Project #13: Using the Pen Tool (Illustrator CS5)

If you have read my blog posts before then you probably know that I despise the pen tool! After looking into Illustrator a bit, I realized that I was going to need to get familiar with this instrument… I tried using tutorials to help me understand how the Pen works however, I came to the conclusion that a more hands-on approach was necessary.

I decided to take the following image of myself:

& outline and colour myself in:

It’s definitely not perfect but I am pretty pleased with the result all things considered!  I could not even draw a circle before this project! If you have any good tutorials/tips for Illustrator or the Pen Tool please feel free to share :)

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12 thoughts on “Project #13: Using the Pen Tool (Illustrator CS5)

  1. ambroselerma says:

    Not bad at all. I’m with you on the pen tool. I don’t like it but I know it’s because I haven’t gotten the hang of it just yet. It just takes practice and I’m sure when I learn more about it and more techniques that it will only add tons more to what I can do. Great job! Keep up the posts!

  2. Heather Tiger says:

    That’s such a fun image. “Look, mommy is a cartoon!.” I think you did a great job.

  3. Angelo says:

    love the concept! yes, mommy’s a cartoon! :) i think you’re pretty good with the pen already!

  4. Su says:

    You did a great job! My first attempt with the pen tool in AI was terrible! this is great! At the design firm I worked at we had to use this tool every day and as much as I hated it I eventually got used to it…Now I use it all the time without even thinking, I definitely think it’s just getting used to it!

    I have only one tip for the tool, don’t know if you know this but if you hold down the alt key while having the tool selected it will pull up a little “arrowhead” looking mouse that allows you to adjust the points individually and curve them better. You have to touch the point directly with the arrowhead or it will pop up an error box, so it can be a little annoying. I didn’t know about this for months and it could have saved me a lot of time, If I screwed up a point I would just ctrl-z it but with this function it makes it way easier to adjust a point later on.

    • Omg, that’s exactly what I have been doing when I mess up a point! I will definitely try that trick next time I use Illustrator, I can see how that would be a huge time saver!
      I wish I had to use the Pen tool every day because I am seriously lacking motivation however, I know that it’s the only way I will learn how to use it. Is the Pen tool pretty much what Illustrator is used for?

      • Su says:

        To be honest, i’m not sure! I actually was trained at a design firm and not in college, we were trained specifically for the projects we were working on, anything else that didn’t fall under that category we had to learn ourselves. I don’t work for them anymore and now I illustrate kids books and use illustrator mainly to draw or create shapes, logos or to live trace drawings.

        Have you ever live traced? it’s fantastic! If you haven’t i’ll explain it real quick: I scan a drawing, open up a new document in AI and drag that image from my desktop to my new document. then on the top tool bar, if you click on the image there is a button close to the right side that says “live trace” click it and it turns your entire image into a illustrator editable shape (or vector image)! if you click the live traced image again and then click the button on the top tool bar that says “expand” you can see all the points.
        You can do this to ANY image, photographs, drawings, anything! I use it for all my work and it makes creating shapes soooo much faster.

        http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/11/15/illustrator-s-live-trace-sketch-to-vector/

        Oh yeah, and if you hold down the pen tool button on the toolbar to your left, it will pop up a bunch of different “types” of pen tools, in there you’ll find the different types of “anchor” point tools you can use to edit your points :)

        Sorry I went off on a tangent haha!

  5. Hey, I just tried live tracing! Thanks so much for telling me about it, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to figure it out on my own haha.. I imagine it works really well with black and white pictures or sketches, so much easier than drawing from scratch. Going to try doing some more now!

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