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How to Use the Pen Tool in Adobe Illustrator
  • By Design Bundles
  • 02 Jan 2017
  • 9 Mins
  • Illustrator Tutorials

How to Use the Pen Tool in Adobe Illustrator

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the Adobe Illustrator Pen Tool. The Pen Tool is the most versatile drawing tool within Illustrator for vector illustrations. It allows you to create unique shapes by adding curves and corners. When using the Pen Tool, the shapes are built up by paths and anchor points. Throughout the tutorial, you will learn what these terms mean and how to use them.

Step 1 - Draw a Shape with the Pen Tool

We will be using the Pen Tool to draw out our shape. Select the Pen Tool (P) from your left toolbar.

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Start by clicking anywhere within your artboard to place the first point. You will then notice that a blue line will follow your cursor as you move it. Click again anywhere within your artboard to place the second point. Now you have a solid line with two blue points at each end.

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The solid line is your path and the points at each end are your anchor points. These anchor points can also be referred to as nodes. Press enter on your keyboard whenever you want to complete a path.

To restart a path, ensure your Pen Tool is selected, then select an open path (an anchor point that only has one line going to it).

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Then click to create your next anchor point.

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You can draw a line that snaps to the X and Y axis. You can also create a diagonal line by holding down Shift + clicking to create your next anchor point.

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Step 2 - Add a Curve to Your Shape

We can also add a curve to our shape. Click where you would like your next anchor point to be. Then click + drag your cursor. You will notice two handles appear from your new anchor point. As you drag your cursor around, this will change the type of curve you create.

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Press enter to deselect from your shape. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) from your left toolbar. Now, move the handles around and continue to manipulate the curve.

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Tip: You can adjust an anchor point of a curve while you are still moving it. Click + drag to create your new curve, then press Spacebar on your keyboard.

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The end point of your new line will then move with your cursor. Release your spacebar to reposition the end point.

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Step 3 - Close the Path

Time to close the path and complete your shape. With your pen tool and open anchor points selected, click on the other open anchor point. This will complete your shape.

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Step 4 - Add Anchor Points to Your Shape

You can easily add more anchor points to your shape. With your Pen Tool selected, hover over one of the paths or lines between your points. You will notice a small plus (+) symbol appear next to your cursor, click to add this anchor point.

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Creating this anchor point will allow you to manipulate that section of the design. Select the Direct Selection Tool from your left toolbar. You can now click and drag that point to wherever you want to change your shape.

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Step 5 - Delete Anchor Points From Your Shape

With your Pen Tool selected, hover over any of your nodes. You will notice a minus symbol (-) appear next to your cursor. Click the node to remove it from your shape.

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Your shape will then snap back to the next anchor point within your shape, to keep it as a solid path.

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Step 6 - Add a Curve to Your Shape

You can also create a curve on an existing path. Select and hold your Pen Tool to bring up the tools option. Then select the Anchor Point Tool.

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Now click and drag on any of your paths. As you drag you will be able to determine the type of curve you want to create.

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Step 7 - Recolor your Shape

Now that you have a solid shape, you can change the stroke and fill colors. Do this by double-clicking the stroke and fill panel on your left toolbar. You can also change the color with a preloaded color swatch.

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Now you know all the tips and tricks on how to use the Pen Tool! You can create your own unique shapes, line art illustrations, or even to trace over images to create a vector version.

As you get to know the Pen Tool, you can start to create more complex illustrations. In some cases, you may need to simplify the nodes you have within your illustrations.


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