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Illustrator CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Working with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools


From:

Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

with Justin Seeley

Video: Working with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools

One of the most basic ways to draw paths and shapes inside of Illustrator is to freehand draw them utilizing the Paintbrush and Pencil tools. In this movie, I'll walk you through using both of these, and how you can create some really simple, hand-drawn pieces of artwork. I am going to start off by creating a brand new document, and in order to do that, I am going to hit Command+N or Control+N on my keyboard. Once I do that, I will accept the defaults, and hit OK. Once I get my new document created, I am going to come over to find the Paintbrush tool, and the Pencil tool. The Paintbrush tool can be accessed by hitting the letter B on your keyboard, or simply by clicking it in the Tools panel.
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  1. 1m 15s
    1. What is Illustrator?
      1m 15s
  2. 2m 17s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
  3. 41m 25s
    1. Understanding vector graphics
      5m 0s
    2. Setting preferences
      9m 24s
    3. Touring the interface
      9m 41s
    4. Exploring the panels
      6m 54s
    5. Working with the Control panel
      4m 25s
    6. Creating and saving workspaces
      6m 1s
  4. 43m 42s
    1. Creating files for print
      4m 42s
    2. Creating files for the web
      3m 36s
    3. Managing multiple documents
      3m 25s
    4. Navigating within a document
      5m 21s
    5. Using rulers, guides, and grids
      6m 59s
    6. Changing units of measurement
      1m 50s
    7. Using preview modes
      3m 10s
    8. Creating and using custom views
      3m 12s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 43s
    10. Creating and using artboards
      7m 44s
  5. 1h 1m
    1. Setting your selection preferences
      5m 57s
    2. Using the Direct Selection and Group Selection tools
      4m 6s
    3. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 45s
    4. Using the Lasso tool
      4m 9s
    5. Selecting objects by attribute
      6m 48s
    6. Grouping objects
      3m 7s
    7. Using isolation mode
      4m 48s
    8. Resizing your artwork
      3m 55s
    9. Rotating objects
      2m 10s
    10. Distorting and transforming objects
      6m 26s
    11. Repeating transformations
      5m 6s
    12. Reflecting and skewing objects
      4m 54s
    13. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 38s
  6. 29m 27s
    1. RGB vs. CMYK
      1m 46s
    2. Adjusting Illustrator color settings
      5m 10s
    3. Process vs. global swatches
      5m 6s
    4. Creating spot colors
      3m 40s
    5. Using the swatch groups
      2m 33s
    6. Working with color libraries
      3m 17s
    7. Importing swatches
      4m 4s
    8. Using the Color Guide panel
      3m 51s
  7. 57m 36s
    1. Understanding fills and strokes
      4m 18s
    2. Working with fills
      4m 58s
    3. Working with strokes
      8m 46s
    4. Creating dashes and arrows
      8m 1s
    5. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 3s
    6. Using width profiles
      3m 31s
    7. Outlining strokes
      3m 51s
    8. Creating and editing gradients
      5m 45s
    9. Applying gradients to strokes
      3m 8s
    10. Applying and editing pattern fills
      4m 52s
    11. Creating your own pattern fill
      6m 23s
  8. 20m 20s
    1. Understanding paths
      2m 41s
    2. Understanding anchor points
      4m 20s
    3. Working with open and closed paths
      5m 28s
    4. Joining and averaging paths
      4m 9s
    5. Using the Scissors tool and the Knife tool
      3m 42s
  9. 37m 56s
    1. Understanding drawing modes
      4m 23s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 15s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      4m 11s
    4. Working with the Shape Builder tool
      6m 32s
    5. Working with the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      5m 26s
    6. Working with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools
      7m 8s
    7. Smoothing and erasing paths
      5m 1s
  10. 35m 53s
    1. Exploring the Pen tool
      2m 39s
    2. Drawing straight lines
      5m 12s
    3. Drawing simple curves
      5m 23s
    4. Understanding the many faces of the Pen tool
      6m 10s
    5. Converting corners and curves
      1m 46s
    6. Your keyboard is your friend
      2m 14s
    7. Tracing artwork with the Pen tool
      12m 29s
  11. 35m 33s
    1. Adjusting your type settings
      4m 10s
    2. Creating point and area text
      3m 36s
    3. Basic text editing
      2m 14s
    4. Creating threaded text
      4m 59s
    5. Using the type panels
      9m 48s
    6. Creating text on a path
      5m 11s
    7. Converting text into paths
      1m 43s
    8. Saving time with keyboard shortcuts
      3m 52s
  12. 27m 25s
    1. Exploring the Appearance panel
      4m 44s
    2. Explaining attribute stacking order
      1m 40s
    3. Applying multiple fills
      3m 1s
    4. Applying multiple strokes
      4m 20s
    5. Adjusting appearance with live effects
      4m 46s
    6. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      8m 54s
  13. 20m 44s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      4m 18s
    2. Creating and editing layers
      3m 27s
    3. Targeting objects in the Layers panel
      3m 3s
    4. Working with sublayers
      3m 0s
    5. Hiding, locking, and deleting layers
      4m 14s
    6. Using the Layers panel menu
      2m 42s
  14. 46m 0s
    1. Placing images into Illustrator
      2m 53s
    2. Working with the Links panel
      6m 5s
    3. Embedding images into Illustrator
      3m 12s
    4. Cropping images with a mask
      5m 8s
    5. Exploring the Image Trace panel
      12m 14s
    6. Tracing photographs
      8m 6s
    7. Tracing line art
      4m 33s
    8. Converting pixels to paths
      3m 49s
  15. 19m 21s
    1. What are symbols?
      2m 45s
    2. Using prebuilt symbols
      3m 3s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      4m 19s
    4. Creating new symbols
      3m 50s
    5. Breaking the symbol link
      3m 19s
    6. Redefining symbols
      2m 5s
  16. 12m 9s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      4m 29s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      3m 49s
    3. Applying artwork to the grid
      3m 51s
  17. 35m 7s
    1. Printing your artwork
      6m 16s
    2. Saving your artwork
      2m 2s
    3. Saving in legacy formats
      3m 0s
    4. Saving templates
      4m 18s
    5. Creating PDF files
      5m 23s
    6. Saving for the web
      4m 46s
    7. Creating high-res bitmap images
      3m 58s
    8. Using Illustrator files in Photoshop and InDesign
      5m 24s
  18. 56s
    1. Next steps
      56s

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Illustrator CS6 Essential Training
8h 48m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Adobe Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks, from illustration to app development. This course demonstrates core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow—for print, the web, or building assets that will find their way into other applications. Author Justin Seeley explains the elements that make up vector graphics (paths, strokes, and fills) while showing how to use each of the drawing tools, and demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths and organize them into groups and layers. The course also covers text editing, working with color, effects, and much more.

Topics include:
  • Understanding vector graphics
  • Creating and setting up files for print or web destinations
  • Selecting and transforming objects on the page
  • Creating spot colors
  • Applying fills, strokes, and gradients to artwork
  • Adjusting appearances and effects
  • Working with anchor points and paths
  • Drawing with the Pen tool
  • Creating text
  • Managing layers
  • Creating and using symbols
  • Printing, saving, and exporting artwork
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Justin Seeley

Working with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools

One of the most basic ways to draw paths and shapes inside of Illustrator is to freehand draw them utilizing the Paintbrush and Pencil tools. In this movie, I'll walk you through using both of these, and how you can create some really simple, hand-drawn pieces of artwork. I am going to start off by creating a brand new document, and in order to do that, I am going to hit Command+N or Control+N on my keyboard. Once I do that, I will accept the defaults, and hit OK. Once I get my new document created, I am going to come over to find the Paintbrush tool, and the Pencil tool. The Paintbrush tool can be accessed by hitting the letter B on your keyboard, or simply by clicking it in the Tools panel.

The Pencil tool can be accessed by hitting the letter N on your keyboard. You'll notice the keyboard shortcuts when you hover over them. I am going to first start off with the brush tool, and with the Paintbrush tool selected, I can either come out here and start painting, or I can set up some options. I will worry about the options in just a second. Let me show you exactly how the Paintbrush tool works. Basically, you just come out here, and it's like you have a paintbrush in your hand. Your mouse cursor is controlling the paintbrush. You just come out and start making shapes. So in this case, I will just make, like, a cursive J. There we go. Very simple; very easy.

It doesn't select the path after you get done drawing it, though, but you can set that up inside of the Illustrator options. Let me grab my Selection tool, and select this piece of artwork, and delete it. Let's go over now to the brush, and double-click on the Paintbrush tool. When I double-click on the Paintbrush tool, you are going to see that there are several different options available to you. Fidelity; this controls how far you have to move your mouse or stylus before Illustrator adds a new anchor point to the path. Basically, when you are moving your hand around, and drawing with the Paintbrush tool, Illustrator is automatically dropping anchor points every four pixels, let's say.

You can increase or decrease this amount by adjusting the Fidelity. The Smoothness controls the amount of smoothing that Illustrator applies when you're using this tool. When you are drawing with a mouse, you might want to turn up the Smoothness just a little bit. If you are drawing with the drawing tablet, you're probably to be okay here, but you might want to crank up the Smoothness if you find that your paths are a little too jagged. You also have several options here at the bottom. Fill new brush strokes; basically this means the new path that you draw is automatically going to have a fill color associated with it. In most cases, though, you might not want this unless you are drawing a completely closed path.

If you are just drawing strokes, there's no need for a fill. Keep Selected; this determines whether or not Illustrator keeps the artwork selected once you have draw it. I am going to go ahead and turn this on. You can also choose to Edit Selected Paths, which determines whether you can change an existing path with the Paintbrush tool. Basically, this means if you have a path already on your screen, you can use the Paintbrush tool to add brushstrokes to it. And then finally, you get a slider that says Within. This means how far away from a path do you have to be before Illustrator allows you to add to it? In this case, you have to be within 12 pixels of this.

You can ask a reduce this to make sure you are more precise, or you can increase it to make it a little bit more loose. If you want to reset this dialog box after you have made any changes in here, you can simply hit the Reset button. I am going to hit OK, and keep going. When I am drawing with the Paintbrush tool, I can do lots of different things. I can draw freeform paths, like this, and as you can see, they remain selected after I have drawn them, simply because I made that change in the options. In addition to the freeform paths, I can also draw closed paths as well.

As I'm drawing with the Paintbrush tool, I can hold down the Option or Alt key, and a circle appears. Once I go around, and I'm ready to complete my path, I can let go of my mouse, and Illustrator automatically completes the path for me, then I can let go of my Option or Alt key. Let's try that one more time. I am going to start drawing a shape, and I will just draw something wacky, kind of like a star. When I am ready to complete this, I hold down the Option or Alt key, let go of my mouse, and then let go of my Option or Alt key.

Illustrator has drawn the shape for me, and closed the path. Otherwise, if I don't hold down the Option or Alt key, it's very difficult to draw a closed path. If I zoom in to the shape I just drew, you will notice these didn't join up. So I would have to use something like Join or Average in order to get them to make one single path. Now let's select all of these, and we will get rid of them, and let's go over and grab the Pencil tool.

The Pencil tool, much like the Paintbrush tool, has options associated with it as well. Let's double-click the Pencil tool to open those up. Again, you get Tolerances at the top; Fidelity, and Smoothness. Fidelity controls how for you have to move your mouse or stylus before Illustrator drops a new anchor point. In this case, it's set to 2.5. It's a little bit lower than the Paintbrush tool is, by default. Smoothness; smoothness with the Pencil tool is very important, because the Pencil tool is just like a pencil, it's very fine pointed, and it's kind of hard to draw a really nice curved line with it.

You might want to crank up the Smoothness if you are drawing a lot of curves. You also have Options: to fill the new pencil strokes; that means you add a fill as you start to draw with the Pencil tool. You can also choose to keep it selected afterwards, Edit Selected Paths, which means, if you already have paths on your artboard, you can add pencil strokes to it, and again, the Within slider at the bottom, indicating how close to the existing path you have to be before you're allowed to add to it. Let's go ahead now and hit OK. Now I will come out here, and I will just start drawing with the Pencil tool.

As you can see, it's very simple just to come out and draw. But I can't make very nice curves; you see there, it's kind of jagged in certain areas. Same way here. So the Pencil tool without the Smoothness cranked up is a little bit difficult to use, in my opinion. Let's double-click that, and I will crank up the Smoothness quite a bit; something like 50%. Hit OK, and watch the difference. See how nice and smooth that is? It really simplifies the path, and makes it a lot more smooth.

Same way here. If I draw that, not as many anchor points; not as many corners. Let me select all of this, we will press Backspace or Delete. When you are drawing with the Pencil tool, or the brush tool, you always have the option to create open or closed paths, and it's totally up to you. But remember, you had to hold down the Option or Alt key while you are drawing it in order for the path to know that it's supposed to close itself when you're done. All in all, freeform drawing inside of Illustrator is best served when you're using a tablet drawing device or a stylus.

Drawing with a mouse is pretty difficult unless you have a really steady hand. So my recommendation is to go out and try to find some sort of drawing device if you're going to be doing a lot of freehand drawing. Once you've mastered drawing with your device, you can actually come back in and start practicing with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools, and see what develops. You will be amazed that what you can create with one of those devices, compared to how it works with the mouse.

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