Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with Bézier curves, part of Adobe Pen Tool: Mastery.
- [Voiceover] In this movie, we're going to talk about how you work with Bézier Curves, whether it's inside Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, or another Adobe program. And specifically, we'll talk about how you can modify the curves using the White Arrow tool, which just recently inside Illustrator CC 2017, lost its stem. So we just got a triangle as you can see up here at the top of the toolbar. And that may change but it doesn't really matter because inside all three of these applications, you can get to the White Arrow by pressing the A key, and also remember you can press Shift+A, to switch back and forth between the Black and White Arrows inside Photoshop.
Alright, so let's start with a look at what happens when you move anchor points. Anytime you drag an anchor point, you're also going to move its corresponding control handles. So they both move together as we're seeing here, which means you can stretch a segment or squish it. Both of which are analogous to scale operations. You could even drag the point in such a way that you skew the path outline or you can both skew and scale it if you like, and finally you can go ahead and flip the path outline by dragging the anchor points to opposite locations.
But the thing to bear in mind is that the basic shape of the segment remains recognizable. Even though you modified it, it still looks like an upside-down u. And so in other words, what we have here is a transformation. Compare that to moving control handles. Anytime you drag a control handle, it moves independently of its anchor point. And that means you're necessarily going to change the shape of the segment as we're seeing here, which is why this operation is called reshaping. Now it's tempting to think of control handles as alternately pulling and pushing the segment as we're seeing here.
So in other words, it might look like Handle 1 is pulling the segment to the left and Handle 2 is pushing it in that same direction. But in fact, they always pull at the segment, after all, if they were to just disappear, then the segment would invariably be straight. It might be angled if you like, but it's still straight. Now another thing to know about control handles is that they attract relative to their distances from the segment, and this is a frequently misunderstood concept. A lot of folks figure that they stretch according to the distance from the anchor point.
But just by way of demonstration here, I've made sure these two control handles are exactly the same distances from their respective anchor point. So I've even included a ruler here that shows roughly centimeters. So we've got a nine centimeter lever over here on the left and the right. But the control handles are pretty close to the segment, and as a result we have just a little bit of curvature. Notice that if we take these exact same levers, they're still the same length, and we move the control handles farther from the segment, we end up with a lot more curvature.
So it's the distance from the segment that really matters. And just a recap here, this is how the segment looks when the control handles are close to it and this is its appearance when we move the control handles farther away and obviously you can go as crazy as you like. And that's how you work with Bézier Curves. You can drag the anchor points to transform a segment or drag the control handles to reshape it.
- 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