Learn how to use PathScribe features within Astute Graphics VectorScribe to manipulate Bezier paths and points with much more precision than is possible in Illustrator alone. Walk through how to intuitively reshape path segments and create smooth transitions between them, how to remove points without distorting a path, how to manipulate corner and smooth points, and how to precisely control any attribute of direction handles.
- [Instructor] The PathScribe features in Astute Graphics' VectorScribe give you a whole new level of control over editing Bézier paths in Illustrator. With PathScribe you can intuitively reshape paths and quickly convert between smooth points and corner points and you can select and change path-direction handles with extreme precision and ease. Even if you're a long-time Illustrator user you may never have even imagined the kind of control that you can have with PathScribe. So let's try it out. I'll open the PathScribe panel by going to the window menu and choosing VectorScribe, PathScribe panel.
I'll zoom in on this rectangle here. I'll select the PathScribe tool. As I move my cursor over the anchor points in the rectangle, I can see that, naturally, there are corner points. I don't need to select this path at all to start reshaping it. I can just click and drag on a segment. The path stays right under my cursor which feels a lot more natural than dragging Bézier handles away from a path.
You can see that, as I drag, those handles are automatically created and the segment changes from straight to curved. Note that where I click determines the direction of these handles. If I Undo, then click on the middle of the segment, and then hold the Shift key and start dragging, I get symmetrical handles. These handles create a smooth transition from the curve to the adjacent straight segments. And, in fact, these direction handles will stay locked in their orientation, no matter how I drag them.
When I select one, you can see the letter C that indicates the segment is connected to the adjacent ones. That's called the Connector feature and we'll look at it a bit more in just a minute. But, for now, I'll Undo. So I get my rectangle back. Instead of dragging near the middle of the segment, I'll click near one of the corners, then hold Shift and drag, and I still get symmetrical handles, but now they're not connected to the adjacent path segments. So I can drag them in any direction.
Now let's look at that Connector feature. It's the first button in the top row of the panel. Right here. And you can click to disable or enable it. And the purpose of the Connector is to help you create nice smooth transitions between curved and straight segments, by snapping the direction handle of the curved segment into alignment with the straight segment. So, for example, with the Connector enabled, I can drag this handle and when it gets close to being in alignment with the straight segment, it snaps.
And you can see the C up here. I'll do the same for the other handle. There it snaps. And now it will stay in alignment. Note that if I switch to the Direct Selection tool, I can move the handle in any direction, and that's because the Connector doesn't apply when you're using native Illustrator Tools. It's only with the PathScribe tool. I can also unlock a handle with the PathScribe tool just by turning off the Connector feature and then dragging the handle wherever I want it.
Another useful feature for making precise changes to your paths is the Slow Drag feature. With it, you can drag points or handles 10 times slower than normal. You just click and then hold down the Control key. And, yes, that's the Control key on the Mac too, not just Windows. And then drag. This way you can make very precise small adjustments in a way that would be very hard to do at normal speed. If you really like Slow Drag, then you can have it turned on in the PathScribe Preferences.
Just press Return or Enter when you have the tool to open the Preferences dialog box and you would turn on this choice here, Slow Drag is Default. I'm going to leave it turned off and close the dialog box. Next, I'll deselect and scroll down to this spiral path. And if I move my cursor with the PathScribe tool over any of the points, I can see that they're all smooth points. So if I select a point and drag any of the handles I change both adjacent segments.
I want to do that. Let's say I wanted to be able to control any segment without affecting any of the others. For that, I'd need to convert all these smooth points to corner points. PathScribe lets me do that very easily. First, I can select all the points by clicking this button. Then, I can click this button to change them to corner points. The appearance of the path didn't change at all. But now I can drag any handle independently.
Again, I'll Undo, select all the points, and now I can switch them all back to smooth points. Also with all the points selected, I can click the Split Path button to break this object into all its individual segments and then manipulate them independently or I'll Undo to make that one object again.
With the last button in the top row, I can use the Smart Remove feature to remove a point that I don't want on the path without totally distorting the adjacent segments. So, for example, take this point on the spiral. If I select it with the Direct Selection tool, and then take my Pen tool and click to remove that point, there's a big change in the appearance of the path because the two handles that now define this segment here and here, were not changed.
But if I Undo, take the PathScribe tool, select that same point and click the Smart Remove button, the handles are extended to compensate for the removal of the point and the shape of the path is preserved. Now, in some cases, PathScribe can't completely preserve the shape of a path, but usually it comes pretty close. Again, I'll Undo to bring that point back. And I can also use the panel buttons to retract handles by selecting points or segments.
Or I could select all the points and retract all the handles to really change the appearance of this object. Again, I'll Undo to get my spirals back. Next, I'll go to the panel menu, and choose Show Numeric Value Fields to show all the controls in the panel. Note that I can select all the handles on a path at once and I can drag to move them all at the same time or use the panel controls to make precise adjustments.
So I could set a value of 10 pixels, and click the Increment button to extend the handles by 10 pixels, or use negative values to retract the handles. I can scale them down or up and rotate them in either direction. I can also make absolute adjustments in the length and angle of the handles.
I can click on the artboard to bring back the original display of the panel. If I select a single point, I can see and adjust every one of its attributes here in the panel, including its x and y position, as well as the position, length and angle of both the in and out direction handles. At the bottom of the panel, I can see that I have selected the 11th point out of 29 points along this path and I can use these arrow keys to jump to each next point.
PathScribe also lets you copy direction handles and paste them onto another point. So, for example, if I scroll down and look at this object here, I have four curves, but they're all a little different because when I drew them, I wasn't very careful to make all the handles the same. But, PathScribe makes it easy for me to make them all the same. I just choose one of the points whose handles I want to apply to the others, and then go to the panel menu and choose Copy Handles, and then select the other points and choose Paste Handles.
And now these curves are the same. Also note that another important benefit of PathScribe is that the panel controls remain available when you're working with the Direct Selection tool or the Pen tool. So, in this movie, we saw some of the many PathScribe features within Astute Graphics' VectorScribe. You can use this powerful tool to manipulate Bézier paths and points with much more precision and convenience than with Illustrator alone.
You can intuitively reshape path segments and create smooth transitions between them. You can remove points without distorting a path. You can manipulate corner points and smooth points and precisely control any attribute of direction handles.
- Working with dynamic corners and shapes
- Moving points along a path
- Cleaning up vector artwork with redundant points
- Drawing with symmetry
- Connecting and straightening objects
- Adjusting colors with filters and effects
- Creating vector halftones
- Sketching with brushes and variable width strokes
- Configuring autosaves and automatic backups
- Stippling vector graphics, photos, and text
- Applying and editing texture effects