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Using Simplify to create smooth paths

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

Video: Using Simplify to create smooth paths

So we know that we can use the Smooth tool inside of Illustrator to kind of paint or draw over a path to kind of smooth it out. However, like we said before also it's not really the most efficient way if you have a mouse and it can sometimes introduce additional anchor points to your path. Well, let's talk about a different method on actually how we might be able to smooth paths. More importantly, a way to smooth paths and also reduce the number of anchor points in your artwork, so that it's more simple and easier to edit in the future. There is a command inside of Illustrator called Simply. Its main goal is to take a path that has a lot of anchor points and usually extraneous anchor points, and reduce the number of anchor points so the path will be more simplified and will print faster.

Using Simplify to create smooth paths

So we know that we can use the Smooth tool inside of Illustrator to kind of paint or draw over a path to kind of smooth it out. However, like we said before also it's not really the most efficient way if you have a mouse and it can sometimes introduce additional anchor points to your path. Well, let's talk about a different method on actually how we might be able to smooth paths. More importantly, a way to smooth paths and also reduce the number of anchor points in your artwork, so that it's more simple and easier to edit in the future. There is a command inside of Illustrator called Simply. Its main goal is to take a path that has a lot of anchor points and usually extraneous anchor points, and reduce the number of anchor points so the path will be more simplified and will print faster.

However, when you sometimes reduce the anchor points, you also need to kind of smooth out the path, and simplify actually works great for this kind of technique. Let me zoom in over here on this file here. It's called Sketch5.ai, and I am going to zoom in right here on this part of the back file and select this path. Next, I am going to go over here to the Object menu and I'll choose Path and then I will choose Simplify. Now, I am going to move over the dialog here so we can actually see what's happening to the path as we apply these settings. When I click on the Preview button and you can see that Illustrator before the path had 5 points. Now Illustrator made it to only have 3 points.

So it reduced the number of anchor points and it also made a really nice smooth curve along the path itself. We can adjust this Curve Precision for our specific needs. But I will tell you that I usually when I am working inside of Illustrator use two different settings. I use a Curve Precision at 50% like I have here, when I want to make large wholesale adjustments to a path. However, sometimes if I get a path pretty close to where I want it to be, I just want to clean up some extra anchor points, I will use a Curve Precision of 95%. I am going to give you another example of that also.

I am going to click OK in this case, and I have now a nice smooth path. But let's take a look at this shape that we created earlier for the hind leg. If I click on this right now, it looks pretty smooth, but it still has some extra anchor points they really don't need to be there. And on top of that, I really want to make sure that it's a smooth as it can be possibly be. So I am going to go back to the Object menu, choose Path, then I'll choose Simplify. But this time I am going to use a value of 95%, and you notice again we have reduced the number of anchor points and if I click OK, I'll see that it also kind of really smoothed out the path and gives me a beautiful result.

So I find that sometimes working inside of Illustrator, when use the Reshape tool, it does sometimes add extra anchor points but I don't care, because I can use the Simplify command very easily to not only reduce the anchor points, but to also get a really nice smooth result. Of course, you could be asking yourself, well I am going to be drawing a lot of paths, I don't want to have to constantly be drawing the path, bending the path and then applying another Simplify command on top of that. Well, in the next movie we will explore some ways to make you little bit easier and faster to apply these simplify functions to our paths.

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This video is part of

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  1. 7m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 21s
    2. The evolution of vector drawing
      3m 46s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      27s
  2. 39m 2s
    1. Plotting points vs. drawing paths
      5m 36s
    2. Drawing artwork vs. building artwork
      7m 59s
    3. The keyboard shortcuts you HAVE to know
      8m 52s
    4. Groups and layers really do matter
      3m 11s
    5. Taming Smart Guides and the Bounding Box
      10m 53s
    6. Do you need a drawing tablet?
      2m 31s
  3. 47m 51s
    1. To sketch or not to sketch?
      2m 32s
    2. Setting up a template layer for your sketch
      3m 37s
    3. Optimizing default settings for drawing
      5m 27s
    4. Using the primitive shapes tools
      5m 7s
    5. Mastering the modifier keys
      2m 8s
    6. Mastering the transform tools
      6m 37s
    7. Creating curves with the Reshape tool
      6m 44s
    8. Using the Smooth tool
      3m 35s
    9. Using Simplify to create smooth paths
      3m 2s
    10. Recording an action for the Simplify command
      5m 2s
    11. Mirroring art for speed and accuracy
      4m 0s
  4. 50m 18s
    1. Deconstructing the Pathfinder panel
      1m 56s
    2. Using the Shape Modes functions
      12m 4s
    3. Using the Pathfinder functions
      13m 4s
    4. Understanding how compound shapes work
      11m 45s
    5. Understanding why compound shapes exist
      7m 32s
    6. Exploring additional Pathfinder options
      3m 57s
  5. 52m 51s
    1. Why Live Paint was created
      10m 45s
    2. Creating a Live Paint group
      4m 21s
    3. Using the Live Paint Bucket tool
      7m 8s
    4. Using Live Paint with open paths
      5m 6s
    5. Detecting gaps in Live Paint groups
      3m 42s
    6. Adding paths to a Live Paint group
      5m 34s
    7. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      6m 28s
    8. Releasing and expanding Live Paint groups
      2m 59s
    9. Understanding how Live Paint works
      6m 48s
  6. 27m 37s
    1. Why the Shape Builder tool was created
      4m 18s
    2. Focusing on the big three: Add, Subtract, and Divide
      2m 27s
    3. Using the Shape Builder tool to add and subtract artwork
      9m 50s
    4. Using the Shape Builder to divide artwork
      3m 48s
    5. Building and coloring artwork at the same time
      3m 50s
    6. Using Gap Detection with the Shape Builder tool
      3m 24s
  7. 23m 2s
    1. Understanding how variable widths work
      8m 25s
    2. Modifying width points along a path
      7m 9s
    3. Saving time with width profiles
      5m 14s
    4. Turning variable width strokes into filled paths
      2m 14s
  8. 28m 21s
    1. Understanding how the Pen and Pencil tools differ
      4m 41s
    2. Adjusting the behavior of the Pencil tool
      7m 5s
    3. Using the Path Eraser tool
      1m 17s
    4. Drawing with the Calligraphic Brush tool
      5m 43s
    5. Drawing with the Blob Brush tool
      5m 53s
    6. Using the Eraser tool
      3m 42s
  9. 3m 44s
    1. Looking at the VectorScribe plug-in
      2m 16s
    2. Next steps
      1m 28s

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