Illustrator Path Basics
A Bézier (bez-ee-ay) curve is a curved line or path defined by mathematical equations. It was named after Pierre Bézier, a French mathematician and engineer who developed this method of computer drawing in the late 1960s while working for the car manufacturer Renault. Most graphics software includes a pen tool for drawing paths with Bézier curves.
The most basic Bézier curve is made up of two end points and control handles attached to each node. The control handles define the shape of the curve on either side of the common node. Drawing Bézier curves may seem baffling at first; it’s something that requires some study and practice to grasp the geometry involved. But once mastered, Bezier curves are a wonderful way to draw!
Pierre Bézier was born September 1, 1910 and died November 25, 1999 at the age of 89.
A Bezier curve with three nodes. The center node is selected and the control handles are visible.
A Bezier curve with three nodes. The second node (from left) is selected and the control handles are visible.
Creating a basic object:
- Open a new document. Select the Rectangle tool from the tool bar. Create a small square by clicking on the working window and dragging from the top-left to the bottom-right.
Selecting and moving anchor:
- Select the Direct Selection tool. Click on the bottom-right anchor. NOTE: an anchor is selected when it is filled in. Now click and drag it to the bottom-right.
- Select the Add Anchor Point tool. Click anywhere on the active path. NOTE: a path is active when it’s highlighted the layer color, the default for the first layer is blue.
…Again, moving anchors:
- Select the anchor and drag.
- Select the Delete Anchor Point tool. Click on the top-left anchor, of the active path.
- Anchor points are either curved or straight. To convert them, select the Convert Anchor Point tool. After you select the tool, click on an anchor – hold the mouse button down, then drag in a clockwise direction.
Reshaping with the Pencil tool:
- Make sure your path has been selected, then Pencil tool. Click at the edge of the path and draw, ending back somewhere on the edge of the same path.
The reshaped path might not look the way you’d expect. For beginners, this is method of reshaping a path is not recommended, it may take some getting used to.
Choosing a Brush Style:
- Select the Paintbrush tool from the tool bar. Draw a freeform design, then select a brush style from the brushes palette.
Removing a Paint Brush:
- Select the path with the Selection tool. Then, from the flyout of Brushes palette choose ‘Remove Brush Stroke’.
The diagrams to follow are shown at a high zoom rate (approx. 400%)
To see the same effects, please zoom in prior to working on the tutorials.
- Select the Pen tool and click in three areas to create an arrow shape. With the object still active, change the stroke options to correspond with diagrams a, b, and c as shown.
- Creating a dashed line:
- Select the Pen tool and click in two areas to create a line shape. With the object still active, change the stroke options to correspond with diagram #12 as shown.
NOTE: You will have to zoom in to see the dashed line!
Working with Anchor Handles
Open a new document. Select the circle tool. Create an oval.
Select the Direct Selection tool. Click on the top/center anchor.
Drag, or nudge, this anchor down to the center of the circle (approx.)
Select the Convert Direction Point tool. With the top/center anchor still selected, grab the right handle and drag it to the top/right.
Select the Direct Selection tool and click the top/center anchor to access the left handle. Grab the left handle and drag it to the top/left.
With the Direct Selection tool, click the bottom/center anchor. Drag to down, or nudge, to form the bottom of the heart.
Select the Convert Direction Point tool. With the bottom/center anchor still selected click the right handle and drag to the top/right.
With the Direct Selection tool click the bottom/center anchor. Select the left anchor and drag to the top/left.
Choose a fill color.