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Vector Drawing with Illustrator: Easier Than You Think

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You've probably been creating bitmap art for years, or even decades. David Karlins thinks it's about time you investigated the possibilities of creating vector drawings. The concepts and terminology are a bit less like working with paint on canvas - but the technology is a lot more powerful.

Controlling Curves with Control Points

To define the curve associated with an anchor point, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Convert Anchor Point tool on the Pen tool flyout.
  2. Click the desired anchor with the Convert Anchor Point tool.
  3. Drag the anchor in the direction that you want the curve to go. Notice that the anchor itself doesn’t move. Instead, control points appear.
  4. Click-and-drag a control point away from the anchor to create a curve. Moving control points changes the direction of the anchor curve (see Figure 4). Experiment with rotating the control point to control the curve.
  5. Stretching out the control point handles (the lines that connect the control point to the anchor) increases the intensity of curvature.
Figure 4

Figure 4 Changing the properties of a curve by manipulating control points on an anchor.

Now that you know how to manipulate anchor control points with the Convert Anchor Point tool, you can combine the process of defining an anchor and manipulating control points. Click to define an anchor with the Pen tool, and then drag to define the control points (see Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 5 Combining the two steps: Placing an anchor and defining the curve with the Pen tool.

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