Draw with the Pen tool

Draw straight line segments with the Pen tool

The simplest path you can draw with the Pen tool is a straight line, made by clicking the Pen tool to create two anchor points. By continuing to click, you create a path made of straight line segments connected by corner points.

Pen tool
Clicking Pen tool creates straight segments.

  1. Select the Pen tool.
  2. Position the Pen tool where you want the straight segment to begin, and click to define the first anchor point (do not drag).

    Note:

    The first segment you draw will not be visible until you click a second anchor point. (Select the Rubber Band option in Photoshop to preview path segments.) Also, if direction lines appear, you’ve accidentally dragged the Pen tool; choose Edit > Undo, and click again.

  3. Click again where you want the segment to end (Shift-click to constrain the angle of the segment to a multiple of 45°).
  4. Continue clicking to set anchor points for additional straight segments.

    The last anchor point you add always appears as a solid square, indicating that it is selected. Previously defined anchor points become hollow, and deselected, as you add more anchor points.

  5. Complete the path by doing one of the following:
    • To close the path, position the Pen tool over the first (hollow) anchor point. A small circle appears next to the Pen tool pointer  when it is positioned correctly. Click or drag to close the path.

      note: To close a path in InDesign, you can also select the object and choose Object > Paths > Close Path.

    • To leave the path open, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) anywhere away from all objects.

      To leave the path open, you can also select a different tool, or choose Select > Deselect in Illustrator or Edit >Deselect All in InDesign. In InDesign or Illustrator, you can also simply press Enter or Return to leave the path open.

Draw curves with the Pen tool

You create a curve by adding an anchor point where a curve changes direction, and dragging the direction lines that shape the curve. The length and slope of the direction lines determine the shape of the curve.

Curves are easier to edit and your system can display and print them faster if you draw them using as few anchor points as possible. Using too many points can also introduce unwanted bumps in a curve. Instead, draw widely spaced anchor points, and practice shaping curves by adjusting the length and angles of the direction lines.

  1. Select the Pen tool.
  2. Position the Pen tool where you want the curve to begin, and hold down the mouse button.

    The first anchor point appears, and the Pen tool pointer changes to an arrowhead. (In Photoshop, the pointer changes only after you’ve started dragging.)

  3. Drag to set the slope of the curve segment you’re creating, and then release the mouse button.

    In general, extend the direction line about one third of the distance to the next anchor point you plan to draw. (You can adjust one or both sides of the direction line later.)

    Hold down the Shift key to constrain the tool to multiples of 45°.

    Drawing the first point in a curve
    Drawing the first point in a curve

    A. Positioning Pen tool B. Starting to drag (mouse button pressed) C. Dragging to extend direction lines 
  4. Position the Pen tool where you want the curve segment to end, and do one of the following:
    • To create a C‑shaped curve, drag in a direction opposite to the previous direction line. Then release the mouse button.

    Drawing the second point in a curve
    Drawing the second point in a curve

    • To create an S‑shaped curve, drag in the same direction as the previous direction line. Then release the mouse button.

    Drawing an S curve
    Drawing an S curve

    Note:

    (Photoshop only) To change the direction of the curve sharply, release the mouse button, and then Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) the direction point in the direction of the curve. Release the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) key and the mouse button, reposition the pointer where you want the segment to end, and drag in the opposite direction to complete the curve segment.

  5. Continue dragging the Pen tool from different locations to create a series of smooth curves. Note that you are placing anchor points at the beginning and end of each curve, not at the tip of the curve.

    Note:

    Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) direction lines to break out the direction lines of an anchor point.

  6. Complete the path by doing one of the following:
    • To close the path, position the Pen tool over the first (hollow) anchor point. A small circle appears next to the Pen tool pointer  when it is positioned correctly. Click or drag to close the path.

      note: To close a path in InDesign, you can also select the object and choose Object > Paths > Close Path.

    • To leave the path open, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) anywhere away from all objects.

      To leave the path open, you can also select a different tool, or choose Select > Deselect in Illustrator or Edit >Deselect All in InDesign.

Reposition anchor points as you draw

  • After you click to create an anchor point, keep the mouse button pressed down, hold down the spacebar, and drag to reposition the anchor point.

Finish drawing a path

  • Complete a path in one of the following ways:
    • To close a path, position the Pen tool over the first (hollow) anchor point. A small circle appears next to the Pen tool pointer  when it is positioned correctly. Click or drag to close the path.

      Note: To close a path in InDesign, you can also select the object and choose Object > Paths > Close Path.

    • To leave a path open, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) anywhere away from all objects.

To leave the path open, you can also select a different tool, or choose Select > Deselect in Illustrator or Edit > Deselect All in InDesign. In InDesign, you can also simply press Enter or Return to leave the path open.

Draw straight lines followed by curves

  1. Using the Pen tool, click corner points in two locations to create a straight segment.
  2. Position the Pen tool over the selected endpoint. In Illustrator and InDesign, a convert-point icon appears next to the Pen tool when it is positioned correctly (In Photoshop, a small diagonal line, or slash, appears next to the Pen tool). To set the slope of the curved segment you’ll create next, click the anchor point, and drag the direction line that appears.
    Drawing segments
    Drawing a straight segment followed by a curved segment (part 1)

    A. Straight segment completed B. Positioning Pen tool over endpoint (the Convert Point icon appears only in Illustrator and InDesign) C. Dragging direction point 
  3. Position the pen where you want the next anchor point; then click (and drag, if desired) the new anchor point to complete the curve.
    Drawing segments
    Drawing a straight segment followed by a curved segment (part 2)

    A. Positioning Pen tool B. Dragging direction line C. New curve segment completed 

Draw curves followed by straight lines

  1. Using the Pen tool, drag to create the first smooth point of the curved segment, and release the mouse button.
  2. Reposition the Pen tool where you want the curved segment to end, drag to complete the curve, and release the mouse button.
    Drawing segments
    Drawing a curved segment followed by a straight segment (part 1)

    A. First smooth point of curved segment completed and Pen tool positioned over endpoint B. Dragging to complete the curve 
  3. Position the Pen tool over the selected endpoint. A convert-point icon appears next to the Pen tool when it is positioned correctly. Click the anchor point to convert the smooth point to a corner point.
  4. Reposition the Pen tool where you want the straight segment to end, and click to complete the straight segment.
    Drawing segments
    Drawing a curved segment followed by a straight segment (part 2)

    A. Positioning Pen tool over existing endpoint B. Clicking endpoint C. Clicking next corner point 

Draw two curved segments connected by a corner

  1. Using the Pen tool, drag to create the first smooth point of a curved segment.
  2. Reposition the Pen tool and drag to create a curve with a second smooth point; then press and hold Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) and drag the direction line toward its opposing end to set the slope of the next curve. Release the key and the mouse button.

    This process converts the smooth point to a corner point by splitting the direction lines.

  3. Reposition the Pen tool where you want the second curved segment to end, and drag a new smooth point to complete the second curved segment.
Drawing two curves
Drawing two curves

A. Dragging a new smooth point B. Pressing Alt/Option to split direction lines while dragging, and swinging direction line up C. Result after repositioning and dragging a third time 

Draw with the Pencil tool

The Pencil tool works primarily the same way in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. It lets you draw open and closed paths as if you were drawing with a pencil on paper. It is most useful for fast sketching or creating a hand-drawn look. Once you draw a path, you can immediately change it if needed.

Anchor points are set down as you draw with the Pencil tool; you do not determine where they are positioned. However, you can adjust them once the path is complete. The number of anchor points set down is determined by the length and complexity of the path and by tolerance settings in the Pencil Tool Preferences dialog box. These settings control how sensitive the Pencil tool is to the movement of your mouse or graphics-tablet stylus.

Draw freeform paths with the Pencil tool

  1. Select the Pencil tool .
  2. Position the tool where you want the path to begin, and drag to draw a path. The Pencil tool  displays a small x to indicate drawing a freeform path.

    As you drag, a dotted line follows the pointer. Anchor points appear at both ends of the path and at various points along it. The path takes on the current stroke and fill attributes, and remains selected by default.

Draw closed paths with the Pencil tool

  1. Select the Pencil tool.
  2. Position the tool where you want the path to begin, and start dragging to draw a path.
  3. After you’ve begun dragging, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS). The Pencil tool displays a small circle (and, in InDesign, a solid eraser) to indicate that you’re creating a closed path.
  4. When the path is the size and shape you want, release the mouse button (but not the Alt or Option key). After the path closes, release the Alt or Option key.

    You don’t have to position the cursor over the starting point of the path in order to create a closed path; if you release the mouse button in some other location, the Pencil tool will close the shape by creating the shortest possible line back to the original point.

Edit paths with the Pencil tool

You can edit any path using the Pencil tool and add freeform lines and shapes to any shape.

Add to a path with the Pencil tool

  1. Select an existing path.
  2. Select the Pencil tool.
  3. Position the pencil tip on an endpoint of the path.

    You can tell you’re close enough to the endpoint when the small x next to the pencil tip disappears.

  4. Drag to continue the path.

Connect two paths with the Pencil tool

  1. Select both paths (Shift-click or drag around the two with the Selection tool).
  2. Select the Pencil tool.
  3. Position the pointer where you want to begin from one path, and start dragging toward the other path.
  4. After you begin dragging, hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS). The Pencil tool displays a small merge symbol to indicate you’re adding to the existing path.
  5. Drag onto the endpoint of the other path, release the mouse button, and then release the Ctrl or Command key.

    Note:

    For best results, drag from one path to the other as if you were simply continuing the paths in the direction they were created.

Reshape paths with the Pencil tool

  1. Select the path you want to change.
  2. Position the Pencil tool on or near the path to redraw.

    You can tell you’re close enough to the path when the small x disappears from the tool.

  3. Drag the tool until the path is the desired shape.
    Using the Pencil tool
    Using the Pencil tool to edit a closed shape

    Note:

    Depending on where you begin to redraw the path and in which direction you drag, you may get unexpected results. For example, you may unintentionally change a closed path to an open path, change an open path to a closed path, or lose a portion of a shape.

Pencil tool options

Double-click the Pencil tool  to set any of the following options:

Fidelity

Controls how far you have to move your mouse or stylus before a new anchor point is added to the path. The higher the value, the smoother and less complex the path. The lower the value, the more the curves will match the pointer’s movement, resulting in sharper angles. Fidelity can range from 0.5 to 20 pixels.

Smoothness

Controls the amount of smoothing applied when you use the tool. Smoothness can range from 0% to 100%. The higher the value, the smoother the path. The lower the value, the more anchor points are created, and the more the line’s irregularities are preserved.

Fill New Pencil Strokes

(Illustrator only) Applies a fill to pencil strokes you draw after selecting this option, but not to existing pencil strokes. Remember to select a fill before you draw the pencil strokes.

Keep Selected

Determines whether to keep the path selected after you draw it. This option is selected by default.

Edit Selected Paths

Determines whether or not you can change or merge a selected path when you are within a certain distance of it (specified with the next option).

Within: _ pixels

Determines how close your mouse or stylus must be to an existing path in order to edit the path with the Pencil tool. This option is only available when the Edit Selected Paths option is selected.

Draw flares

The Flare tool creates flare objects with a bright center, a halo, and rays and rings. Use this tool to create an effect similar to a lens flare in a photograph.

Flares include a center handle and an end handle. Use the handles to position the flare and its rings. The center handle is in the bright center of the flare—the flare path begins from this point.

Components of a flare
Components of a flare

A. Center handle B. End handle C. Rays (shown black for clarity) D. Halo E. Rings 

To learn more about creating and editing flares, see this topic in web Help.

Note:

Complete, updated Help is on the web. The application did not detect an Internet connection. For a complete version of this topic, click the link below or search complete Help at community.adobe.com/help.

Create a flare

The Flare tool creates flare objects with a bright center, a halo, and rays and rings. Use this tool to create an effect similar to a lens flare in a photograph.

Flares include a center handle and an end handle. Use the handles to position the flare and its rings. The center handle is in the bright center of the flare—the flare path begins from this point.

Components of a flare
Components of a flare

A. Center handle B. End handle C. Rays (shown black for clarity) D. Halo E. Rings 

Create a default flare

  1. Select the Flare tool .

  2. Press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and click where you want the center handle of the flare to appear.

    Note:

    Flares often look best when drawn over existing objects.

Draw a flare

  1. Select the Flare tool.

  2. Press the mouse button down to place the center handle of the flare, then drag to set the size of the center, the size of the halo, and to rotate the angle of the rays.

    Before releasing the mouse, press Shift to constrain the rays to a set angle. Press Up Arrow or Down Arrow to add or subtract rays. Press Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) to hold the center of the flare constant.

  3. Release the mouse when the center, halo, and rays are as desired.

  4. Press and drag again to add rings to the flare and place the end handle.

    Before releasing the mouse, Press Up Arrow or Down Arrow to add or subtract rings. Press the tilde (~) key to randomly place the rings.

  5. Release the mouse when the end handle is in the desired location.

    Each element (center, halo, rings, and rays) in the flare is filled with color at different opacity settings.

Create a flare using the Flare Tool Options dialog box

  1. Select the Flare tool, and click where you want to place the center handle of the flare.

  2. In the Flare Tool Options dialog box, do any of the following options, and click OK:

    • Specify the overall diameter, opacity, and brightness of the flare’s center.

    • Specify the Growth of the halo as a percentage of the overall size, and specify the fuzziness of the halo (0 is crisp and 100 is fuzzy).

    • If you want the flare to contain rays, select Rays and specify the number of rays, the longest ray (as a percentage of the average ray), and the fuzziness of the rays (0 is crisp and 100 is fuzzy).

    • If you want the flare to contain rings, select Rings and specify the distance of the path between the halo’s center point (center handle) and the center point of the furthest ring (end handle), the number of rings, the largest ring (as a percentage of the average ring), and the direction or angle of the rings.

Edit a flare

Do any of the following:

  • Select the flare, and double-click the Flare tool icon to open the Flare Tool Options dialog box. Change settings in the dialog box.

    Tip: To reset a flare to the default values, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and click Reset.

  • Select the flare and the Flare tool. Drag an endpoint—from either the center handle or the end handle—to change the length or direction of the flare.

  • Select the flare, and choose Object > Expand. This makes the elements of the flare editable, like elements of blends.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License  Twitter™ and Facebook posts are not covered under the terms of Creative Commons.

Legal Notices   |   Online Privacy Policy