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In this installment of the Illustrator Insider Training series, Mordy Golding shows how to draw vector artwork quickly, precisely, and efficiently—without having to think about technical concepts like anchor points or control handles. The course highlights intuitive drawing techniques using the Pathfinder functions, Live Paint groups, Shape Builder tool, and variable-width strokes. It also describes the sketching workflow and features in Illustrator that use pressure-sensitive drawing tablets, allowing designers to focus more on their creativity.
In addition to becoming familiar with the modifier keys inside of Illustrator, you also have to really be efficient with using the Transformation tools that Illustrator has, namely the Scale tool, the Rotate tool and the Reflect tool, we'll start by using the Rotate tool. So I'm going to first start by drawing a shape. I am going to take a rectangle maybe click and drag and make a nice long rectangle over here and now maybe I want to rotate this. So if I now press R on my keyboard which will activate now the Rotate tool, you can see there right now in the center of my screen it's a little bit of a crosshair right on the center point of my object.
That crosshair is what would we refer to as the origin point that means that that is where the transformation is going to take place from. Imagine if right now I have this rectangle and I kind a nail it to a board right through the middle. Now if I try to rotate it I can rotate it around that nail, but that middle area can't move. So let's imagine for right now that the object is locked on this one point. What I want to do when I want to actually rotate this. I want to move my cursor as far away from that point as I can, which will give me more leverage on how I can actually adjust that shape.
So for example I don't need to actually grab any of the other parts of the object here. I am going to move my cursor out to let's say right about this part and if I click now and drag in one motion, you can see that my rectangle is rotating around that origin point. But I have a lot of control as I'm rotating this because my cursor is far away from that origin point. Let me actually press Undo for a second. We can always move or adjust the origin point and there are two ways to do that. I can take the actual point itself and click on it and drag it to reposition it elsewhere and by the way that point will snap to other anchor points here or paths inside of Illustrator and that's because my smart guide is turned on.
So if I go over here and I snap it to this corner, now when I move my cursor out of here and I click and drag it is rotating around that point. So again it's really important that I can get completely different results by simply repositioning my origin point. Now another way for me to redefine the origin point to just simply click once with the mouse. So if I go over here and I click and release, you can see that now the origin point is over here. Realize right now that the origin point is not even touching the object at all. However, if I come let's say right about over here and I start to click and drag, I'm rotating the object around that origin point.
Let me delete this shape. Let me create some other shape. For example let's do a star and I am going to drag a star right about over here, maybe decrease the radius over here, so I have a nice little star and I want to make this larger now. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to press the S key to activate my Scale tool. Notice that right now the origin point in the center of that star, so if I move my cursor and I start to click and drag outwards, I'm scaling the start out from its center. Now if I want to reduce it in size, but I want to reducing in the size from a specific point, I can actually click once here to set my origin point for example at the top part of the star and now if I move my cursor down here and then Shift+Drag this way, I can now scale it to that point.
I've grabbed it basically right from the bottom here. I'm kind of distorting in this way, but if I press Undo and I grab it let's say the outer edge here and go downwards, now because I'm kind dragging diagonally I'm getting that proportional scale as I go towards that origin point. Remember the O key on your keyboard is a shortcut for the Reflect tool and if I set my origin point let's say right about over here-- So notice it's not touching the object, but now I click and drag I can reflect the tool exactly this way. The smart guide thumbnail right now is saying it's lined up this way, but I can also hold down the Shift key to do this as well.
But by the way whenever you reflecting something, nine times out of ten, you don't want to reflect the actual object; you want to reflect a copy of that object. So you'll not only need to hold down the Shift key to get a perfectly aligned, you'll also need to make sure that the Alt key or the Option key is also being pressed while you doing this function. Notice by the way that if I release that Option key right now, my cursor has just one arrow, but if I hold on the Option key I now see a double arrow as my cursor. That indicates to me that Illustrator is now making that copy of that. If I release the mouse and then release the keys on my keyboard I now see that I was able to reflect the star, but I reflected a copy of it not the original one.
So we'll see this more as we start to draw shapes inside of Illustrator, but we really need to pay attention to how that origin point works and also to make sure that we're clicking and dragging from a point that's far enough away from that origin point in order to give us enough leverage to move that piece of artwork. Let's see how we do that right now. I am going to take these two shapes and just delete them. And let's say we want to create the stripes over here and I want to use maybe an oval or an ellipse to actually create that shape. So I'm going to start over here by taking my Ellipse tool. Again I can use the L key which is the keyboard shortcut for that. If I draw let's say an ellipse right over here and you can't see this lower portion of it kind of matches what I trying to get over here.
So what I'd like to do is somehow match a circle or an oval to kind of come to this part over here. You know, kind of imagine where that oval will be and anticipate where the center that oval might be. So maybe it's like somewhere over and if I'm wrong, again we can always adjust things as we're drawing, so don't worry about it. I am going to click and hold down the Option key, so I'm drawing out from the center. And now as you see I kind of move it here, look at that. I get a shape that kind of matches exactly what I'm trying to do, which is this curve right over here. Let's zoom in a little bit closer here on this area and I can see that I now have a shape that kind of matches this part right here and the instead of me drawing now the second circle, what I can do is I can hit the R key for my Rotate tool, click over here because I want the origin of my rotation to happen at this point right here, and now what I'll do is I'll move my cursor away from that origin point then I'll click and drag and you see now how I'm rotating the circle? But I also want to hold down the Option key, because I want to rotate a copy of my circle and now what I've done is I've created this part of the curve that I'll need and also this part of the curve that I'll need.
Later when we start learning how to use Pathfinder or even the Shape Builder tool inside of Illustrator, I'm going to now take these paths that I've created and combine them or subtract them to get at the final stripe, but for now instead of me struggling with trying to draw that kind of a curve I've used the simple oval shape and I've made a copy of it to create the paths just the way that I need them. This is the experience that we're looking for inside of Illustrator when we talk about drawing without the Pen tool. I get very clean precise paths and I draw them much more quickly than I would if I had to use the Pen tool.
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