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How do I constrain the Pencil Tool

May 2, 2012 9:10 AM

Tags: #pencil #constraint

I am using Illustrator CS 5 on a Mac Pro using Lion OS X. I am an intermediate user having had to move over from Freehand. I just started using the Pencil tool today but can't figure out how to activate the modifier keys to work with the Pencil tool. They work with all the other tools like shapes and the pen tool, just not with Pencil.

 

I did a web search and found several threads about similar problems that seemed to be concerned with the modifier keys not working with ALL command. Suggestions included turning off Foxfire, Outlook, Entourage, etc. with indifferent success. Also deleting the preferences files. But I only have a problem with one command. I have found tutorials that indicate using the modifier keys with Pencil so I know it is supposed to work. Is there a solution? I don't know a lot about this so please be explicit in any replys. I am not an IT expert and didn't follow the jargon in most of the posts I found.

 

Sign me Confused and Frustrated.

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    May 2, 2012 9:18 AM   in reply to Ngaio9

    Exactly what kind of constraint behavior are you looking for from the Pencil Tool?

     

    JET

     
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    May 2, 2012 1:15 PM   in reply to Ngaio9

    The pencil tool doesn't have angle constraining. That is to say, holding down Shift won't do anything.

    Should do you would think but angle constraining only works on the Pen and Line Segment tools

     
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    May 2, 2012 1:25 PM   in reply to Ngaio9

    Illustrator will do that. Here's an example of squiggly lines done in AI, along with the "Appearance" used to create them.

    Screen shot 2012-05-02 at 3.13.57 PM.png

    Remember, you can add "Effects" to geometry in AI, to alter it's appearance. This is much faster and offers more editing options than hand drawing the "squigglies".

    If you're new to AI, read up on the Appearance panel and try your hand at creating an appearance that matches your creative goals.

     

    Once you have an appearance you like, save it as a "Style" and assign it to any stroke or object. Then, if you change your mind you can update the style, to globally update the drawing.

     

    If you want straight lines use the "Line Segment" tool (access it from the keyboard by typing "\"). Your style can be assigned those strokes just as it can be assigned to any other object.

     
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    May 2, 2012 1:43 PM   in reply to Ngaio9

    I don't know of any constraints possible for the pencil tool in Illustrator.

    If you double click on the pencil tool in the toolbox you have some options to control how the pencil works, just play with them and you will figure it out.

    The way I use it for things that you describe, I start with loose drawing of the paths with the option to stay selected. This allows me to change or refine the paths as desired by drawing again over sections of the selected path with the pencil or when holding Alt key it turns into the smoothing pencil.

    For the straight segments, when creating the path, I try to draw it so it passes through the starting and ending points of the intended straight segment but without any effort to keep it straight. When I finish drawing the entire path, I take the lasso tool (Q), select the redundant points on the intended straight segments and remove them (not delete) by using a hotkey made for the remove points button on the property bars. Then if necessary use the Convert anchor point tool (Shift + C) to turn into corner points the first and last anchor points of the straight segments by clicking on the handles and snapping them into their points.

     
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    May 2, 2012 2:13 PM   in reply to Ngaio9

    The penci lool is suppose to ca alike a pencil which requires a straight edse in order to draw as raight line

     

    this was drawn with the pencil tool running the mouse along the edge of my keyboard keeping it perpendicular as I dragged, not so easy.

     

    Screen Shot 2012-05-02 at 5.11.18 PM.png

     
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    May 2, 2012 2:19 PM   in reply to Wade_Zimmerman

    I've submitted a couple feature requests asking that Shift constrain the pencil to a 90°. So far.. no luck There's no reason a digital pencil can't be better than a traditional pencil.

     

    Couple ideas for the tool:

    Shift to constrain

    Option/Alt+Shift to temporarily switch to Pen Tool (and keep path/anchor active)

    Conversely.. with the Pen tool in use Option/Alt + Shift to temporarily switch to the Pencil Tool (and keep path/anchor active)

     

    My goal would be to draw either beziers or free form without the need to switch tools. In addition, there's no way to dynamically join a Pen-drawn path with a Pencil-drawn path. You have to select endpoints and join them.

     
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    May 2, 2012 2:21 PM   in reply to Wade_Zimmerman

    @ wade ... lol..

     

    @ ngalo9

     

    if you double click the pencil tool, you can set pencil tool options as well (smoothness, fidelity etc). And with the pencil tool selected by pressing and holding the option key, the tool changes to the smoothness tool to refine your line..

     

    G

     
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    May 2, 2012 2:23 PM   in reply to Wade_Zimmerman

    Used to do that years ago in Painter. I would like to see some constraint capability with the pencil tool. It's available with the brush tool, why not the pencil tool?

     
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    May 2, 2012 4:52 PM   in reply to Ngaio9

    Ngaio9,

     

    FreeHand's pencil tool is unaffected by modifier keys, where's the difference?

     
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    May 2, 2012 4:48 PM   in reply to [scott w]

    Grant you're just like everyone else...no one takes me serious boo hook!

     

    Scott that's a brilliant way of putting and if the feature request was made with that argument then it will happen.

     

    "No reason a digital pencil can't be better than a traditional one!"

     

    +couldn't be better stated, it can't fail.

     
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    May 2, 2012 4:55 PM   in reply to rcraighead

    rcraighead wrote:

     

    ... I would like to see some constraint capability with the pencil tool. It's available with the brush tool, why not the pencil tool?

    It should be much better than that and they should improve the brush tool too by making the constraint work in the middle of a freehand stroke. Currently it is either straight lines or freehand. Also in addition to the angle constraints they should make these tools Pencil, Brush, and even the Lasso selection tool work like the Lasso selection tool in Photoshop, when holding a modifier key a straight line is drawn from one point to another without interrupting the stroke which can be continued again as free hand when the modifier key is released.

     
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    May 2, 2012 6:01 PM   in reply to emil emil

    when holding a modifier key a straight line is drawn from one point to another without interrupting the stroke which can be continued again as free hand when the modifier key is released.

     

    The DrawScribe plug-in has two tools that are improved versions of the pen and pencil. The pencil replacement tool (Dynamic Sketch) features a straight line mode which works exactly that way (plus you can constrain its angle with Shift).

     

    DF

     
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    May 2, 2012 6:18 PM   in reply to emil emil

    ...they should make these tools Pencil, Brush, and even the Lasso selection tool work like the Lasso selection tool in Photoshop...

     

    Exactly. The so-called "rubber band" behavior.

     

    Similarly, one should be able to convert any path drawn to either a selection marquee or a cutting path. Multiple tools could be elegantly consolidated while providing more functionality.

     

    JET

     
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    May 3, 2012 7:27 AM   in reply to Ngaio9

    Use "Effect>Distort&Transform>Roughen" to create the look you want for the line. You can add more than one stroke attribute in the "appearance" panel to create a more random look to the line appearance. Here's a picture of the appearance panel that might help:

    Screen shot 2012-05-03 at 9.15.39 AM.png

    If you want an "overstroke" appearance, as you've mentioned, you might be able to use ""Effect>Distort&Transform>Transform" and adjust the Horiz/Vert scale, or create an "Art Brush" and assign it to the strokes (brushes can be assigned to any stroke, they do NOT have to be drawn with the brush tool). To create an art brush that extends past the ends of a stroke, build it with it's bounding box shorter than the artwork. The downside is that the "Art Brush" will not be as random as the "Appearance" effects.

     

    I know this is not in the detail you need as a new user of AI. Read all about Appearances, Styles and Brushes, in the online help documentation.

     
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