Gateway to Illustrator – Pen Tool


When I first started learning Adobe Illustrator pen tool was my nemesis. I spent so many hours agonizing over how to use it properly. I even questioned my commitment to graphic design at that point. But I am so glad I stuck with it because pen tool is the most important tool in Illustrator. Once you master pen tool it opens up so many creative possibilities. There is nothing in the world that works quite like it.

Like any artistic tool, the Pen tool takes some time to learn. But also like other artistic tools, it encourages creativity. 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. Once you have mastered this you can draw or trace anything you desire.

The Pen tool comes with all kinds of options for creating, removing and tweaking bezier points and curves.

Let’s look at the different variations and what they do:

Pen Tool – The Pen tool Swiss army knife. All the following options are built right into the Pen tool and can be accessed using keyboard shortcuts.

Add Anchor Point Tool – This variation of the Pen tool adds additional points anywhere on a path.

Delete Anchor Point Tool – This variation of the Pen tool removes existing points from a path.

Convert Anchor Point Tool – This variation of the Pen tool creates bezier handles on a point to form a curve.

There’s also two other tools that are used alongside the Pen tool:

Path Selection Tool – Used to select a whole path, including all points and curves.

Direct Selection Tool – Used to select individual points or bezier handles.

What is the best way to learn pen tool? Just use it – over and over and over. That is the only way to really start to feel comfortable with it and get used to the somewhat bizarre way it functions. There are also lots of tutorials online to help you along the way and even a fun pen tool game called The Bézier Game (it is amazing). Learning pen tool will suck at times, but it is well worth the effort.

Here are a couple good tutorials to check out:

Adobe Illustrator Basics: Pen Tool Tutorial

Adobe Illustrator – Pen Tool Basics

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