Posts tagged "paths"

August 29, 2013

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.

Adobe Illustrator CC pen tools

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.”
—John Warnock


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.


Adobe Illustrator Pen tool icons

Want to polish your Illustrator Pen tool skills? Check out the tutorials below.

pen-tool-vector-tuts pen-tool-veerle-blog pen-tool-adobetv

Go to full article ›
June 24, 2011


Sometimes when we look at artwork, paths appear to be continuous, but when we modify the path thickness, we can see sharp edges where the path ends are near one another. It’s then that we realize that the path is not continuous, but is composed of multiple segments, or open paths.  In these situations, it can make perfect sense to connect, or join the open ends.

Adobe Illustrator CS5 delivers new capabilities for joining paths that simplifies the process and adds new options for the joins.

This post explores all the available ways to join paths in Illustrator CS5.


1) Pen Tool: If you want full control over how anchor points of the same path or different paths are to be joined, this is the way to go. But if the anchor points you’re trying to join are “overlapping,” don’t use the Pen tool, instead, choose another method outlined below. Joining paths with the Pen tool did not change in Illustrator CS5.

First, select the Pen tool, then click on the first endpoint to be joined. Now click on the other endpoint to be joined. When you precisely position the Pen tool over the other endpoint, a small merge symbol appears next to the pointer. If you click and drag after these clicks, you’ll get the control handles that help you adjust the path’s curve. If these endpoints are on separate paths, the final path will have the appearance of the last path clicked with the Pen tool.

2) Object>Path>Join (Cmd+J on Mac, or Ctrl+J on Win): Illustrator CS5 adds new functionality to this method, and makes joining two distantly-placed anchor points really easy. In fact, I now use this method for joining paths more often than the Pen tool.

Cmd/Ctrl+J to join end points

The rule for using this join command is simple:

Select the objects to be joined (yes, objects, not the anchor points), then choose Object>Path>Join (Cmd /Ctrl + J). The nearest anchor points will be connected.

And if you want to join “preferred” anchor points? Simple. Just select the desired anchor points and press Cmd or Ctrl + J.

3) Join overlapping anchor points (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Opt+J): There is no change in this functionality for Illustrator CS5 except for the new keyboard shortcut. Using this shortcut will open a dialog to choose either a Corner or Smooth option. A Smooth join is possible only when the end-points are smooth (i.e. both have handles).

And finally, what does it take to close an open path? Well, try it for yourself.


Go to full article ›
Back to top