 25s
    1. Exploring the Appearance panel
      4m 44s
    2. Explaining attribute stacking order
      1m 40s
    3. Applying multiple fills
      3m 1s
    4. Applying multiple strokes
      4m 20s
    5. Adjusting appearance with live effects
      4m 46s
    6. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      8m 54s
  13. 20m 44s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      4m 18s
    2. Creating and editing layers
      3m 27s
    3. Targeting objects in the Layers panel
      3m 3s
    4. Working with sublayers
      3m 0s
    5. Hiding, locking, and deleting layers
      4m 14s
    6. Using the Layers panel menu
      2m 42s
  14. 46m 0s
    1. Placing images into Illustrator
      2m 53s
    2. Working with the Links panel
      6m 5s
    3. Embedding images into Illustrator
      3m 12s
    4. Cropping images with a mask
      5m 8s
    5. Exploring the Image Trace panel
      12m 14s
    6. Tracing photographs
      8m 6s
    7. Tracing line art
      4m 33s
    8. Converting pixels to paths
      3m 49s
  15. 19m 21s
    1. What are symbols?
      2m 45s
    2. Using prebuilt symbols
      3m 3s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      4m 19s
    4. Creating new symbols
      3m 50s
    5. Breaking the symbol link
      3m 19s
    6. Redefining symbols
      2m 5s
  16. 12m 9s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      4m 29s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      3m 49s
    3. Applying artwork to the grid
      3m 51s
  17. 35m 7s
    1. Printing your artwork
      6m 16s
    2. Saving your artwork
      2m 2s
    3. Saving in legacy formats
      3m 0s
    4. Saving templates
      4m 18s
    5. Creating PDF files
      5m 23s
    6. Saving for the web
      4m 46s
    7. Creating high-res bitmap images
      3m 58s
    8. Using Illustrator files in Photoshop and InDesign
      5m 24s
  18. 56s
    1. Next steps
      56s

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Illustrator CS6 Essential Training
8h 48m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Adobe Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks, from illustration to app development. This course demonstrates core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow—for print, the web, or building assets that will find their way into other applications. Author Justin Seeley explains the elements that make up vector graphics (paths, strokes, and fills) while showing how to use each of the drawing tools, and demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths and organize them into groups and layers. The course also covers text editing, working with color, effects, and much more.

Topics include:
  • Understanding vector graphics
  • Creating and setting up files for print or web destinations
  • Selecting and transforming objects on the page
  • Creating spot colors
  • Applying fills, strokes, and gradients to artwork
  • Adjusting appearances and effects
  • Working with anchor points and paths
  • Drawing with the Pen tool
  • Creating text
  • Managing layers
  • Creating and using symbols
  • Printing, saving, and exporting artwork
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Justin Seeley

Drawing simple curves

I think one of the most feared things about the Pen tool is drawing curves, but it's not exactly as hard as people make it out to be. In this movie, I'll explore drawing some simple curves inside of Illustrator, and hopefully it'll help ease your mind on using this tool. I'm going to go into the File menu and choose New to create a new blank document, and I'll just commit to the defaults. Once I do that, I'll switch to the Pen tool by pressing the letter P on my keyboard. We've already seen how to draw straight lines. You just click, and click to draw a point. But what if I wanted to make that line a curve? Well let's undo that with Command+Z or Control +Z, and let's see how we can draw a curve.

I'm going to click to set one point, and then I'll click to set a second point, but when I click to set that second point, I'm going to keep my mouse held down, and I'm going to start dragging it one direction or another; either up, down, or sideways. Once I do that, you'll start to see the line curve. So I'll click, and I'll start to drag down, and the line will curve up. If I were to drag upward, the line would curve down. And any degree in between, you can see that it shifts the way the line curves.

It's this relationship of going up versus down that I think scares a lot of people off, because you have to think in terms of opposites. When you drag up, the curve goes down. When you drag down, the curve goes up, and so forth. It can be a little confusing. Let's undo that, and let's see how we can draw a simple S Curve. I'll click with my first point, and I'm not going to release my mouse. I'll simply drag downward, and then I'll release. Now I'll create a second point, and I'll make sure that it intersects at a 90 degree angle by using the smart guide, and this time, I'll click and hold.

You'll notice when I click, it automatically draws the curve down for me. That's because I set a curved point on the other anchor point. When I drag this, if I drag it up, it matches the curve. If I drag it down, I start to draw an S curve, like so. When I release, the S curve is complete. Now, here's the part of the Pen tool that seems to throw a lot of people off. If I wanted to put another point right here, you would think that the Pen tool would draw a straight line between these two points.

After all, when you click and set a point, and click to set another point, the Pen tool draws a straight line. Watch what happens when I click here. It draws a line, but it's still got a little bit of a curve to it. A lot of people, when they make that second point off of a curved line, it actually creates this almost weird whip looking effect on the curve. Let me show you a little trick when you're drawing curves. I'll undo this, and I'll come right back up here. We'll cover this extensively when I talk about using your keyboard a little bit later on, but for now just know that you can always reset the Pen tool to make it draw straight lines, by coming back to the original anchor point that you set, holding down the Option key on the Mac, the Alt key on the PC, and clicking the anchor point.

Notice how that one control handle went away. Now if I were to come straight down, and click, the Pen tool draws a completely straight line. I've essentially reset the Pen tool. I've made it ignore that previous point. Now I can continue to draw curves if I wanted to, by clicking, and dragging out, and they would just curve up away from that. Now let's draw out a little curve here, and I'll reset this point by Option+Clicking or Alt+Clicking, and I'll come back over here, draw another curve, come back in the middle, and once I've done that, you can see here, I've drawn a whale, and I did that simply by creating curved lines and straight lines together, utilizing the Pen tool.

So again, if you go to make curves inside of Illustrator with the Pen tool, remember to click and hold with your mouse, and then drag the handles until you get the curve like you like it. If the curve doesn't turn out perfect -- like for instance, I might go in here, and fix some of these little sharp edges in here, or I might even come back and try to make this a little bit more curved, instead of a straight corner point -- you can always get control of that by utilizing the control handles that surround a curve. Let's grab the Direct Selection tool, and I'll come in, and I'll find one of these anchor points.

When I click on the anchor point, I get the little control handles on each side. The control handles allow me to adjust the curve. I can make it bigger, or I can make it smaller, and the direction I drag it alters the way the curve works. Basically, you just have to slow down your mouse movements, and make small adjustments until it fits exactly like you like it. You may have to adjust multiple handles in order to get exactly what you're looking for, but eventually, you'll get there. Yes, it can be a little tedious, but this is a really precise way to create artwork, and I really like it.

Let's click right here in the middle, and you can see here, I can just keep adjusting all of these different spaces in between these pieces of artwork. This one here, I might move up a little bit, and then I may also adjust the curve; make it little bit more gradual. So as you can see, it's not perfect right off the bat, but these control handles give me a great amount of ability to manipulate this path in any way I see fit.

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