Thus far, we have a field with a pond; now, let's create a sailboat to go in the pond. The first tool we will be using to create our sailboat is the Pen tool. Although the Pen tool is a difficult tool to master, there is a lot of power in the Pen tool to create anything we want to create.
Learning the Pen Tool
Working with the Pen tool is a bit different than working with the shape tools. When drawing with the shape tools, Illustrator creates all of the points and line segments needed to create the shape—all we really do is specify where and how large that shape is. The Pen tool, in contrast, enables us to add one point at a time, determining the curvature (or lack thereof) of each line segment as we go.
The Pen tool's sheer power makes it a bit intimidating at first, but with a little practice, mastery is not especially difficult—and it's well worth the effort. To ease the transition, we'll practice with a handful of a simple lines and work our way up creating curved lines.
We'll start by opening a file that we can use for practice.
Step1. To begin opening the file, on the Menu bar,
Click File, Click Open...
Step2. Verify that the location is in the Illustrator Basics folder of the epclass folder.
Step3. To open the desired file,
Step4. To close the dialog box, if necessary,
Drawing Straight Lines
Drawing straight lines with the Pen tool is very easy, though perhaps slightly different than one might expect. Instead of clicking and dragging the tool, as we did with the shape tools, we'll click the artboard to create individual points. Each time we click to add a point (after the first one), Illustrator connects the new point to the previous point with a line segment.
The following video demonstrates how to draw straight lines, as well as how to draw curved lines, which will be covered in the following section, Exploring and Drawing Curved Lines.
Let's practice this with the help of the template we just opened.
Step1. To zoom in on the correct part of the template, in the Tools panel,
Click, Press & Drag a rectangle around ‘Straight Line'
NOTE: Sometimes Illustrator will immediately zoom in to an area when we're attempting to draw a rectangle around an object we want to zoom in on - this is referred to as animated zoom, or sometimes as scrubby zoom. This can be turned off in the following way: in the menu bar, Click Edit, Point to Preferences, Click GPU Performance, and uncheck the Animated Zoom dialog box in the Preferences dialog box that appears.
Step2. To activate the Pen tool, in the Tools panel,
Step3. To draw the straight line,
Click point ‘A', Click point ‘B'
Step4. To end the path, in the Tools panel,
Step5. To see the entire page in the window, in the Tools panel,
Exploring and Drawing Curved Lines
Using Illustrator and other vector drawing programs, we can create shapes comprised of points and curves called Bezier curves, named after the inventor. Each curve consists of two endpoints and two equations. Using the Bezier formula, every curve segment has a defined arc and is connected to other segments by anchor points.
Let's see how a curved line works, then try making one on our own.
Step1. To view the curved line in the template, in the Tools panel,
Click, Press & Drag a rectangle around ‘Curved Line'
Step2. To activate the Direct Selection tool, in the Tools panel,
Step3. To select a part of the curved line,
Click a part of the curved line
Step4. To change the position of an anchor point,
Press & Drag the middle anchor point to the left a short distance
Step5. To change the size of the curve,
Press & Drag the bottom center curve handle downward a short distance
Step6. To change the direction of the curve,
Press & Drag the same curve handle upwards and to the right until the point becomes higher than its complementary direction point
Drawing a Curved Line
Drawing curved lines takes practice, but as you gain experience working with the Pen tool to make curved lines, you'll be able to better anticipate how the Pen tool will create curved lines. Let's switch back to the Pen tool and get some practice with making curved lines.
Step1. Scroll to an empty area in the artboard, if necessary.
Step2. To activate the Pen tool, in the Tools panel,
Step3. To create the first point of a curved line,
Press & Drag in any direction
Step4. To add the next point to the curved line,
Press & Drag in any direction
Step5. Repeat step 4 to add more points to the curved line.
Step6. To switch to the Selection tool, on the keyboard, press:
Step7. Close the document without saving.
Creating an Object with the Pen Tool
Now that we have some practice with the Pen tool, we will be able to add a sailboat to our canvas. We will begin by drawing the curve that will be the hull. As we create our boat, using the grid will help us as we draw.
Let's zoom in a little bit before we start drawing, so we can see our grid better.
Step1. To zoom in on the artboard, in the Tools panel,
Click, Press & Drag a rectangle around a blank part of our artboard
Step2. To set the foreground and background to the default colors, on the keyboard, press:
Step3. To set the fill to None, in the Tools panel,
Click the Fill swatch, Click
Step4. To activate the Pen tool, in the Tools panel,
Step5. To create the first point on the artboard,
Press & Drag downward at the intersection of two major gridlines, until the curve handle meets the next intersection of two major grid lines
Step6. To position our cursor properly,
Point to the intersection of two major grid lines two inches to the right of the first point until the curve handle meets the next intersection of two major grid lines
NOTE: This will be 8 smaller grid squares away from our first point.
Step7. To complete the boat's hull,
Press & Drag up at the intersection of the two major grid lines
Step8. To complete the current line, in the Tools panel, press and hold:
Control key, Click the artboard
NOTE for MacOS Users: To complete the current line, press and hold Command key then Click the artboard.
Step9. To select the curved line,
Click, Click the curved line
Step10. To make the Fill color active, if necessary,
Step11. To add a color to our boat,
Click a color from the Swatches panel
Step12. Repeat steps 10 and 11 with the Stroke swatch to change the color of the stroke, if desired.
Working with More Shapes
We now have the bottom of our boat drawn — however, we still need to add a mast and a sail. We will use the Line Segment tool to make the mast, and then use a new shape tool to make the sail. The Line Segment tool allows us to draw simple straight lines by pressing and dragging, much like the Shape tools.
Let's draw the mast now.
Step1. To activate the Line Segment tool, from the Tools panel,
Step2. To create a line,
Press & Drag a vertical line 1.5 to 2 inches long
Step3. To open the Stroke panel, in the Panel dock,
Step4. To increase the weight of the line, in the Weight field,
Press & Drag the value, type: 5 Enter
Step5. Activate the Selection tool, and select the Stroke swatch, if necessary.
Step6. To change the color of the line,
select a color in the swatches panel
Creating the Sail
We are ready to create the sail. We'll be doing this with a new shape tool — the Polygon tool. The Polygon tool can be used to create a shape with any number of sides, and we'll use it to create a triangle.
Step1. To activate the Polygon tool, in the Tools panel,
Press & Hold, Click
Step2. To draw the triangle,
Press & Drag to start creating the shape,
press Down Arrow key three times
Step3. To activate the Selection tool, from the Tools panel,
Step4. To adjust the size of the triangle,
Press & Drag a corner of the triangle until it is the desired size
NOTE: To maintain the proportions of the triangle, hold the Shift key down while dragging the corner.
Step5. Verify that the shape is still selected.
Step6. Activate the Fill swatch.
Step7. To add a color, in the Swatches panel,
Click a color of your choice
Step8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with the Stroke swatch instead of the Fill swatch.
Step9. Change the stroke weight as desired using the Stroke panel.
Step10. To select the triangle, with the Selection tool active,
Click on the shape
Step11. To prepare to rotate the triangle,
Point to a corner until the cursor changes to
Step12. To rotate the triangle,
Press & Drag to rotate the triangle until one side is parallel to the mast
Step13. To move the sail in place, with the Selection tool,
Press & Drag the triangle until one side is touching the mast
Step14. To activate the Direct Selection tool,
Step15. To select the point we want to change,
Click the point furthest from the mast
Step16. To adjust the sail's shape,
Press & Drag the point downward, using the grid to line it up with the bottom-most point of the triangle
One technique we can use to keep objects together without uniting them as we did previously is grouping. When we group shapes or pieces of artwork, they become joined items. Illustrator will move and resize them as one object. If we need to go back and edit just one shape in a group, we can do that without ungrouping the objects. Whenever we combine several objects that should remain in the same position relative to each other, it is best practice to group them.
In order to group objects, we must select all of them first.
Step1. To activate the Selection tool, in the Tools panel,
Step2. To select all of the objects, press and hold:
Shift key, Click the mast, boat, and sail shapes
Step3. To group the objects that make up our boat, from the Menu bar,
Click Object, Click Group
NOTE: The keyboard shortcut Control key+G can be also be used to group shapes.
Step4. To see our entire artboard, in the Tools panel,
Step5. To move the boat onto the pond,
Click, Press & Drag the boat onto the pond
Step6. Save the file.