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Adobe Illustrator: New Ways to Draw

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Recent Adobe Illustrator updates have focused on core tools, resulting in a lot of love for the drawing tools. Web developer Brian Wood, author of Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 Classroom in a Book, explores the latest drawing features, including updates to the Pen and Pencil tools, the new Curvature tool, and improvements in how users select and edit paths.
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When I used to think of drawing in Adobe Illustrator, all I could envision was the Pen tool—the mainstay of vector creation. But as Illustrator has evolved over the past few versions, new and improved ways of drawing have been added. No longer will you be judged for your Illustrator prowess based on how well you've mastered the Pen tool alone; now a host of other tools and methods are available.

This article examines some of Illustrator's latest drawing features. We'll look at the evolution of the Pen tool and explore the new Curvature tool. The Pencil tool also has some new tricks up its sleeve, and we'll see it work its magic.

Let's jump into each of these improvements.

Evolution of the Pen Tool

The Pen tool remained relatively untouched for version after version of Illustrator, but that situation changed recently. The tool has several new features and improvements that make it easier to use for drawing and editing.

The first major improvement (if you see it that way) is the addition of “rubber banding,” or the path preview. As you click with the Pen tool to add points to a path, a preview shows how the preceding path would look if you simply click (see Figure 1). This feature can be a great way to learn how to draw effectively with the Pen tool.

Figure 1

Figure 1 Pen Tool rubber banding (path preview).

If you're an old hand at Illustrator , like me, you may prefer to turn off this feature. Choose Illustrator > Preferences (Mac OS) or Edit > Preferences (Windows) and select the Selection & Anchor Display category in the Preferences dialog box. Now you can deselect the Enable Rubber Band for Pen and Curvature tool option (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2 Pen tool preferences.

The next addition to the Pen tool is how it edits paths. If you are clicking along, drawing a path with the Pen tool, hold down the Option (Mac OS) or Alt (Windows) key and position the pointer over the path between two anchor points. The pointer's appearance will change (see Figure 3), and you can drag the path to reshape it.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Edit a path while drawing with the Pen tool.

To learn more options for the Pen tool, check out Lesson 5, “Creating an Illustration with the Drawing Tools,” in my book Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 Classroom in a Book.

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