Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with corner points, part of Learning the Adobe Pen Tool.
- All right, now that you're aware of the three kinds of anchor points that are available to you, I'm going to show you how to work with all of them, starting in this movie with corner points. Now here we are in Illustrator, just because it's the most representative of Adobe's drawing programs. And what we're going to draw is this green monster here using nothing more than a few simple line and shape tools along with the white arrow and just a little bit of Pen tool. I'll go and switch over to this starter document that includes a template, that includes this template layer just to make it easier to follow along.
And I'm going to select the Rectangle tool from the top of the Shape tool fly out menu. And now I'll just go ahead and drag, let's say, about there, in order to create a shape. Now here inside of Illustrator CC, we have a bunch of additional handles that allow us to scale the shape. And we also have these round corner widgets that you can use to change the roundness of the corners if you like. Now none of these options are available inside of Illustrator CS6 or earlier, but that's not a problem because we don't really need them.
So I'm just going to press Control + Z or Command + Z on the Mac, to undo that change. And I'm going to switch to my White arrow tool. Once again, Adobe calls it the Direct Selection tool, but you can get to it by pressing the A key for arrow. And now I'm going to click off the path outlined to deselect it. Now just because this guy starts off as a rectangle, doesn't mean it needs to remain a rectangle. Everything you draw in Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop can be modified as much as you like. So for example, I could click on this left-hand edge.
Notice that selects that straight segment right there independently of all the other segments, and you can see that's the case because all of these tiny square anchor points are hollow, indicating that they're deselected. And now I'll just go ahead and drag this edge down and just like that, we have a parallelogram in which the opposite sides are parallel to each other. If I want a trapezoid instead, I can just drag one of the anchor points and notice, as soon as I do, that anchor point become solid, indicating that it is selected; while the others remain hollow, indicating that they're deselected.
And what I'm going to do here is just drag this guy to about this location around the eye. And so I can better see what I'm doing, I'm going to click inside the shape in order to select the entire thing. Notice that I've got a black stroke, the outline around the shape, and I have a white fill. I want to change the fill to transparent and to do so, I'll go up hear to this first watch up hear in the horizontal control panel. And I'll click on it and then I'll set the fill color to none. And notice by the way that I'm seeing pretty large swatches, and that's because I'm looking at the medum thumbnail view.
All right, now I'll just go ahead and press the Escape key in order to hide that panel. Now let's say I want to move these anchor points a little bit more. If I start dragging them like so, I'll end up moving all of them because they are all solid and therefore, selected. So what I need to do instead is press Control + Z, Command + Z on the Mac to undo that change. Click off the shape to deselect it and then click on the anchor point that I want to move and then drag it into place like so. And notice, just like that, we end up with this sort of bag under the creature's eye.
All right, now let's say I want to draw the monster's head. I'll go ahead and switch to a different tool this time, the Polygon tool. Again, it's available from the Shape tool fly out menu. And I'll drag inside the document window, but notice that unlike the Rectangle tool, the Polygon tool works from the center outward. And so if you start at the wrong location, as I have, then you can move that shape on the fly, and this works with all the Line and Shape tools, by the way, by pressing and holding the spacebar. And so notice, when you have the spacebar down, you can move that shape, so I still have the mouse button down the entire time, and then when you get it into a desirable location, go ahead and release the spacebar, and then continue to draw like so.
All right, just as with the Rectangle tool, even though we have a hexagon by default, it doesn't have to remain a hexagon. To change it, all we have to do is switch to the white arrow by pressing the A key, that is by far the best way to work, and then go ahead and click off the shape to deselect it so that you can select the points independently, and then click on one of the anchor points and drag it into a better location like so. And I'm just going to ahead and move the anchor points around, as you are seeing me do here, to generally trace the shape that I've created in advance so that we end up with this freeform hexagon.
So it still has six sides, just like our original shape did, but the corner points, which have no control handles whatsoever, are now positioned at freeform locations. All right, now let's say I want to draw the teeth. Well for that, I need more anchor points. And one of the best tools for laying down a ton of anchor points is the Star tool. So I'll just go ahead and select that guy and I'll drag, once again, from the center outward this time. By default, you get a five-pointed star. And again, you can press the spacebar in order to move that star on the fly and then release the spacebar to continue drawing it.
And now I'll go ahead and release the mouse button and then I'll press the A key to once again switch to my White Arrow tool. Now notice that all of the anchor points are solid, therefore they're all selected. So I can't just go dragging one of these points around. I need to either click off the shape to deselect it and then click on an anchor point; or in recent versions of Illustrator, you can just click on an anchor point to select it independently, as I've done here. Now what I'm going to do is move these anchor points to some pretty crazy locations like so.
And you wouldn't think that you could turn a star into a bunch of teeth, but it actually works beautifully here inside of Illustrator, as well as InDesign and Photoshop. So all of these tricks are going to work the same way inside of all the different applications. Now I'll go ahead and drag this guy down there, and I'll move this point into this location and finally, we need to take this one down. So it'll ultimately be hidden by the larger shape in the background. Now currently, all these shapes are transparent so we're seeing through all of them. And also, by the way, this polygon isn't really matching the green shape of the monster's face.
I need to add another point right at this location and move it here. And so what I'm going to do is click anywhere on this path in order to select it. And by this path, I mean the big modified hexagon. And now, to add an anchor point, all you need to do is select the Pen tool. So this is our introduction to the Pen tool, but a very simple one. And you can get to the pen by the way, by pressing the P key. And then move your cursor over a selected segment. So the path outlined has to be somewhat selected, as we're seeing right here, even if all the anchor points are deselected.
In which case, if I hover over one of the selected segments, you'll see that my Pen tool has a little plus sign next to it, which means when I click, I'll add an anchor point at that location. And now to move it, I'll just press the A key in order to switch back to the White Arrow tool, and I'll just go ahead and drag this point into the desired location. All right, now let's say I'm looking at these teeth and I want to adjust the positions of the points just a little bit. I'll go ahead and click on one of the anchor points. And my problem, by the way, is the fact that this point is a little bit too far to the right so that the tooth is a little bit too thick.
So of course, I could drag that point in order to move it to a different location. But instead, what I want to do is nudge it from the keyboard. So I'll press Control + Z or Command + Z on the Mac to undo that move, and then I'll just press the left arrow key a few times in a row in order to nudge that anchor point to the left. And by default, when you press an arrow key on your keyboard, you're going to nudge the selected anchor point 1 point, that is 1/72 of an inch, in that direction. And now I'll go ahead and click off the path outlined to deselect it.
And that's how you turn a rectangle into an eye bag, as well as a polygon into a big monster face and a star into these jagged teeth, using nothing but corner points.
- Understanding how anchor points, segments, and control handles work
- Adding and deleting anchor points
- Working with smooth and cusp points
- Selecting and deselecting with the arrow tools
- Drawing vector-based paths
- Connecting open paths
- Repositioning points and segments as you draw
- Inserting and deleting points on the fly
- Converting multiple points with a single click