Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Dragging an unconstrained path, part of Adobe Pen Tool: Mastery.
- [Instructor] In this movie, we'll take a look at how you can reshape a curve segment, using what's known as direct-path dragging and that's where you drag a curve segment directly with the white arrow tool. Now we're going to start wit unconstrained path dragging, which is available to us inside of Illustrator and Photoshop, the caveat being that this requires Illustrator CC, Photoshop has always worked this way. And, so what you do is you drag on a curve segment directly. And dragging near the center is going to give you the most control.
And notice, as you drag, the control handles move but the anchor points remain stationary, which permits you to bend a segment in any direction you'd like, you can even drag it across the anchor point, in order to flip the segment. Now, we also have a little trick that's available to us, and that involves pressing and holding the shift key, and the idea is that you're going to snap the control handles so that they are perpendicular to the angle of the axis as defined by the anchor points. So in this case the angle of the anchor points is zero degrees, because they're aligned horizontally with each other, and so the perpendicular to that, would be 90 degrees, and so notice what happens here, I'll go ahead and press the A key to switch to my white arrow tool, here inside of Illustrator, I'll click on this segment, and notice now that I can just drag it around, like so, but if I press the shift key, then I'm constraining that drag, notice that.
And in Illustrator, this is always going to happen perpendicular to the angle of that axis, regardless of what that angle is, so if I go ahead and click on this segment, and press the shift key as I drag, notice now that the control handles are aligned, 90 degrees from the axis defined by the anchor points. And you will also notice here inside Illustrator, that pressing the shift key snaps both the levers to the same length, as we're seeing right here. That's not quite how it works inside Photoshop, as we'll see in a moment.
Alright now, we also have a special variation that works only inside Photoshop, and the idea here is that if you begin your drag off center and you cheat, that is to say, you cheat toward and anchor point as I've done here, then you're going to move both the control handles but you're also going to move that nearby anchor point, and that's going to happen to varying degrees, depending on the distance of your drag. So let see how that works. Here I am, inside Photoshop with a shape layer called shadow selected, and it is made of path outlines, and I can see that if I go ahead and switch from a black arrow tool here, to the white arrow tool, which I can get by pressing A, followed by Shift + A, and we can see that we have these path outlines.
Now the reason everything's so blurry is because, if I go up here to the Window menu, and choose the properties command, I've cranked the feather value all the way up to 100 pixels, which ends up softening the effect. If I took it down to zero pixels, you can see that we have nice sharp edges. That's not what I want however, so I'll press CTRL + Z, or Command + Z on a Mac to undo that change. Now, I'm just going to go ahead and marquee the segment like so in order to select it independently of the other segments, now notice, if I just start dragging, I am going to affect not only the active segment here, the one that I'm dragging, but I'm also going to affect the neighboring segments, and that's because I'm working with smooth points on either sides, which ensure that one control handle moves opposite to the other one.
And we'll talk more about smooth points in an upcoming movie, but, for now, I just want you to notice that if I start pressing the Shift key as I drag, you can see that the behavior is less predictable inside Photoshop than it is inside Illustrator. But we do have another option here, which is to begin the drag, let's say right about there, in which case, notice that I'm moving that anchor point along with the control handles. If you don't want that to happen, then move your cursor to the middle of the segment like so, and that will ensure that both the control handles move, while both the anchor points remain stationary.
And again, if you want to move the anchor point, just begin your drag someplace near to it like so. And that's how you take advantage of unconstrained path dragging, which is available inside of Illustrator CC, as well as any version of Photoshop.
- Creating and editing Bezier curves
- Drawing in Illustrator
- Working with a vector-based shape layer
- Tracing a complex image with the Pen tool
- Using a vector mask in a composition
- Drawing a custom symbol in InDesign
- Creating inline graphics
- Wrapping text around an offset path
- Customizing text converted to outlines