adobe illustrator pen tool whale tutorial

Adobe Illustrator Tutorial using Pen Tool

In Adobe Illustrator, for Beginners, Pen Tool Tutorials, Step by Step Adobe Illustrator Tutorials by Jason Secrest

PEN TOOL TUTORIAL FOR BEGINNERS

In this Beginner Adobe Illustrator Tutorial, we will be going through a basic process on how to apply the pen tool in a 2-step process. We will go step by step through a complete workflow using the pen tool, brushes, and coloring. We will be doing some basic coloring with the Live Paint Bucket Tool which is my favorite to teach beginners who are familiar with the same tool in Adobe Photoshop. 

adobe illustrator pen tool whale

PEN TOOL

We are going through some different options for the pen tool. The few things to remember is to focus on getting down the anchors first. We have a lot of our tutorials that focus just on straight lines and placing anchors. The easy parts of the line are the start and end points which means you just have to look for changes in direction in the middle. Click and drag your mouse in the direction you want to go (slowly).

BEGINNER TUTORIAL

There are easy ways of approaching the pen tool. Start with straight lines and only look for changes in direction. Using your white arrow(A) select the point that look like they are curved and click on the smooth curves button. If your pen tool keeps adding a new anchor rather than a new line then make sure the line isn’t still selected. You will notice a + as you hover over the line if it thinks you want to add an anchor. Anchor Tool(Shift C) will reset and manually drag out each curve.

LINE VARIATION

The line variation be simplified by looking at the ends of each of your lines. If it is floating out in space then it signals a tapered end. If the end point bumps up against another line or shape, this is a good signal that it should be wide. Use the cartoon brushes in areas to support the character and light source.

Adobe Illustrator Top Tips

Zoom In

All of our initial preferences are designed to gain more control over what you are clicking on. The more you can zoom in and see your anchors and handles the better.

Smart Guides

Under VIEW make sure you have your smart guides turned on. Under your PREFERENCES (smart guides) you should definitely have your anchor/ path labels selected.

Anchor and Handle Size

In your (general) PREFERENCES there is a setting which can enlarge your anchor points and handles to make them easier for you to see before clicking.

Direct Selection Tool

The white arrow can grab and adjust the anchors, handles, and paths. All of the other settings are designed to let you know what you are selecting before you click and drag.

adobe illustrator settings for beginners
adobe illustrator preferences for beginners

Adding on Line Variation using Cartoon Brushes

You will have more control over the placement and width of each of your lines using the Cartoon Brushes (Download + Install). The process will be a combination of using the Brushes to get down the initial thickness and stroke width. The second step will be modifying the placement of the variation using so we can edit it later. This 2-Step Process allows for more control over your Line Variation compared to using your Tablet with Pressure.

illustrator cartoon brushes
STEP #1: DOWNLOAD BRUSHES. Many of you are jumping over from YouTube looking to download our Cartoon and Illustrator Brush Libraries. You can download all our 200 Adobe Illustrator Brushes to follow along with the Tutorials or use them with Your Own Vector Artwork. Our (Updated) 200 Adobe Illustrator Brushes are specifically designed for Illustrators and Cartoonists to speed up their workflows.
STEP #2: EXTRACT FOLDERS + SAVE BRUSHES. The first step is to download the Brushes Folders. They will come to you as a Zipped Folder. You can open them directly through your Brushes Panel or Save them for fast access in your "User Defined" by Saving Brush Library. Once you have Downloaded and Extracted the Brushes Folder, the Brush Libraries are Ready to Use in Adobe Illustrator.
STEP #3: FOLLOW ALONG. If you are following along on YouTube, I recommend starting with our 100 Adobe Illustrator Beginner Tutorials Playlists. This playlist will focus on Building Tools, Applying Brushes, Editing Options, and Basic Coloring Techniques. *I have included our Resources (as a free bonus) to follow along with the 100 Tutorials Playlist on YouTube and 50 Step by Steps on the Website.

ILLUSTRATOR BRUSHES

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200 ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR BRUSHES. Our 200 Adobe Illustrator Brushes are specifically designed for Illustrators and Cartoonists to speed up their workflow. I have recently added more brushes and updated the Brush Libraries to allow for Pressure Sensitivity to use with your Tablet (tablet not required). Brushes can be used with Shapes, Pen Tool, Pencil Tool, and PaintBrush. Adobe Illustrator Brush Libraries include our 70 Cartoon, 100 Comic Strip, and 50 Vintage Mascot Brushes

DOWNLOAD BRUSHES
70 Adobe Illustrator Cartoon Brushes specifically designed for Cartoonists and Illustrators who are looking to speed up their workflows. Use Cartoon Illustrator Brushes with the Pen, Pencil or Paint Brush Tools to Apply different Line Variation to your Vector Artwork. Includes 70+ Cartoon Brushes (libraries include the Updated Cartoon, Cartoon 2, and Original Cartoon Brush Libraries).
DOWNLOAD BRUSHES
100 Hand Painted + Comic Strip Brushes to get a lived in feel back into your Vector Art. Comic Strips and Hand Painted are painted based on some of my favorite artists and cartoonists. These brushes are designed to look ready for the Sunday Paper. Includes 100+ Brushes (libraries include the Updated Comic Strip, Hand-Painted, Paintbrush, and Fine Liner Brush Libraries).
DOWNLOAD BRUSHES
50 Jittery Hand, Caffeinated Cartoonist + Rough Ink Brushes to Mimic Paper Bleed and Caffeine. Designed to be a little less stiff with your vector art. Use these Brush Libraries to get more of a distressed look or ink bleed back in your own Vector Artwork with heavy ink and a little more wobble. Includes 50+ Brushes (libraries include the updated Caffeinated Cartoonist, Rough Ink, and Jittery Hand Brush Libraries).
ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR

BRUSHES + RESOURCES

OR DOWNLOAD RESOURCE BUNDLE

Color Swatches + Live Paint

Open the Swatch Window. On the bottom left-hand corner, you will see the Open Swatch Libraries icon. At the bottom of the drop-down menu, you will see Open Other Library. Go to our resource folder in the Color Palettes folder to Open ASE files. The ASE files have been created to make your life easier while going through the Challenge Series. Once you open the Library- click on the folder icon next to the swatches to move them from the library to the swatches. To use Live Paint and the Live Paint Bucket Tool, Select All. Go under Object - Live Paint - Make. You can now use the Live Paint Bucket Tool to dump color just like the Paint Bucket Tool in Adobe Photoshop.

Coloring with Fills

One of the easiest and fastest ways of filling in your color is through using Fills. The main thing to look for is enclosed shaped. We have done nothing but build with Shapes so coloring is super easy. Keep this in mind as you are going through the other tutorials where we don't have any shapes.

Gradient Panel

Select each color using the Magic Wand Tool (Adjust to Tolerance 5) each color. Add on a Radial Gradient to the frosting layers (3). Use the lightest and Darkest Color Swatch from the color set of 3. Adjust the slider to control where the values hit. Troubleshooting: Double check your fill is in front and not your stroke.

Gradient Tool

You can use the Gradient Tool to gain some control over where the gradient hits on your shapes. The tool will control the same features that are in the panel. I use the tool when I don't want to guess and check angle degrees or aspect ratio percentages.

How to Color in Adobe Illustrator

One of the easiest and fastest ways of filling in your color is through Live Paint. Live Paint Bucket is a part of the Shape Builder Tools which builds the shapes in the exact shape you need it. Select All. Go up to Object - Live Paint - Make. If you have a grayed out Make it simply means you didn't have anything selected. I do recommend Deselecting by clicking on your artboard before clicking on a Color Swatch. *Remember Everything is still Selected so it will Color the Full Selection if you click on a Color Swatch with everything selected. Click on the Live Paint Bucket (K) and Click to Dump Color. It will feel like the Paint Bucket in Adobe Photoshop. 

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