The Illustrator Pen Tool
The debut of Adobe Illustrator in 1987 introduced the world to what has since become an icon of graphic design: the Pen tool.
The Pen tool was first shown widely to users in a video tutorial by Adobe cofounder John Warnock in 1987. Some users found the Pen tool difficult to master at first.
For designers used to analog tools, the new digital Pen tool in Illustrator was confounding, as it was not used to draw and sketch freely, but was used to plot and adjust “anchor points.” But for other designers who struggled to master the technical skills and techniques needed to control a traditional artist’s pen, the Pen tool in Illustrator was their new best friend, allowing them to create, edit and perfect their designs endlessly.
“The advantage of the Pen interface is it gave you absolute control over the curve. You didn’t draw a whole bunch of points and then hope the curve would look good. You could manipulate the curve to get the finest detail. It took some getting used to, but Illustrator is the tool of choice for graphic artists.”
In many ways, the Pen tool is the most important tool in Illustrator. It is used to create the anchor points that form the basis for designs created in Illustrator, and to connect lines to those points that will create the curves and shapes that are the building blocks of Illustrator.
Like any artistic tool, the Pen tool takes some time to learn. But also like other artistic tools, it encourages creativity. The Pen tool is flexible and inspiring in its broad functionality.