Drawing basics

  1. Illustrator User Guide
  2. Get to know Illustrator
    1. Introduction to Illustrator
      1. What's new in Illustrator
      2. Common questions
      3. Illustrator system requirements
      4. Illustrator for Apple silicon
    2. Workspace
      1. Workspace basics
      2. Create documents
      3. Tools Default keyboard shortcuts | Illustrator
      4. Tool galleries
      5. Customize keyboard shortcuts
      6. Artboards
      7. Customize the workspace
      8. Properties panel
      9. Set preferences
      10. Touch Workspace
      11. Microsoft Surface Dial support in Illustrator
      12. Recovery, undo, and automation
      13. Rotate view
      14. Rulers, grids, and guides
      15. Accessibility in Illustrator
      16. Safe Mode
      17. View artwork
      18. Use the Touch Bar with Illustrator
      19. Files and templates
      20. Synchronize settings using Adobe Creative Cloud
  3. Illustrator on the iPad
    1. Introduction to Illustrator on the iPad
      1. Illustrator on the iPad overview
      2. Illustrator on the iPad FAQs
      3. System requirements | Illustrator on the iPad
      4. What you can or cannot do on Illustrator on the iPad
    2. Workspace
      1. Illustrator on the iPad workspace
      2. Touch shortcuts and gestures
      3. Keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator on the iPad
      4. Manage your app settings
    3. Documents
      1. Work with documents in Illustrator on the iPad
      2. Import Photoshop and Fresco documents
    4. Select and arrange objects
      1. Create repeat objects
      2. Blend objects
    5. Drawing
      1. Draw and edit paths
      2. Draw and edit shapes
    6. Type
      1. Work with type and fonts
      2. Create text designs along a path
      3. Add your own fonts
    7. Work with images
      1. Vectorize raster images
    8. Color
      1. Apply colors and gradients
  4. Cloud documents
    1. Basics
      1. Work with Illustrator cloud documents
      2. Share and collaborate on Illustrator cloud documents
      3. Upgrade cloud storage for Adobe Illustrator
      4. Illustrator cloud documents | Common questions
    2. Troubleshooting
      1. Troubleshoot create or save issues for Illustrator cloud documents
      2. Troubleshoot Illustrator cloud documents issues
  5. Add and edit content
    1. Drawing
      1. Drawing basics
      2. Edit paths
      3. Draw pixel-perfect art
      4. Draw with the Pen, Curvature, or Pencil tool
      5. Draw simple lines and shapes
      6. Image Trace
      7. Simplify a path
      8. Define perspective grids
      9. Symbolism tools and symbol sets
      10. Adjust path segments
      11. Design a flower in 5 easy steps
      12. Perspective drawing
      13. Symbols
      14. Draw pixel-aligned paths for web workflows
    2. 3D effects and Adobe Substance materials
      1. About 3D effects in Illustrator
      2. Create 3D graphics
      3. Create 3D objects
      4. Create 3D Text
    3. Color
      1. About color
      2. Select colors
      3. Use and create swatches
      4. Adjust colors
      5. Use the Adobe Color Themes panel
      6. Color groups (harmonies)
      7. Color Themes panel
      8. Recolor your artwork
    4. Painting
      1. About painting
      2. Paint with fills and strokes
      3. Live Paint groups
      4. Gradients
      5. Brushes
      6. Transparency and blending modes
      7. Apply stroke on an object
      8. Create and edit patterns
      9. Meshes
      10. Patterns
    5. Select and arrange objects
      1. Select objects
      2. Layers
      3. Group and expand objects
      4. Move, align, and distribute objects
      5. Stack objects    
      6. Lock, hide, and delete objects
      7. Duplicate objects
      8. Rotate and reflect objects
    6. Reshape objects
      1. Crop images
      2. Transform objects
      3. Combine objects
      4. Cut, divide, and trim objects
      5. Puppet Warp
      6. Scale, shear, and distort objects
      7. Blend objects
      8. Reshape using envelopes
      9. Reshape objects with effects
      10. Build new shapes with Shaper and Shape Builder tools
      11. Work with Live Corners
      12. Enhanced reshape workflows with touch support
      13. Edit clipping masks
      14. Live shapes
      15. Create shapes using the Shape Builder tool
      16. Global editing
    7. Type
      1. Create text
      2. Fonts and typography
      3. Format type
      4. Import and export text
      5. Format paragraphs
      6. Special characters
      7. Create type on a path
      8. Character and paragraph styles
      9. Tabs
      10. Text and type
      11. Find missing fonts (Typekit workflow)
      12. Update text from Illustrator 10
      13. Arabic and Hebrew type
      14. Fonts | FAQ and troubleshooting tips
      15. Create 3D text effect
      16. Creative typography designs
      17. Scale and rotate type
      18. Line and character spacing
      19. Hyphenation and line breaks
      20. Text enhancements
      21. Spelling and language dictionaries
      22. Format Asian characters
      23. Composers for Asian scripts
      24. Create text designs with blend objects
      25. Create a text poster using Image Trace
    8. Create special effects
      1. Work with effects
      2. Graphic styles
      3. Create a drop shadow
      4. Appearance attributes
      5. Create sketches and mosaics
      6. Drop shadows, glows, and feathering
      7. Summary of effects
    9. Web graphics
      1. Best practices for creating web graphics
      2. Graphs
      3. SVG
      4. Create animations
      5. Slices and image maps
  6. Import, export, and save
    1. Import
      1. Import artwork files
      2. Import bitmap images
      3. Import artwork from Photoshop
      4. Place multiple files | Illustrator CC
      5. Unembed images
      6. Import Adobe PDF files
      7. Import EPS, DCS, and AutoCAD files
      8. Links information
    2. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator 
      1. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator
    3. Save
      1. Save artwork
    4. Export
      1. Use Illustrator artwork in Photoshop
      2. Export artwork
      3. Collect assets and export in batches
      4. Package files
      5. Create Adobe PDF files
      6. Extract CSS | Illustrator CC
      7. Adobe PDF options
      8. File information and metadata
  7. Printing
    1. Prepare for printing
      1. Set up documents for printing
      2. Change the page size and orientation
      3. Specify crop marks for trimming or aligning
      4. Get started with large canvas
    2. Printing
      1. Overprint
      2. Print with color management
      3. PostScript printing
      4. Print presets
      5. Printer's marks and bleeds
      6. Print and save transparent artwork
      7. Trapping
      8. Print color separations
      9. Print gradients, meshes, and color blends
      10. White Overprint
  8. Automate tasks
    1. Data merge using the Variables panel
    2. Automation with scripts
    3. Automation with actions
  9. Troubleshooting 
    1. Crash on launch issues
    2. Recover files after crash
    3. File issues
    4. GPU device driver issues
    5. Wacom device issues
    6. DLL file issues
    7. Memory issues
    8. Preferences file issues
    9. Font issues
    10. Printer issues
    11. Share crash report with Adobe
Start on an iPhone or iPad, refine and finish on your desktop
Start on an iPhone or iPad, refine and finish on your desktop!

Is ideating, tracing, or prototyping on your iPad or iPhone the beginning of your Design workflow?

Check out Adobe Illustrator Draw - an app for your iPad or iPhone. Draw incorporates your favorite vector drawing tools and features into a streamlined, modern interface. You can draw lines, shapes, and freeform illustrations and with ten drawing layers and a photo layer. And when you’re back at your desk, Creative Cloud connectivity makes it easy to apply finishing touches in Illustrator or Photoshop.

Important Reminder:

Adobe Illustrator Draw will no longer be available for download on the App Store and Google Play Store starting July 19, 2021. If you already have the app installed, you can continue to use it until January 10, 2022. To enjoy an interruption-free experience with similar and enhanced features, try Adobe Fresco for free. Your Draw assets will be automatically migrated when you first sign in to Fresco. 

About vector graphics

Vector graphics (sometimes called vector shapes or vector objects) are made up of lines and curves defined by mathematical objects called vectors, which describe an image according to its geometric characteristics.

You can freely move or modify vector graphics without losing detail or clarity, because they are resolution-independent—they maintain crisp edges when resized, printed to a PostScript printer, saved in a PDF file, or imported into a vector-based graphics application. As a result, vector graphics are the best choice for artwork, such as logos, that will be used at various sizes and in various output media.

The vector objects you create using the drawing and shape tools in Adobe Creative Cloud are examples of vector graphics. You can use the Copy and Paste commands to duplicate vector graphics between Creative Cloud components.

About paths

As you draw, you create a line called a path. A path is made up of one or more straight or curved segments. The beginning and end of each segment are marked by anchor points, which work like pins holding a wire in place. A path can be closed (for example, a circle), or open, with distinct endpoints (for example, a wavy line).

You change the shape of a path by dragging its anchor points, the direction points at the end of direction lines that appear at anchor points, or the path segment itself.

Components of a path
Components of a path

A. Selected (solid) endpoint B. Selected anchor point C. Unselected anchor point D. Curved path segment E. Direction line F. Direction point 

Paths can have two kinds of anchor points: corner points and smooth points. At a corner point, a path abruptly changes direction. At a smooth point, path segments are connected as a continuous curve. You can draw a path using any combination of corner and smooth points. If you draw the wrong kind of point, you can always change it.

Points on a path
Points on a path

A. Four corner points B. Four smooth points C. Combination of corner and smooth points 

A corner point can connect any two straight or curved segments, while a smooth point always connects two curved segments.

A corner point can connect both straight segments and curved segments.
A corner point can connect both straight segments and curved segments.

Note:

Don’t confuse corner and smooth points with straight and curved segments.

A path’s outline is called a stroke. A color or gradient applied to an open or closed path’s interior area is called a fill. A stroke can have weight (thickness), color, and a dash pattern (Illustrator and InDesign) or a stylized line pattern (InDesign). After you create a path or shape, you can change the characteristics of its stroke and fill.

In InDesign, each path also displays a center point, which marks the center of the shape but is not part of the actual path. You can use this point to drag the path, to align the path with other elements, or to select all anchor points on the path. The center point is always visible; it can’t be hidden or deleted.

About direction lines and direction points

When you select an anchor point that connects curved segments (or select the segment itself), the anchor points of the connecting segments display direction handles, which consist of direction lines that end in direction points. The angle and length of the direction lines determine the shape and size of the curved segments. Moving the direction points reshapes the curves. Direction lines don’t appear in the final output.

A smooth point always has two direction lines, which move together as a single, straight unit. When you move a direction line on a smooth point, the curved segments on both sides of the point are adjusted simultaneously, maintaining a continuous curve at that anchor point.

In comparison, a corner point can have two, one, or no direction lines, depending on whether it joins two, one, or no curved segments, respectively. Corner point direction lines maintain the corner by using different angles. When you move a direction line on a corner point, only the curve on the same side of the point as that direction line is adjusted.

After selecting an anchor point (left), direction lines appear on any curved segments connected by the anchor point (right).
After selecting an anchor point (left), direction lines appear on any curved segments connected by the anchor point (right).

Adjusting direction lines on a smooth point (left) and a corner point (right)
Adjusting direction lines on a smooth point (left) and a corner point (right)

Direction lines are always tangent to (perpendicular to the radius of) the curve at the anchor points. The angle of each direction line determines the slope of the curve, and the length of each direction line determines the height, or depth, of the curve.

Moving and resizing direction lines changes the slope of curves.
Moving and resizing direction lines changes the slope of curves.

Note:

In Illustrator, you can show or hide anchor points, direction lines, and direction points by choosing View > Show Edges or View > Hide Edges.

Specify direction line and direction point appearance

When working with anchor points and paths, you may sometimes need to see direction lines (handles), while at other times they may get in the way. You can show or hide direction lines for multiple selected anchor points. For a single anchor point, the lines always appear.

You can choose to show or hide direction lines on a per-selection basis, or you can set a preference for direction line display.

Show or hide direction lines for selected anchor points

  1. Use the Direct Selection tool to select the desired anchor points.

  2. In the Control panel, click Show Handles For Multiple Selected Anchor Points  > or Hide Handles For Multiple Selected Anchor Points .

Adjust anchor point, handle, and bounding box display size

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display (macOS).

  2. In the Anchor Point And Handle Display area, specify any of the following:

    Size

    Adjust the slider to change the display size of anchor points, handles, and bounding boxes.

    Highlight Anchors On Mouse Over

    Highlights the anchor point located directly below the mouse cursor.

    Handle Style

    Specifies the display of handle end points (direction points):

    •  Displays direction points as blue solid circles.

    •  Displays direction points as white circles.

    Show Handles When Multiple Anchors Are Selected

    Displays direction lines on all selected anchor points when you use the Direct Selection tool or Group Selection tool to select an object. If you don’t select this option, direction lines are displayed for an anchor point if it is the only anchor point selected on that path, or if the Bezier segment for the direction line is selected and the anchor point from which the direction line extends is not selected.

Drawing modes

Illustrator provides the following drawing modes:

  • Draw Normal () 

  • Draw Behind ()

  • Draw Inside ()

A dotted open rectangle is displayed when an object with Draw Inside mode is active.
A dotted open rectangle like the one shown in the illustration C, is displayed when an object with Draw Inside mode is active.

The Draw Normal mode is the default drawing mode. You can select drawing modes from the Tools panel, below the Color Selector tool.

drawing modes panel
Drawing Modes panel

To switch through drawing modes, click the Drawing Modes panel in the Tools panel and select the drawing mode. You can also use the Shift+D keyboard shortcut to cycle through the drawing modes.

Note:

The options, Paste, Paste in Place, and Paste on All Artboardshonor the drawing modes. However, Paste in Front and Paste in Back commands are not affected by the drawing modes.

Draw Behind mode

The Draw Behind mode allows you to draw behind all artwork on a selected layer if no artwork is selected. If an artwork is selected, the new object is drawn directly beneath the selected object.

The draw behind mode is honored in the following cases:

  • Creating new layers

  • Placing symbols

  • Placing files from the File menu

  • Using Alt+Drag to duplicate objects

  • Using Paste in Place and Paste on All Artboards options

Draw Inside mode

The Draw Inside mode allows you to draw inside the selected object. The Draw Inside mode eliminates the need to perform multiple tasks such as drawing and altering stacking order or drawing, selecting, and creating a clipping mask.

The draw inside mode is enabled only when there is a single selected object (path, compound path, or text).

To create clipping masks using the Draw Inside mode, select the path within which you want to draw and switch to the Draw Inside mode. Subsequent paths are clipped by the path that was selected when you switch to the Draw Inside mode, until you switch to the Draw Normal mode (Shift+D or double-click).

Note:

The clipping masks created using Draw Inside retain the appearance on the clipping path unlike the menu command Object > Clipping Mask > Make.

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