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Updated: Feb 13

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Week 4 Drawing with shapes & Pen Tool
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LESSON #4 : Drawing w/ Shapes - Pen Tool

Quick Group quiz to go over vocabulary use the word bank below to solve.

Our First Illustrations

In Illustrator, the most basic method for drawing is using the shape tools. You can combine ellipses, rectangles, polygons, stars and more to create any object you need.

In this unit, you’ll draw a series of icons in Illustrator with shape tools. The trick is to draw as few shapes as necessary, then repeat them so our drawing is as consistent as possible. These are the tools we’re going to use.

With these tools, you can simply click and drag to create a shape. However, if you use the following keys while dragging, you can either constrain proportions or drag from the center of shapes.

There are a few super-secret keyboard shortcuts you can use while dragging.

Use the Space Bar to reposition your shape. You can also use the Up or Down arrows to increase or decrease the number of sides on a polygon.

Drawing Stroked Paths

If you draw paths with a stroke on them, in addition to changing their stroke weight, you have the option to change the shapes of the corners or the ends of those paths.

You can even control whether the stroke sits on the middle, outside or inside of the paths.

Dynamic Shapes

Illustrator has the ability to customize the radius of a shape’s corners.

Simply drag the Corner Widget to edit the shape’s corner radius. Use the Direct Selection Tool to edit only selected corners. Alternately, you can edit corners more accurately using the Transform Panel.

Repeat Shapes

The ⌘-D keyboard shortcut repeats the last object move or copy you performed. You can also use a similar command to have shapes rotate around the perimeter of a circle.

If you Option-click using the Rotate Tool, you’ll be presented with the rotate dialogue. Enter a number that’s divisible into 360 to get even spacing. Once you’ve copied one shape, you can hit ⌘-D to repeat the shape around the circle.

Direct Select Anchor Points

The Direct Selection Tool selects directly. That means that it only selects what you have clicked on within a single object.

When you use the Direct Selection tool to click on one or more anchor points, only what you clicked on gets selected. If you move, rotate, scale from there, only those anchor points will be affected.

Drawing Modes

If you draw multiple shapes in Illustrator, the first one will be on the bottom and the last one will be on top of the stacking order on the page. That is, the final one covers up the ones you drew before it. This is Illustrator’s default behavior.

This behavior can be changed with the Draw Behind drawing mode. In this mode, each shape drawn is behind the last.

Shift-D cycles you through the three modes. Draw Inside automatically creates a clipping mask.

Align Tools

You don’t need to waste time aligning artwork in Illustrator. There’s an Align Panel devoted to helping you align items automatically.

There are two sections to the Align Panel: Align and Distribute. You can align objects relative to the Artboard or relative to the items you have selected. What’s really magic, is that you can align items to a Key Object.

Grouping & Ungrouping

Grouping items in Illustrator makes items move together. To group items, simply select them, then type ⌘-G. Grouping is hierarchical. That means that you can group items sequentially. They will then ungroup in the same order. You’ll be able to tell items are grouped from the Layers Panel. It will also read Group in the top-left corner of the screen when you select a group.

To ungroup, you can hit ⌘-Shift-G. Remember that if you grouped multiple times, you’ll need to ungroup multiple times.

You can select individual items in a group with the Direct Selection Tool. You can also enter Isolation Mode by double-clicking on grouped items. Isolation Mode is also hierarchical, as shown in the above image.

Compound Paths

A compound path is a combination of two or more shapes. Creating a Compound Path creates a hole in the bottom-most object. The upper shapes actually become holes in the bottom one. When you click on them, they’re actually empty.

To make a Compound Path, you can use Object > Compound Path > Make.

If you double-click on a Compound Path, you’ll enter Isolation Mode. This allows you to edit the individual elements. So Compound Paths behave like grouped items. You can release a Compound Path with Shift-Option-Command-8. When you release a Compound Path, the top shapes take on the fill & stroke of the bottom-most shape.

Pen Tool

Before we start to use the Pen Tool, we want to make sure we have Precise Cursors turned on in Illustrator CC > Preferences… > General. This will make our Pen Tool cursor a crosshair rather than a fountain pen icon.

Use the Pen Tool to accurately trace a provided practice image. Take your time. Follow the instructions. The goal is to create accurate paths with the fewest anchor points possible. The more anchor points you have, the greater the risk you run of having kinked paths.

Make sure you draw these paths with a bright color, so you can see what you’re doing. Also, remove the fill from your path, so it doesn’t cover up your work as you go.

Corner Anchor Points

If you’re drawing straight paths with corner points, all you need to do is click with the Pen Tool. You don’t need to drag.

If you wish to draw straight lines with corner anchors, just click!

Round Anchors

When you want to draw rounded anchors, simply click and drag in the direction you wish to draw.

As you can see, when you click & drag, you can draw an elipse with only two anchor points.

When creating round anchor points, avoid ever clicking. Always click & drag.

Converting Anchors

You can convert anchor points from corner anchors to round and back with the Convert Anchor Point Tool. The tool has a V shaped cursor.

Hold the Option key while using the Pen Tool to convert anchor points.

To convert from a corner anchor to a round one, hold Option key, then drag the corner anchor. It will convert to a round anchor. To convert a round one to a corner anchor, simply click on the anchor point.

Formative Activity #1

Use the provided document and the tools we’ve used today to draw the objects below.

Note: The handle & holes in the grater are Compound Paths.

There’s more than one way to draw some of these objects. As long as you use what we covered in class, you’ll be fine.

You’ll be graded on your proficiency using the shape tools to draw the provided objects.

Trace the provided image using only the Pen Tool in Illustrator. Draw the objects as accurately as possible while using the fewest anchor points possible.

You can see from my examples above how the anchor points and handles are positioned. Do your best.

Resourceful Videos:

Pen Tool:
Drawing With Shapes:

SVG and Icons

Vector Logos


General Stock Photos | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |


Vintage Stock

Patterns & Textures

Other Resources

Games for Designers

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