Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
If you're going to be doing a lot of freehand drawing inside of Illustrator, you've got to familiarize yourself with two tools: one is the smoothing tool, and the other is the Path Eraser tool. Both of these are going to be your best friend. The Eraser tool, because it allows you to undo that which you didn't intend to do, and the smoothing tool, because it's going to clean up those jagged paths that you've created while you're drawing with your mouse. Let's take a look at exactly what I mean. I am going to be using my Pencil tool here, and I am just going to draw out some freeform shapes. So I am going to draw out something like a flower, and I am going to hold down my Option or Alt key to indicate that I am going to close this path, then I will release my mouse, and I will release my Option or Alt key.
That's going to close that path for me. But you can tell by looking at this that it's pretty nasty. It's jagged, it doesn't have a lot of smooth corners, I don't like it, but I can come over here, and I can grab the Smooth tool, and I can actually smooth out some of these areas. So if I come across here, you can see that it kind of simplifies the areas that I'm working on; rounds them out a little bit more. You just draw along the path, and Illustrator takes care of the heavy lifting for you.
Hopefully, it's eliminating some of those big corners that I created. I might even zoom in to this little area here, grab my Smooth tool, and draw around, just to kind of smooth it out. It's going to take some doing, but eventually it will smooth out exactly like I need it to. Let me zoom back out. I can also do that to the circle in the middle.
I'll select it, and then grab my Smooth tool, and I'll just drag around it. It makes it a little bit more smooth. So now I come back and grab my Pencil tool, and I will draw a stem, and I will also draw some leaves. I will grab my smoothing tool, and I will kind of smooth these out. This one first. See, it kind of simplifies the path a little bit, and I'll take this, and I'll move it over; something kind of like that.
This one, I'll select it, use the Smooth tool again, simplify that side, and simplify that side. Then I will take that, and move it down. It's not my best work, but it's certainly a lot better than it was when I first started drawing it. Now I am going to go in, and I am going to grab the Path Eraser tool, and the Path Eraser tool actually allows me to erase paths, just like it says.
If I come in here with the eraser tool, I can actually start to remove certain paths, based on what I draw across. First of all I need to have it selected, though. So let's say that I wanted to redraw the stem; I am not really happy with it. I'll switch temporarily to the Selection tool by holding down the Command or Control, and click on it. Then I am simply going to drag across this, and it's going to erase what I had. And go all the way down and remove it entirely, if I want to. The same holds true for the leaves. I will switch to the Selection tool by holding down command or Control, click, and then I will just go all the way around.
Now I'll switch to my Selection tool, select this last leaf, and I'll just press the Backspace key. You can utilize the Path Eraser tool, or the regular Eraser tool as well. If I grab the regular Eraser tool, and then zoom in on this artwork, I can actually remove some of the pieces that I wasn't happy with before.
So like right here, where these overlap, I can just come in here with this Eraser tool, and temporarily hold down the Control key to select this object, and then simply brush away the parts that I don't need. So I will brush away that, and this little stem as well. If I make a gap, like I just did, that's okay, because I can then just use the Join or Average commands to rejoin that, or I can use the Pencil tool to join it as well. Once I am finished with that, I will click away. Then I will use Command+Zero or Control+Zero to zoom back out. So, as you can see, utilizing the smoothing tool, as well as the Path Eraser tool, is a great way to refine your hand-drawn artwork here inside of Illustrator.
If you're going to be doing a whole lot of hand-drawing inside of this program, I suggest getting to know these tools extensively. Take some time, and practice with them, and over time, you will develop skills that will help you do some amazing things.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
117 Video lessons · 45064 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 55932 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 15805 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 83480 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.