Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC
Illustration by John Hersey

Tweaking a design with the Pencil tool


From:

Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Tweaking a design with the Pencil tool

All right, at this point, I want to call your attention to a few design inconsistencies where our letter form is concerned. Notice these white edges on the right sides of the terminals of this character. The one down right is thick, as you can see labeled here; the one up right is thin, and then the one associated with the middle portion, the bar of the character, is downright skinny. Now, of course, we need to address these design inconsistencies, and we're going to do so using the Pencil tool.
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Watch the Online Video Course Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC
1h 52m Appropriate for all Apr 02, 2014

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Illustrator CC does something that few updates to the program have done: It promises to change the fundamental way that you draw. Yes, there was the Pen tool in Illustrator 1, Pathfinder operations in Illustrator 5, and dynamic effects in Illustrator 9. But Illustrator CC changes the entire nature of the game. Deke's not exaggerating; the things he's about to show you are that big. Learn about the "new" Pencil tool, on-the-fly corner rounding, and freeform curve bending. 3 features in 3 short chapters that will change the way you see Illustrator. Then Deke shows how to combine them all in a real-world Illustrator project that proves his thesis: drawing has never been faster, better, or easier than this.

Topics include:
  • Drawing effortless arcs, paths, and lines with the Pen tool
  • Selectively and dynamically rounding corners
  • Drawing complex shapes with round corners
  • Bending segments with the Pen tool
  • Beveling and enhancing artwork
  • Drawing multiple lines at the same time
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Deke McClelland

Tweaking a design with the Pencil tool

All right, at this point, I want to call your attention to a few design inconsistencies where our letter form is concerned. Notice these white edges on the right sides of the terminals of this character. The one down right is thick, as you can see labeled here; the one up right is thin, and then the one associated with the middle portion, the bar of the character, is downright skinny. Now, of course, we need to address these design inconsistencies, and we're going to do so using the Pencil tool.

So, I'll go ahead and turn off my highlights layer because I don't really need it anymore, and I'll go ahead and zoom in on the top right terminal. And then, I'll go ahead and grab my Pencil tool, which I can get by pressing the N key and when the pencil tool is selected, you can get to its dialogue box by pressing the enter key or the return key on the Mac. Now, last time we visited this tool, I had dragged the fidelity slider triangle all the way over to the right to smooth. But for this effect here, I'm going to drag it one notch to the left, which is generally the way I work, by the way.

I usually work one notch from the right. And then, I'll go ahead and click Okay. And that way, you get nice smooth path outlines, but you're assured corners as well. And just because I can, I'm going to go ahead and draw my path outline using my Wacom Cintiq, which is my drawing tablet, of course. And I'll just go ahead and draw it something like this or if you don't find that that works for you, to complete the shape as I've done, then just go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on a Mac in order to undo that modification and just draw a simple, waving line, like so.

And then what you want to do is press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool and go ahead and drag that path outline over to the right and press the alt key or the option key on a Mac to duplicate it. And you want to make sure that that duplicate path falls inside the white region. Now, in my case, I don't know about you, but for me, both the fill and the stroke are transparent. So I can't see what I'm doing. So I'll press Ctrl+Y, or Cmd+Y on a Mac, to switch to the outline mode, so I can see both of the path outlines. And I'll shift click on the one that's not selected. So, both open paths are now selected, as you can see here.

And I'll press CTRL+J, or CMD+J on a Mac to join, in my case, the top two end points. And then, I'll press CTRL+J again, or CMD+J on a Mac to join the remaining two end points. And now, I'll press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the Mac to switch back to the preview mode, and I'll go up to the very first swatch, in the control panel, click on it and change it to white, like so, and now we have a thicker edge in the upper right terminal. All right now, I'll scroll down to the bar, in the middle of the ampersand, and I'll press the N key, in order to switch to my Pencil tool, and I'll just go ahead and draw a waving path outline, like so.

And that one doesn't have a lot of wave to it, so I'll try again by pressing Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on a Mac, and I'll go ahead and give it a more obvious wave, like that. And I believe that looks pretty good. I might nudge it over to the left just a little bit, by pressing the left arrow key. And, you know, I'm going to go ahead and complete this guy because he's not really going to fit in this little white region, so I'll complete this path outline using the Pen tool. By pressing the P key, first of all, and then I'll click right at that point there, and then I'll click here and click right about there.

I figure click at this location and then click at the first end point in order to finish off the path outline. Notice that it has no fill and no stroke, so I'll press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool. Click on that path outline to select it and then go up to the very first swatch in the control panel and change it to white. And we end up with this effect right here. Which might have a little bit too much wave associated with it, but I actually like that effect. So, I'll just go ahead and press Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on the Mac to zoom out for my artwork.

And the results are some very basic design modifications, implemented quickly and intuitively using the revamped Pencil tool.

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