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.


A lot of our top tips in the first video are relate directly to this initial step of the process. Make sure you are zoomed in and very deliberate with your mouse. Most beginner frustration when it comes to the pen and direct selection tool is that they are too rushed and impatient when clicking and dragging. This 2 step process is to simplify each step to get your lines and anchors down first. The coming back through and adjust the handles with the anchor point tool.

The first step is just connect the dots using the pen tool. The major thing to remember is that the pen tool will try to keep connecting your anchors. When you are done with a line segment click on the “P” key to reset and start a new line.

The second step is the use the anchor point tool “Shift C” to click and drag out your handles. Remember you can drag them out, while still holding down your mouse, and move them into the position. This is good to remember if you drag in the wrong direction. You can always click back on the anchor to reset the anchor point and start again.

Frustrations: When you are clicking and dragging out your handles using the anchor point tool, remember to switch back to your direct selection tool “white arrow” before trying to edit or move the handles or anchors. The frustration comes when you’re still on the anchor tool and it resets your curve back to a corner or breaks your smooth curve.

  • Tip 1: Zoom In!

    While working with anchors and handles make sure you are zoomed in enough to see the individual anchors and handles.

  • Tip 2: Smart Guides On!

    Have your smart guides turned on so you can see when the mouse is hovering over an anchor, path, or handle.

  • Tip 3: Don't Rush!

    Wait for smart guides to say path or anchor before dragging your mouse. The frustration comes with the direct selection tool and dragging out too quickly.

  • Tip 4: Switch back to Direct

    When you are clicking and dragging out your handles using the anchor point tool, remember to switch back to your direct selection tool “white arrow” before trying to edit or move the handles or anchors.

Adding on Line Variation using our Custom Cartoon Brushes

Our custom brushes are found in your resources folder. These brushes are designed to add on line variation to give your designs a professional feel. We will be using the Cartoon Brushes Tinted Library. To open your library, have your downloaded brushes ready. Open your brush window. At the bottom left their will be a brush libraries menu. Scroll down to the bottom to open “Other Library.” Find the location you saved your brushes to and open. The Cartoon Brushes should pop right on up.

Tapered Line

Check where each line segment in the design ends. If you notice that one or more of the ends are floating out in space, this is a good indication that this should be tapered.

Line Thickness

While you are checking the ends of each segment and notice that the line ends connected to another line, this is an indication that the line should get fatter.

Control over Brushes

Our anchor point guides have already been designed with the final line (which includes the brushes) in mind. If you are drawing your own design, pay attention to the length of each line segment for more control over thickness.

Creating Color Swatches

Open the whale color palette from our resource folder by “placing” the image on to a new layer. Open the swatch menu and drag it across so it is next to your fill and stroke Icons. Using the eyedropper select each on of the colors from the color palette and drag them into your swatches. Note there are more values than on the original color palette. Once you are done dragging over your colors move your swatches back over to your menu dock.

  • Blob Brush

    Just like a coloring book. Paint using the blob blush which create a shape rather than a stroke. You can adjust the size of your brush with the bracket keys [ ] .

  • Live Paint

    Unite all of your black lines. Select all. Object- Live Paint – Make. Using the live paint bucket tool fill in large enclosed areas with your base value swatch colors.

Blob Brush
If you like the ease of the blob brush keep it going through your shadows. You can create a new layer above your color layer and paint like a coloring book.

Knife Tool
Super easy and it avoids using pathfinder. Select the shape you want to cut and slice all the way through it. Note: Remember to deselect your shape and reselect your shadow shape before coloring.

Divide Pathfinder
Basically does the same as the knife tool, but it allows you to use pen or shapes for more control and smoother lines. Note: Remember to “ungroup” after pathfinder.



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This may well be the most informative Illustrator teaching that I’ve ever seen. Many thanks.Steve Kobb • 5 months ago
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