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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
All right gang, we are now going to take our first look at that tool that originally launched Illustrator on its way, the Pen tool right here. It really is the tool that made Illustrator a program of merit, when it first came out. This is a fantastic tool. It's really a great tool. We can draw anything with it, as you will see over the course of this chapter. Right now, we are going to start things off by tracing this canoe right there, and we are going to draw a free from polygon. So a straight-sided shape that has as many straight sides as we want it to have. I'm working inside of this document called Base template.ai found inside of the 09_pen_tool folder.
Let's go ahead and just grab the Pen tool. You can get the Pen tool by either clicking on its icon here in the toolbox or pressing the P key. Notice though, as soon as I bring my cursor out at least this is a way it is for me, I get this little pencil with a strike-through it, saying you cannot do anything to this illustration. What it's really saying is you can't do anything to the layer you have selected because it's locked. So you need to switch to an unlocked layer like Drawing, then you can do anything you want. Now, I'm going to go ahead and zoom-in on this canoe over here on the left side of the document. I'm also going to make the palettes a little narrower here, so that we have a little more room on screen to work.
Now, notice the appearance of the Pen tool for a second. You have got a pen nib that just shows you that you have the Pen tool active, and you have got a little X next to the cursor meaning that there isn't any path that's currently active. THAT'S what that X means, and the upshot is that if you begin clicking or dragging with the tool, you are going to begin a new path, which is perfect. That's what we want. So I'm going to click right about there, in order to set the first anchor point. Notice that. And this happens to be a corner point, which is indicating that it will have a corner inside of our path at this location. It might be a very spiky corner, a very cute corner, or it might be an oblique corner. It is just a little bit of a corner inside of the path. It doesn't matter.
It's still a corner. Now, notice my cursor first. Notice that I have got a pen nib now, great, without anything else next to it. That means we have got an active path in progress, and if I were to click again like so, I'll draw a straight line between these two points, these two anchor points. This straight line is called a segment. So we have a straight segment. Click again to make another straight segment, click again, and so on. I'm just going to keep clicking around this canoe. Don't worry about the fact that the canoe is much more rounded than this. We'll take care of this later.
Now, at a certain point like now, you are going to encounter a scenario where you're covering up the canoe and you can't even see the canoe in order to trace it any longer. And you have one of two options at this point. You can get rid of your Fill if you want to, and set it to Transparent. Or a better solution really is to just go up to the View menu and switch to the Outline Mode, and that's what I'm going to do. Ctrl+Y of course, Command+Y on the Mac, also makes that happen because we are working with the Tracing Template. We can see the image in the background, but we can see through the path as well. All right, so I still have an active path going, I'll click, I'll click.
Now, it is possible to deactivate the path accidentally. Let me show you what that looks like. If I grab a different tool, switch to it, and then switch back to the Pen tool for example, you will notice that the Pen Nib has an X next to it saying that nothing is active inside of the illustration. Now, that could even be the case. I'll go ahead and get my White Arrow tool for a moment, and I'll click on this last point right there, that final end point. So the path is selected, just as it needs to be. I go back to the Pen tool now, and it's still showing an X, showing me that no path is active. So the path is selected, but it's not active for modification at the moment.
Now, notice what happens. What this means is if I start clicking like here, then I'm going to begin a new path outline. These two points are not connected to each other. All right. So let's go ahead and undo those last few points. They are Ctrl+Z several times, Command+Z a few times on the Mac. How do we make this path outline active where the Pen tool is concerned? You move the cursor over one of these end points, and by end points I mean the points at the ends of this open path. This is an open path that can accept more points added to it of course. So I'll hover over this point.
Notice now, if you can see it. If you can make it out, you can on your screen if you are working along with me. You have got a pen nib with a little Slash next to it. That Slash is a line segment, and what it's saying is if you click here, then I'll begin to add line segments once again and that's what you want. So you click, and now you have got an active Pen Nib, right? You don't have any X next to it, nothing in fact. It's a free and unrestricted tool now. Now, I'll click on word and you can see that we are now adding line segments to this path. I'll keep working until I get things where I want them to be. Now, what happens if you click in a wrong location? I'll click in a totally wrong location like so.
Now, I still have my mouse button down. I'm not dragging. I'm just holding at this location. Right as you are clicking, if you think better of the position of your point, then you can press and hold the Spacebar. Very important that you have Spacebar down. And then, drag the point to a different location and then when you are done, release the Spacebar and release your mouse button. Now, you don't want to drag with the tool without that Spacebar down because you'll add a control handle. We'll talk about control handles later, but that would add curvature to your path at this point in the game. We don't want that.
All right. So I'll just click, click, click, and so on throughout this path. Finally, we'll end up getting done here. Let me just go ahead and fill out these areas right there, and then I'll come back around to this point or so in the canoe and notice, if I come back to the first end point in the path, I get a little O next to my cursor, and that's telling me that I'm going to close the path. So I'm going to come full circle and sure enough as soon as I click there, I have closed the path, and look at my Pen tool Nib. It is now saying there is no path active. If you start clicking again, you are going to create a new path like so.
All right. So that's a basic, very basics of the Pen tool. That's how you create a free form polygon, a straight- sided path. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to Move, Add, and Delete points.
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