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In Illustrator, the Pen tool does exist as its own stand-alone tool, but it also has many other faces that you might encounter as you start working with artwork. In this movie, we will explore the many faces of the Pen tool, and what they mean, so that you know what the Pen tool is about to do as you encounter it inside of Illustrator. The first thing I have to do, of course, is switch to the Pen tool, and I can do that with the letter P on my keyboard, or by clicking it. I'm also going to bring the Pen tools out on screen, so you can see them individually. In order to do that, you're going to click and hold on the Pen tool, then come over here to the right, and find this little arrow, and click.
Once I do that, it brings the Pen tools out on screen, and I now have the ability to see each one of them without having to go back over to the tools panel each time. The Pen tool is actually comprised of four different tools: the regular Pen tool, the Add Anchor Point tool, the Delete Anchor Point tool, and the Convert Anchor Point tool. The Add and Delete Anchor Point tools are merely the Pen tool with a Plus sign or a Minus sign attached to them, and their names pretty much tell you exactly what they do. The Add Anchor Point tool adds anchor points to an existing path.
The Delete Anchor Point tool deletes anchor points from an existing path. The Convert Anchor Point tool is the oddball in the family. It doesn't have the Pen tool as part of its icon, and it does something a little bit different than the others. We are going to cover this guy in his own movie a little bit later on, but for now, just know that it turns curves into corners, and corners into curves. Now let's focus on the Pen tool itself. The Pen tool, when you have it selected inside of Illustrator, will automatically have a small Asterisk at the bottom of the icon when you bring it out on the artboard.
This indicates that the Pen tool is ready to start dropping anchor points. At any given time, I can just click to start creating new artwork. The Add Anchor Point tool is the Pen tool with a Plus sign in the bottom right-hand corner. This indicates that you're going to add anchor points to an existing path. So in this case, if I come down to this line, I can click to add an anchor point somewhere close to the middle. It doesn't change the overall appearance of the path -- as a matter of fact, it's designed not to change the appearance -- but with that anchor point in the middle, I now have finite control over this portion of the path, and this portion of the path.
So if I grab my Direct Selection tool, for instance, I could select this anchor point, and then nudge it upward with my arrow keys, and create a slanted appearance to the path, whereas before I added that point, I couldn't have done that. I could have curved it, but I couldn't have made that little indentation. If I go up and select the Delete Anchor Point tool, and come right to this point, and remove it, the path automatically snaps back to a completely straight line, because there is no point in between to make that path go upward at all.
Let's take a look at how this works on a more complex path. I am going to go down, and I am going to select the half of this vase right here. If I grab the Add Anchor Point tool, and I start to add anchor points to this, here, and here, you can see that I get a pretty decent level of control over those points. I will zoom in so you can see this. Now I've got two points -- here, and here -- that actually have their own control handles. If I grab the Direct Selection tool, I can come out here, and I can actually maneuver these individually.
Now, this can be both good and bad, because adding anchor points complicates a path, and I'm of the opinion that a simpler path creates smoother curves, and better looking artwork. The least amount of points you can have while creating the artwork that you desire, the better. But in this case, I've added these two, and I've kind of messed things up. Let's see what happens when I delete these anchor points now. Come back, and I will delete this anchor point, and I'll delete this point. You'll notice that it automatically snaps back to where these anchor points are the only things that are controlling the curve.
However, it's trying to do this in the least amount of space as possible, and it's simplified these control handles as well. If I want to bow that back out, I have to then go back in, and use my control handles to do so; something kind of like this. Then I will zoom back out, and click away. So it takes a little bit of work, if you add and delete anchor points over and over, to get things back to where they were. That's why I say, leave it as simple as possible, but if you absolutely have to add an anchor point, or delete an anchor point, just be careful while you're doing so.
Other things that you might see while you're working with the Pen tool itself are different icons that occur while you're using the Pen tool. Let's take a look at some of those now, and I will zoom in so you can see this by using Control+Spacebar, temporarily. When I get next to a path, with the Pen tool, that already exists, I can actually add anchor points to this path simply by clicking onto the path itself. When I get close to the anchor point I just drew, the Pen tool automatically gets a little Minus sign next to it. This indicates that the Pen tool has temporarily changed from its regular self to the Delete Anchor Point tool.
If I were to click, it would remove that anchor point. Now let's switch to the Direct Selection tool. If the Direct Selection tool is selected, I can actually find one of the anchor points that makes up this path, then I will grab the Pen tool. When I am come in here with the Pen tool, you notice I get that Minus sign again, where I can remove that anchor point. I can also add anchor points around it, and you will notice it changes to the Plus sign, indicating that I've now switched to the Add Anchor Point tool. If I come back to this point right here, and I hold down the Option or Alt key, it temporarily changes to the Convert Anchor Point tool.
So as you continue to work with the Pen tool, you don't even have to switch to the other tools, necessarily. The Pen tool is adaptive, in the fact that when it comes to anchor points, or existing paths, it automatically changes itself to fit the context of what it thinks you might be trying to do. Let's zoom back out now, and I will simply click away from this to deselect all of the artwork. As you continue to work throughout Illustrator, you're going to encounter the many faces of the Pen tool. Hopefully by now you have a better understanding of all them, and how to react to them as you encounter them in your workflow.
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