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  Shortcuts And Pointers For The Pen

Pen Tips

Pen Tip No. 1

In Adobe® Illustrator®, always click the Direct Selection tool before clicking and drawing with the Pen Tool.

First click the Direct Selection Tool

Then click the Pen Tool

tool1ai.gif tool2ai.gif

The reason for this is to make sure that when the Ctrl key (Windows®) is pressed (or Command key for Macintosh®), that the next selected tool is the Direct Selection Tool instead of a different, unintended selection tool. While actively making or modifying a path using the pen, pressing Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Macintosh) will activate the last selection tool used. It is more likely that you will make adjustments to anchor points and control handles while you are drawing than it is that you will move the entire path.

Pen Tip No. 2

Tear off the pen tools in Adobe Illustrator and let it float as its own palette on the workspace.


To do this simply grab the Pen Tool button on the Tool Palette and drag it away from it. Keep it near your drawing.

Pen Tip No. 3

You can make a simulated connector point in Adobe Illustrator using the following technique:

In Illustrator 8 First, click

View > Snap To Point

This provides a means to snap points and and control handles on top of other points. This step is not necessary in Illustrator 7 because "Snap To Point" is the default.

1. Drag the first point connect1.gif

2. Drag a second point connect2.gif

3. Click to place a third point connect3.gif

4. Grab the handle of the second point and drag it over the third point. connect4.gif

5. When the solid arrowhead cursor changes into a hollow one, the handle is on top of the point. Release the mouse button. connect5.gif

6. At this time you can now change the direction of the first curve going into the second point. No matter how you adjust it, there will always be a smooth transition into the straight line segment. connect6.gif

7. To reshape the curve, drag the control handle of the first point. connect7.gif

8. When the desired shape is attained, release the mouse button. connect8.gif

The theory behind this tip is by laying the control handle on top of the third point (the far point in the straight line segment), it is assured that the curve going into the second point will be at a tangent to the straight segment. In Adobe Photoshop®, although there is no provision for snapping a handle over a point, you could drag a handle over a point and come close to it.

Pen Tip No. 4

Although Deneba Canvas™ doesn't have a connector point, it does have an arc tool which places both ends of an open arc so the tangents are at right angles. This makes it easy to create the same effect as a connector point.

To create this effect, first drag out an arc.


Next double-click the arc to place it in edit mode.

Select the point you wish to connect the tangent straight section. Either drag a marquee around it or click it.


This is what the point looks like when it is selected.


Next select the Curve tool. Press Ctrl-Shift (Windows) or Command-Shift (Mac) and click to place the endpoint of the straight section. The tangent line of the point that connects the straight segment to the curved segment can be pulled using Shift-Drag to constrain its movement.


Pen Tip No. 5

Sometimes you may want a point with only one control handle. In Deneba Canvas™ 5 and 6, Macromedia® FreeHand® 8 and CorelDRAW® 8 there are provisions for making one-handled anchor points. In Adobe Illustrator, however,  you have to drag the handle over its anchor point to get rid of it:

1. The center point has two handles. Let's get rid of one of them. onehand1.gif

2. Drag a handle back into the point. onehand2.gif

3. When the handle is over the point, the cursor changes from a solid arrowhead to a hollow one. Release the mouse button. onehand3.gif

4. Now you have a one-handled anchor point. onehand4.gif

Pen Tip No. 6

Many times you will want to close an open path (Photoshop users click here for complete instructions). Sometimes it happens that you simply get lost while drawing a path and you find yourself no longer adding points to the path. To restart a path (append to a path) in Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia FreeHand or CorelDRAW, the technique is basically the same.

1. Position the pen (for CorelDRAW users the Bezier Tool or the Freehand Tool) over an end point in the path you want to restart. When you first click the tool and before positioning the cursor over the end point in the path, the cursor will appear as follows:

cursai1.gif Adobe Illustrator 7 / 8

curspsd1.gif Adobe Photoshop 5

cursfh81.gif Macromedia FreeHand 8

curscdr1.gif CorelDRAW 8 - Freehand Tool

curscdr3.gif CorelDRAW 8 - Bezier Tool

2. Except for CorelDRAW while using the Bezier Tool, when you are over the point, the cursor will change to let you know that the next click will append to the path:

cursai3.gif Adobe Illustrator 7 / 8

curspsd3.gif Adobe Photoshop 5

cursfh83.gif Macromedia FreeHand 8

curscdr2.gif CorelDRAW 8 - Freehand Tool

3. That is your cue that the next click will append to the path. Click once to restart adding line segments to the path.

4. When you are ready to close the path simply position the cursor over the other end point of the path. When the cursor is over the point it will change to let you know that the next click will close the path:

cursai4.gif Adobe Illustrator 7 / 8

curspsd4.gif Adobe Photoshop 5

cursfh84.gif Macromedia FreeHand 8

curscdr2.gif CorelDRAW 8 - Freehand Tool

curscdr4.gif CorelDRAW 8 - Bezier Tool

5. Click once to close the path.

Deneba Canvas™

With Deneba Canvas, restarting or closing an open path is very straightforward. To restart (append to) an open path, simply put the path into edit mode (double-click using the Selection tool), then select the endpoint you wish to resume adding segments to, (click to select it) then select the Curve tool and resume with the next point. When you want to close the path, when the cursor changes to a small crosshair, (below). This means the pointer is directly over an anchor point. The next click (or drag) closes the path:


To close an open path without adding points, put the path into edit mode, then click one of the endpoints with the Curve tool. A new segment will be added joining the endpoints.

Pen Tip No. 7

Here's an undocumented tip for Deneba Canvas. Sometimes you may want to change the angle of a tangent line without changing its length. To do this, select an anchor point and position the mouse pointer just to the right or left until the cursor changes into a hollow arrowhead:


When it does, click and drag the tangent line to change its angle...

The angle of the handle will change, but not its length.


Click Here To Continue...


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