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A Scrutinizing Eye

Throughout the vector build process, you'll need to pay close attention to your anchor points and paths to ensure you're creating quality. That said, no one is perfect; you'll make mistakes as you create your vector art, so it's important to train yourself to spot potential problems with your anchor points.

It may initially seem like I'm asking you to micro-manage your vector art, and in part that is true. But over time it will become second nature, to the point that you won't even consciously think about which anchor points to place or handles to pull. You will, however, notice the steady improvement of the vector shapes that you'll create because of your due diligence.

The Vector No-Fly List

Be on the look-out for the following common vector building mistakes:

  1. Incorrect Anchor Point: If you're creating a Bézier curve that bends smoothly from one side of an anchor point to the opposite side as shown in Figure 4.5, you need to always use a smooth anchor point rather than a corner anchor point. If a curve looks pointed, then an incorrect anchor point is being used in the Bézier curve.
    Figures 4.5

    Figure 4.5 The correct use of a smooth anchor point shown on top; an incorrect corner anchor point, which causes a pointed look, is shown below.

    To convert a corner anchor point to a smooth anchor point (and vice-versa), just select the problem point and click the "Convert selected anchor points to smooth" button in the Control panel shown in Figure 4.5. The opposite option will appear if the point is already smooth. (Unfortunately, there is no keyboard command for this, nor is it recordable via actions.)
  2. Flat Curves: If you pull out your anchor point handles too far on a Bézier curve that bends smoothly from one side of an anchor point to the opposite side, as shown in Figure 4.6, the curve will lose its roundness and begin to look flat. It's a telltale sign of overextended handles.
    Figures 4.6

    Figure 4.6 Properly extended anchor point handles shown on top; a curve with overextended anchor point handles, which cause a flat appearance, is shown below.

  3. Parallels: When you create shapes that contain corresponding Bézier curves that bend smoothly from one side of an anchor point to the opposite side, as shown in Figure 4.7, you want to make sure the extended handles at the apex of the path are parallel with one another. If the end vector shape doesn't have a graceful flow, it's a good bet some of the handles aren't parallel.
    Figures 4.7

    Figure 4.7 Parallel handles shown on top; non-parallel handles, which cause an uneven result, are shown below.

  4. Overextended Handles: This is the result of trying to span the distance between two anchor points using one anchor point handle instead of using both. Much like the flat curve problem, it will result in a shape that is flat, awkward, and clunky. But it also can cause mitering problems on severe angles if you decide to add a heavier stroke to your art later (Figure 4.8).
    Figures 4.8

    Figure 4.8 Both handles properly pulled out to form each Bézier curve is shown on top; the use of one overextended handle, which causes flatness, a clunky shape, and mitering problems, is shown below.

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