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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
While there are many tools inside of Illustrator that you can use to create artwork, I think you'll find that a majority of the time that you spend in Illustrator is editing artwork. We've learned how to use the Pen tool and the Pencil tool to create paths and anchor points. Now let's see how to modify those anchor points and paths by making edits to them. For this example, I have a file open. It's called watering_can. I'm going to zoom in just a bit so we could see a little more clearly and if I select the artwork with my Selection tool, you can see where the anchor points are on the path.
However we're going to want to deal with individual anchor points and when we're using the Selection tool, we can't do that. We need to use Direct Selection tool. So I'll switch to the Direct selection tool and now you'll see that I could actually select some of these anchor points and view the control handles for this part of the path. Just by quickly looking at this object, I can tell that, for example, this would be a corner anchor point, this would be a smooth anchor point and this one is one of the those combination points what we call a change direction point. Before we go any further, let's change some of the preferences in Illustrator to make it little bit easier to work with these anchor points.
If I click on a blank area to deselect everything, you'll see that I have quick access to the Preferences panel right here from the Control panel. So I'll open up Preferences and I'll switch over here to the Selection & Anchor Display. You can see that Illustrator offers different ways to display the anchor points and the handles for paths and for the Anchors setting I'll have Illustrator display the largest possible indicators. This doesn't change the functionality. It just makes the anchor points bigger so I could see them a little bit better. I'll do the same thing for the handles to make them more visible and I just want to make sure that Highlight anchors on mouse over is also turned on.
This way I'll easily be able to tell when I'm moving my mouse over an anchor point. Now that I've made these settings, I'm just going to click OK and you'll see now when I select this artwork the anchor point are just little bit more visible and hopefully it'll be easier for you to follow along. Using my Direct Selection tool, I'm able to click on any anchor point and adjust its position in the document. Obviously doing so also affects the paths that are connected to it. In addition, I can use that same Direct Selection tool to click on any of the handles and adjust the curve of those paths.
However grouped together with the Pen tool are a few additional tools to help you work with editing points. Just to make it easier to work with in this training video, I'm going to move my cursor over to the Pen tool. I'll click and hold my mouse on it so that you can see the different tools. But what I'm going to do is move my cursor all the way to the far right to this panel which is called Tearoff. If I release the mouse now, Illustrator creates a little miniature Tools panel that I could reposition anywhere on my screen. Here you can see I have four tools. The Pen tool you already know about. I also have two other tools here.
This one is called the Add Anchor Point tool and this one the Delete Anchor Point tool. Using these tools allows me to delete or add anchor points as necessary. We'll talk about that in just a moment but I want to focus on this last tool called a Convert Anchor Point tool. We already know that there are different types of anchor points inside of Illustrator: corner anchor points, smooth anchor points or change direction Points. At any time you can change a type of anchor point into a different type and anchor point. The way that you do that is using this tool right here. But before I apply it let's quickly review how we draw paths using the Pen tool.
I'll press the Command key and deselect my artwork and using my Pen tool, if I wanted to draw a straight line using corner anchor points, I know that I would click release the mouse, change the position of my cursor, and then click again to create a line. So to create a corner anchor point I click once and release the mouse. If I wanted to create a curve, I click and drag and I pull out control handles to create that curved path. This creates a smooth anchor point. Keeping that in mind, let's see how this new tool works inside of Illustrator, the Convert Anchor Point tool.
I'll select this artwork here, I'll now come over here and choose the Convert Anchor Point tool, and I'll move over to this anchor point right here. This is currently a smooth anchor point, but if I want to convert it to a corner anchor point I would take this Convert Anchor Point tool, position it right over the anchor point, and click and release the mouse. In doing so, I've taken a smooth anchor point and I've now converted it to a corner anchor point. Remember with the Pen tool I click and released to make a corner anchor point. With the Convert Anchor Point tool I also click and released to create a corner anchor point.
Now let's focus on this anchor point right here. This is currently a corner anchor point. If I wanted to turn this now into a smooth anchor point, I would position my cursor right over that anchor point, click, and then drag. Now we can that I'm pulling out handles from this path. This now converts that anchor point from a corner anchor point to a smooth anchor point. If you want to create a change direction point, take that same Convert Anchor Point tool, but instead of clicking on the actual anchor point itself. Click and drag on the control handle.
Now position my cursor right over the control handle and I'll click and drag to see that I can now adjust just one side of the path into that anchor point. Now there are some tools inside of the Control panel that will also help me get some of this done. For example, I'm going to switch back to use my Direct Selection tool. I'm going to click on this point right here which is now currently a corner anchor point and you can see in the top over here by the Control panel, I have an option where it says Convert to convert this to a corner or a smooth anchor point. Clicking once now converts that to a smooth anchor point with control handles.
Now it's important to realize that right now I have this anchor point selected. I've selected it with my Direct Selection tool. If I wanted to remove it, if I pressed the Delete key on my keyboard I wouldn't be removing just the point. I'd also be removing the paths that go through that point. In other words, I would actually be severing the path if I did that. Notice now that Illustrator removed all the paths that ran through that anchor point, which leaves me with an open gap. I'll press Command+Z to undo that and if I really want to just remove the anchor points but leave the path intact, I would use the Delete Anchor Point tool.
I can click on that, position my cursor right over the anchor point I want to delete, and click to do so. It happens to be that inside of Illustrator it's rare that I'd need to use these tools and in that I mean referring to the Add and Delete Anchor Point tool. Because Illustrator has some of this intelligence built in with a preference. To illustrate, watch what happens when I go back to my regular Pen tool and I move that Pen tool over an existing anchor point. Illustrator automatically switches to the Delete Anchor Point tool thinking that I might want to delete that anchor point.
Likewise, if I move my cursor over any part of an existing path, Illustrator automatically changes to the Add Anchor Point tool and if I click it adds an anchor point on to the existing path. If you ever want to change his behavior you can do so in Preferences. I'll deselect my path I'll open up my Preferences panel and in the General section, you could see there's a setting here called Disable Auto Add/Delete. If I turn this check box on, I will be required to use these tools specifically to add or remove anchor points. So let's just take a quick moment to review.
We know that in Illustrator I'll perform most of my edits with anchor points using my Direct Selection tool. If I want to change one type of anchor point to another, I would use the Convert Anchor Point tool. Finally I can add or remove anchor points by using the Add or Delete Anchor Point tool.
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