Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool
Illustration by John Hersey

Using the Smooth tool


From:

Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

with Mordy Golding

Video: Using the Smooth tool

In the previous movie, we saw how we can use the Reshape tool inside of Illustrator to turn straight lines into beautiful curves. However, sometimes we struggle with getting our curves to look nice and clean. In this movie, we are going to talk about another tool inside of Illustrator called the Smooth tool. And this allows us to kind of paint over paths and have those paths become smooth curves as we do so. So let's see how that works. So I am going to kind of zoom in on Mister Zee over here, on the back part of this curve that we try to create before that really doesn't look that smooth.
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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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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool
4h 39m Intermediate Oct 06, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this installment of the Illustrator Insider Training series, Mordy Golding shows how to draw vector artwork quickly, precisely, and efficiently—without having to think about technical concepts like anchor points or control handles. The course highlights intuitive drawing techniques using the Pathfinder functions, Live Paint groups, Shape Builder tool, and variable-width strokes. It also describes the sketching workflow and features in Illustrator that use pressure-sensitive drawing tablets, allowing designers to focus more on their creativity.

Topics include:
  • Drawing artwork versus building artwork
  • Sketching ideas on paper
  • Creating curves with the Reshape tool
  • Recording actions for speed and accuracy
  • Working with the Pathfinder functions
  • Understanding how Live Paint works
  • Using the Shape Builder tool
  • Building and coloring artwork at the same time
  • Turning variable-width strokes into filled paths
  • Adjusting the behavior of the Pencil tool
  • Drawing with the Calligraphic brush
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Mordy Golding

Using the Smooth tool

In the previous movie, we saw how we can use the Reshape tool inside of Illustrator to turn straight lines into beautiful curves. However, sometimes we struggle with getting our curves to look nice and clean. In this movie, we are going to talk about another tool inside of Illustrator called the Smooth tool. And this allows us to kind of paint over paths and have those paths become smooth curves as we do so. So let's see how that works. So I am going to kind of zoom in on Mister Zee over here, on the back part of this curve that we try to create before that really doesn't look that smooth.

So zoom in just a little bit more over here and kind of center it on my screen. I am going to select the path, underneath the Pencil tool. Right over here I see and we are going to find the Smooth tool. The Smooth tool basically works just like the Pencil tool, meaning you click and drag with it, but as you click and drag over a path, Illustrator is now going to go ahead and smooth that out. Now it's important to realize that smoothing does not mean making fewer anchor points, sometimes when you make a path more smooth Illustrator adds anchor points, but again at this stage we don't really care about anchor points at all.

So, kind of put that out of your mind, and let's just focus on the actual shape and smoothness of the path itself. Now what I can do over here at this part is simply kind of come over it and kind of drag down, and we can see how it's kind of smoothing out as I do so. And if I push upwards over here, I also have ways to kind of make sure that this is going to start matching a curve. Bring it down just a little bit more and I can do a better job on kind of bringing it in or pushing it outwards as well. I can't be very precise with the Smooth tool, but in many cases if I'm kind of looking at a path and I just want to smooth it out just a little bit, I can start to use the Smooth tool to allow me to take things that don't look so fine or clean and kind of even that out just a little bit.

When you're using a tool like the Smooth tool and you are using the mouse, it's kind of hard to do these brush motions with the mouse. And if you do have a pen tablet like a Wacom tablet for example, kind of doing it with the pen is a much more natural motion and that you will find it easier to control the Smooth tool. In fact, that's why the Smooth tool and the Pencil tool kind of work hand-in-hand. But I'll also tell you that there are another other uses for the Smooth tool. In fact, if we kind of come down over here to let's say the foot part of Mister Zee. Let's kind of focus maybe on this section right over here.

And I can actually start by creating this by using a plain rectangle, and then modifying it with various other tools. I am going to start by selecting the Rectangle tool and I am just going to click and drag over here to make a rectangle about this big, and I am going to hit the R key to rotate it, set my origin point here, and kind of rotate it down just a little bit on an angle like this. I am going to switch to my Direct Selection tool here, deselect the path, and only select just this top path over here, because I can now use my Reshape tool to click and drag and kind of bend that curve down right over there.

But I still have like these rounded parts in the bottom that I want to work with. So I am now going to switch to my Smooth tool. I am going to use the Smooth tool. You can actually click and drag over a corner and as you kind of mouse over the corner and adjust it you see how it kind of turns now into a curve. And I can do the same down over here also. So, now I am creating the bottom parts of the shape that I want. Now, of course, when I am using the Smooth tool, because I don't have that much control over my path, I may end up with little wonky areas like this, but I can of course use the Reshape tool to bend that back to where it belongs.

But for now, I have the ability to use my Smooth tool, not only to take existing curves and kind of smooth them out like we did at the top of the body, but I can even take a regular rectangle and have it have nice rounded corners to match to shape that I going for.

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