In this step by step Adobe Illustrator Pen Tool tutorial we will be going through a basic process on how to apply the pen tool and some different options if you are struggling. We go through a complete workflow using pen tool, width profiles, and the width tool. We will be doing some basic coloring with effects. We will add on flat color using Live Paint Bucket, Inner Glows and Drop Shadows to complete the step by step tutorial.
PEN TOOL + SHAPES
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).
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.
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 Illustrator Brushes to adjust the thickness in areas to support the character and light source.
Beginner Top Tips
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.
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.
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.
One of the easiest and fastest ways of filling in your color is through Live Paint. Live Paint is a part of the Shape Builder Tools which builds the shapes in the exact shape you need it without having to use pathfinder. Once you are in Live Paint just point and click to create new shapes. Remember to Expand and Ungroup before moving to the next steps.
The Knife Tool is straight forward and easy to use if you are looking for some fast highlights and shadows. Select the shape you want to cut and slice all the way through the shape with the knife tool. Remember to Deselect before trying to recolor the new shape.
Try adding on multiple layers of highlights and shadows using gradients and transparency. I recommend having different layers for each type of color and value. Flat Color, Gradients, Values (Cast Shadows) and Highlights. Remember you can change the opacity of each layer.
Top notch video as usual man. Cheers!Made by Mighty
I really love your channel, thanx for your tutorial really helpful 🙂 Sara Abdalla • 1 year ago
First time dive into Illustrator. This was great, learned a ton! ThanksPhilippe Lachenal
Such a cool drawing ! My favorite in this series !!!! Espermaschine • 1 year ago
I appreciate your videos. I have been an illustrator user for years and have my own ways of doing things. It’s great to see other ways of using tools and learning tricks I didn’t know were available! It’s also good to see you doing the same thing as me in other instances, confirming I’m on the right track!Andy Zenz
Awesome tutorial! I don’t think I’ve picked up something so easily from someone who knows what they are doing. I managed to draw my first vector art and it was a joy! Great work keep it up!blitz145
Great job Jason, you make it look so easy. And it actually was. Thumbs up!Little Richard • 5 months ago
That was a fun tutorial. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for such a detailed, easy to follow tutorial! Daniel Huckabay • 1 year ago
Love your video thanks so much. you blow Lynda.com out of the water!!!!Steve Yensel
Brilliant video. So much great info packed in here. I’m just getting started drawing cartoons with my Wacom tablet, and this was a huge help. Thumbs up and thanks!Dorian Staten
Wow Thanks Jason…was really struggling with making images with basic shapes. Your tutorial is helping me out!!Kishor Rajani
thanks a lot you are really one of my favorites, I like the steps you give us, and I’m so thankful for that effort you do for helping us :)Wessam Lotfi
Keep up the good work Jason. I’ve been doing Lynda.com tutorials for a few months now and I got more out of your videos than what I’ve received at Lynda. Keep it up and Thank You!!bobby jacobs • 1 year ago
These tutorials are amazing. Just started using illustrator and really glad I found your channel. The only videos that explain everything step by stepAida Stan
You are definitely one of the best teachers I’ve found dealing with start to finish creative process. Great work!!!Jasen Fisher
Thank you loads! Compared to other tutorials, yours are just really well-explained and easy-to-follow. Can totally see that you’ve got a passion for what you’re doing and that’s just wonderful! 🙂 Keep it up, you’re doing an amazing job. Yulia Kachurova
Thank you so much man, I loved the way you explain this, I spent days looking for a good tutorial vid, thanks a lot, gonna keep watching your videos!!!Karel Marccenaro