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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to move, add, and delete individual anchor points here inside of Illustrator. Now, I'm still working inside the Base template.ai file. I have drawn a very rough canoe shape here, assembled as a free-form polygon, a straight-sided shape. Then I have also got this other weird shape up above. All right. So let's say I want to edit one or more of these paths. I have two Arrow tools available to me of course. I have got the Selection tool, the Black Arrow tool, and I have got the White Arrow tool. The White Arrow tool is the one you want if you are going to edit anchor points independently of each other, because a Black Arrow tool is always going to be working on a path as a whole.
Notice this for example. If I grab the Black Arrow tool, and I try to drag, notice I only have one anchor point that's active inside this path, and the active anchor point always appear as filled. There is a little Fill Square. The inactive anchor points appear as hollow ones. By the way, for those of you who are having problem seeing this on screen, if that's an issue for you at all, what you can do is you can make those anchor points bigger by pressing Ctrl+K, Command+K on the Mac to bring up the Preferences dialog box, and I'll switch over to Selection & Anchor Display right there. You can go with bigger anchor points if you want to. Notice these are the tiny little anchor points. You could switch to bigger one. So this next option right there will make the selected anchor point bigger and leave the deselected one small, or you could choose to have them all be bigger.
I am going to make them all bigger, because we end up down-sampling these videos a little bit, and I want this to be obvious for you. So I'm going to go ahead and click OK, and that does make those anchor points bigger, notice that. All right. But let's say I want to take this active anchor point and I want to drag it to a new location independently of the other guys. If I do that with the Black Arrow tool, notice I get the entire path. The Black Arrow tool is always going to select that entire path. In our case, that's great because I don't want it. So I just selected the entire path. Now, I can press the Backspace key or the Delete key to get rid of it. But if we want to edit the points inside of the canoe, then we need to switch over to the Direct Selection tool. Now, with the Direct Selection tool, I can click on a point to make it active like so, and you also saw that when I hover over an anchor point, it shows me that I have an anchor point under my cursor.
So I can locate anchor points very easily this way. Now, it's pretty easy to locate corner points, because they're at the corners in the path outline. However, smooth points as we'll see, are more difficult to locate. All right, so let's say I want to grab this point right there. I'll click on it to select it and then I want to drag it to a new location, and I can drag it wherever I want it to be. If you get too close to its former location there, it's going to snap back into alignment with that location, or it might snap into alignment with another point for example, like that. So when you get two or three pixels within a point, you are going to snap into alignment with it, and you can always turn off snapping if that starts bugging you under the View menu. You go all the way down to this command, right there Snap to Point, or you can press this keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Alt+Quote or Command+ Option+Quote on the Mac if you can remember that one. I must admit that's not one that I find very memorable.
You can just turn off the command if you want to, but we need it. I would leave it on. So you can drag these points around wherever you want them to be. What if you want to add a point to the path outline, what do you do in that case? Well, turns out that Illustrator actually offers you dedicated Add and Delete Anchor Point tools. I'll go ahead and show those to you after I get done messing around with that path a little more. Actually, there are all kinds of guys in here that need to be moved, like this needs to be adjusted down, this needs to go over a little bit, this guy probably wants to go over here, and by the way, you can nudge points too.
So you can click on a point in order to select it, and then you can use the Arrow Keys to nudge that point around to a different location if you like. So you have that precision control if you want to move it farther, remember 10X. You can press 10X, 10 times the usual increment, you would press Shift along with an Arrow key like so. All right. So anyway, back to adding and deleting points. You go over here to the Pen tool. So if you click and hold, you'll notice this flyout menu offers you an Add Anchor Point tool and a Delete Anchor Point tool, and they even have keyboard shortcuts, and I'm here to tell you, you don't need them. All you need is the standard Pen tool. Let me show you why? Armed with the standard Pen tool, if you hover over an existing point, it will change to a Minus sign. If you hover over a segment, it will change to a Plus sign. It's little hard to see at that location. Let's try right there.
So I'm going to click in order to add a point at this location because I feel like we don't have quite enough points around here. Then I want to move these points a little bit, don't have to switch back to the White Arrow tool now. I can press and hold the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac, and as long as the Ctrl or Command key is down, you will select the Last Active Arrow tool. In our case, that's a Direct Selection tool. All right. So with that Command or Ctrl key down, Ctrl on the PC, Command on the Mac, I'm going to move these points to new locations until I feel like I have got everything where I wanted to be. That looks really good.
Now, what if you decide you want to delete a point, I already told you, but here it is. Let's actually do it. You just hover your cursor over an existing anchor point in the shape, and you click, and it goes away. Now, the interesting thing about that is that Illustrator goes ahead and gets rid of that anchor point, but it connects the neighbors with a new segment. So it doesn't allow a hole to exist inside the path What if you do want a hole? So I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification, and then I'll press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and Marquee around this point. So just that one point is selected.
What if you want to delete and create a hole, then you press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to get rid of it. And what that does is it allows you to draw some new points if you want to. So for example, I can click there, click here, click here, and click here just to add completely new points to this path outline. Then I Ctrl+Drag or Command+Drag that guy up just a little bit. Have a blast, do whatever you want to this canoe outline, get it exactly right. By the way, the whole time I'm dragging these points around, I have the Ctrl key down here on the PC. That would be the Command key down on the Mac. One other thing I want to show you is another way to delete an entire path. If I have got this guy selected right there. Notice that I have got one anchor point active. If I press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac, that one anchor point goes away, and then all the other anchor points become selected as well. And then I press Backspace or Delete a second time.
So if you're ever in a scenario-- let's go ahead and undo that, Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Z, Command+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. If you're ever in a situation where a path is partially selected like this and you want to just get the heck rid of it, just get it off the screen, you just press Backspace twice in a row, Delete twice in a row on the Mac. So Backspace, Backspace, there it goes, Delete, Delete on the Mac, and it goes away. All right. So it's looking pretty good. I don't know about this guy actually. Let's try him. I'm Ctrl-clicking or Command-clicking once again in order to make this path active, and move the points around. This looks pretty good I think.
In the next exercise, I'll show you how to round off the contours in this path outline, and create what's known as a Spline Curve, stay tuned.
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