4 Replies Latest reply: Jun 9, 2012 6:02 AM by JETalmage RSS

    How do you use the pen tool to perfectly match an existing path??

    ross16

      Hey,

       

      I'm currently using the pen tool to trace out a Nike trainer to help improve my basic skills and understanding of the tool.

       

      The problem I'm having is that I want each section of the shoe to be its own shape so that I can edit the colours individually.

      However when drawing each section in some places I have to draw over the outlines of already created shapes and trying to match/overlap the paths as close as possible is a nightmare. I want to have a stroke enabled on all shapes to better define them but I get areas where the overlaping sections look uneven giving the shapes very unsmooth curves where overlapping occurs.

       

      So I am just wondering if there is a way to enable the pen tool to snap to certain sections of existing paths so I have a perfect overlap when required?

       

       

      Nike-Air-Force-1-Low-10_023.jpg

      Pen tool help.jpg

        • 1. Re: How do you use the pen tool to perfectly match an existing path??
          Wade_Zimmerman Community Member

          You would probably on do it the way you are intending to match the paths. what one might d is simply extenso that it overlaps the other path and send it behind the shape on top. If you feel you really need it to butt upagainst or siut right on top then draw the shape that intersect to extend past and the object to be butted to.

           

          Then with the direct select tool the path segment that extended path overlaps, you do that by clicking on the path segment and not any anchor points.

           

          You then copy and paste in place then lock the path you copied the segment from as well as any paths the segment touches. Except the pathy that extends pastt hat segment the one you want have butted.

           

          keep the segment you pasted in place selected and do not select anything else go to Object>Path>Divide Object Below

           

          the delete the path that extended past that segment you want to match

           

          Here it is witht he segn]ment I want to match copied and pasted in place and it is selected (Notice the path I drew that i am dividing is closed)

           

          Screen Shot 2012-06-09 at 8.04.27 AM.png

           

          Here it is after the divide objects below command invoked

           

          Screen Shot 2012-06-09 at 8.05.23 AM.png

          Here it is with the deleted extraneous part deleted

          Screen Shot 2012-06-09 at 8.05.37 AM.png

          Here I turned ff the visibilty of the segment of the original path that I copied in place so you can see you now have a new object trimmed.

           

          Screen Shot 2012-06-09 at 8.06.00 AM.png

           

          I miught have made it sound complicated but it is not really. Remember to unlock the path you locked if you want to edit it.

          • 2. Re: How do you use the pen tool to perfectly match an existing path??
            Jacob Bugge MVP

            Ross,

             

            The problem I'm having is that I want each section of the shoe to be its own shape so that I can edit the colours individually.

             

            You may use Live Paint to colour different areas regardless of actual paths, but the more practice the better.

             

            You may draw main shapes, such as the outer shape, as closed paths with the Pen Tool, and then draw inner/common (parts of) paths, such as the upper rim of the sole, separately as  open paths that extend past the main/outer shapes, and then you may use Object>Path>Divide Objects Below (selecting only the path that is to divide tha shape), or you may use Pathfinder>Divide; the former is often simpler.

             

            You can also reuse segments by DirectSelecting them, then copy and paste in place, to have them as independent paths to join (to).

            • 3. Re: How do you use the pen tool to perfectly match an existing path??
              Wade_Zimmerman Community Member

              Also having writen all of that you  could di it by turning it into a live paint group.

               

              The important thing about the pen tool is to know when you would use it and wen you would use another tool or command.

               

              Read about Live paint groups and look at some videos on adobe tv.

               

              This is the best i can do the manual way as you were trying to accomplish. I also used the reshape tool to help a bit.

               

              But you see it will almost never match quite right.

               

              Screen Shot 2012-06-09 at 8.26.03 AM.png

              • 4. Re: How do you use the pen tool to perfectly match an existing path??
                JETalmage Community Member

                I'm currently using the pen tool to trace out a Nike trainer to help improve my basic skills and understanding of the tool.

                Good. Good choice of exercise.

                 

                The problem I'm having is that I want each section of the shoe to be its own shape so that I can edit the colours individually.

                Right. You want each "section" to be a discrete path, so it will exist as a separate object, so it can be given its own fill/stroke attributes.

                 

                However when drawing each section in some places I have to draw over the outlines of already created shapes and trying to match/overlap the paths as close as possible is a nightmare.

                 

                You are using "match" and "overlap" as if they are the same thing. There are times when you want parts of the edges of two paths to actually, accurately be the same shape, so that they neatly abut, leaving no gaps and having no overlap. But most of the time, overlapping of paths is perfectly fine. You really don't have to make all those adjacent paths the same shape where they touch.

                 

                Realize, everything in a vector drawing program is a discrete object. Paths are objects. Raster images are objects. Text frames are objects. (Characters within text frames are objects.) Being a collection of independent objects, they all have a stacking order. The portion of a path object that is in front of another path object will (by default) hide the area of intersection of the path object that is behind. In print, the front object will (again, by default) "knock out" the intersection area of the object that is behind. No, you don't want to be intentionally sloppy about it, but usually, that's fine.

                 

                When you do want/need two paths to accurately abut along a "shared edge" (remember, it's really still portions of two edges; two different paths), the most sure way to do it is to actually copy, or "clone in place" one of the paths and then reshape the portions of it that do not abut; or "clone in place" just the portion(s) of the original path that need to match, then add segments to the copied portion to complete the rest of its shape.

                 

                For that, familiarize yourself with:

                 

                • Selecting and manipulating (in Illustrator's unintuitive interface, "direct selecting") the subparts of a path (anchorPoints and segments).
                • Copying/cutting such "partial path" selections to the Clipboard.
                • Cutting paths with the Scissor tool and Knife tool, and their keyboard modifiers.
                • Cutting paths at selected anchorPoints with the Johnny-come-lately split command (the Scissor icon in the Conrol Panel).
                • Paste In Front and Paste Behind commands.
                • Adding to an existing open path.

                 

                So I am just wondering if there is a way to enable the pen tool to snap to certain sections of existing paths so I have a perfect overlap when required?

                 

                Not really. There are various snap features (comparitively poor in Illustrator), but you won't get the Pen tool to snap precisely to not only the anchorPoints but also to the Curve Handles of an unselected pre-existing path as you draw a new path with the Pen. That's why you simply copy/paste the portions of interest from the pre-existing path and complete the new path from there. (Plus, the tedium of actually drawing new paths that coincide with existing paths is aggravated by Illustrator's always-in-the-way auto-join behavior.)

                 

                Standard fare in most all vector drawing programs is a set of path combination commands which perform Boolean operations (think set theory--addition, subtraction, intersection) on multiple paths. Illustrator's gotta-have-a-cutsey-name-for-every-ordinary-thing-just-to-make-it-sound-special name for that feature set is Pathfinders. So see the now infuriatingly tedious, slow, and cumbersome online-insistent, documentation about using Pathfinders.

                 

                Understand, Pathfinders are automated routines. That often means less-than-accurate. So although usually fine, path combination algorithms sometimes cause subtle shape changes, or create anchorPoints at less-than-optimal places.

                 

                Be aware that always-late-to-the-game Illustrator has recently acquired a flood-fill feature, cutesy-named "Live Paint." This is essentially an automated combination of auto-tracing (cutesy-named "Live Trace") and Pathfinders. This is not a terrible feature and can be put to practical use, but it is far far better for a vector drawing beginner to understand what is actaully going on, rather than becoming entirely dependent upon such instant-gratification software-specific crutches. So drawing your paths deliberately as descrived above will do you much more good.

                 

                I want to have a stroke enabled on all shapes to better define them...

                Realize in this fretting to make paths perfecty abut that (by default) the thickness of a Stroke actually straddles the edge of the path to which it is applied. So strokes don't really abut; the vast majority of them half-overlap the fills applied to the same path. This is, in fact, an important characteristic of normal strokes in vector drawing programs, as strokes are commonly set to overprint--intentionally printing on top of the edges of fills to prevent gaps on press. I just mention this to further butress the point that overlapping objects in vector drawing is not necessarily a bad thing.

                 

                For example: Just as the actual laces in the actual shoe actually do overlap the eyelets panel, there would be nothing wrong with your drawing of the laces to overlap your drawing of the eyelets panel. If you want a stroke around the laces, that's all you need--a stroke applied to the paths that define the laces. You don't need an identically-shaped stroke applied to the panel.

                 

                Find the sample illustration files that are typically included with Illustrator. Open them and dissect them down to individual objects. Beyond just "showing off" what can be done with Illustrator (in skilled hands) that's their purpose; to demonstrate the practical realities of how illustrations are assembled as stacks of individual objects.

                 

                JET