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Another one of the building blocks of artwork here inside of Illustrator are the anchor points. Everything you create inside of Illustrator is made up of paths and anchor points. We've already talked about exactly what paths are; you know those are the skeletons that make up the artwork that we are working on. However, the anchor points are the joints that hold that skeleton together. If you look at this document that I have open here, you will notice that I have two squares on the end of this line right in the middle. If the path is this line going between them, the anchor points are these boxes at the end which serve as holding places for the ends of that path.
Without those anchor points, the path has nowhere to start and stop. As you work throughout Illustrator, you are going to see many different kinds of anchor points. You are going to run into selected anchor points, non-selected anchor points and you may even see anchor points with control handles associated with them as well. What you need to know is these are the points the control where your path goes, and also how your path reacts in terms of curves and things like that. Let's take a look at a real world example. I'm going to create a new document by going up to the File menu and choosing New. Once I do that, I will just hit OK to accept the defaults and start a new document.
It doesn't matter what kind of document you create as long as you get one. I am going to go over and I am just going to grab the Pen tool for a moment. Don't worry if you have never used a Pen tool before; we are going to cover that in its own chapter later on in this course. But for now, I am just going to draw out some paths with anchor point so you can see exactly what I mean. I am going to first draw out a straight line. So I am just going to click and click to draw the line. You will notice here at the end of this path, I have an anchor point here and an anchor point here. I can grab the Direct Selection tool and find these anchor points by hovering over them like so.
Notice when I hover, it actually says anchor. If I click on one of those anchor points, it becomes active. When you're dealing with anchor points, anytime you see one that's filled with blue like the one you see here, that means that anchor point has been selected. And unselected anchor point will have white in the middle, like this. If I were to click over to this anchor point, it becomes the one selected and this one becomes deselected. You could also hold down the Shift key and click to select both anchor points. Now they're both selected and I can actually move them in unison with one another.
If however, I only had one selected, I can move it independently of the other. So you see I can easily change the slant of my line simply by selecting the anchor point and hitting the arrow keys on my keyboard. Again, the anchor points are the control point for your paths; they tell the path where to go. So if you think of the path in terms of a roadway that your artwork follows, these are the road signs that tell you exactly where you're supposed to be going. Let's undo this and get back to my straight line, just like so.
Once I get my straight line back, I can actually remove it because now I want to go and do a curve. So I will grab my Pen tool again and I will just make a curved line. Once I do that, you're going to see something very different happened to the anchor points; you actually seasonal antenna looking things coming off of the anchor point. These are called control handles. And when you are dealing with curves inside of Illustrator, you always have to deal with control handles. This is something that confuses a lot of people because they don't understand the difference between control handles and anchor points.
The anchor point is merely a place to tell the path to start and stop. The control handles or control points actually tell the path how to curve up or down. For instance, if I come up here--let me grab my Selection tool so you can actually see this. If I come up here and grab this handle and start to drag, notice how it changes the curvature of the line. Getting closer to the original anchor point, shrinks the curve, dragging it farther away, increases the curve. I can also change the direction with this handle as well.
When I get the curve like I want it, I can release. The same holds true for this curve over here. If I select this handle, I can control the curvature of the line like this. If I click away, I no longer see those control points; I only see my curved line. We will get into drawing curves a little bit later, but I just wanted to make you aware of exactly what anchor points are and how they work. So hopefully, by now you have a better understanding of what paths and anchor points are, and how they affect the overall appearance and structure of your artwork.
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