9 Replies Latest reply on Jan 24, 2010 2:29 PM by HarryPutnam

    Better ways to work with the pen tool

    HarryPutnam Level 1

      I'm finding the pen tool a real aggravation to use... first off you cannot hardly see the points once a path is completed.  Even blowing the artwork up really big doesn't help much.

       

      Then its really easy to loose the ability to move individual points... at least I've found that at one point I can select and move the points easily with keyboard and somehow I loose that ability and seems to difficult to regain it.  Instead I'm moving the whole path.

       

      I wondered if any of the plugins out there might be dedicated to making the pen tool points easier to manipulate and edit.  Just making them easily visible would probably be enough.

        • 1. Re: Better ways to work with the pen tool
          Jacob Bugge MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          Harry,

           

          Have you tried using the Direct Selection Tool with the View>Smart Guides on? That may help you hit the Anchor Points; if you miss them you may suddenly be working on the whole path.

          • 2. Re: Better ways to work with the pen tool
            HarryPutnam Level 1

            Jacob Bugge wrote:

             

            Harry,

             

            Have you tried using the Direct Selection Tool with the View>Smart Guides on? That may help you hit the Anchor Points; if you miss them you may suddenly be working on the whole path.

             

            Gackk, no I wasn't using direct select, but finally  I remembered to use Direct select and that was alot of the trouble but even then I'm not seeing how to select a single point and move it with the keyboard.  Sometimes I can just do it but then somehow lose the ability... Now there seems no way to move a single point with the keyboard.

             

            Direct select allows to move single points with the mouse.... but at times I can move them with keyboard... not sure what happens to make that not work suddenly.

             

            The smart guides part doesn't really help much... still difficult to see the points... you'd think just the act of selecting the pen tool would make points highly visible somehow.

             

            Using the pen tool in After Effects  seems a lot easier and much better control... but I'm not sure what the differences are.  One big one is the ability to drag a rectangle around a collection of points and move them with the keyboard

             

            The ability to select a collection of points by dragging a rectangl that includes them seems to be sorely lacking in Illustrator CS4, or am I just not using the right technique.\?

            • 3. Re: Better ways to work with the pen tool
              Jacob Bugge MVP & Adobe Community Professional

              Harry,

               

              The Direct Selection Tool is the one to use for moving Anchor Points after the path has been drawn. Always work on paths without anything selected when you start; this is one place where Smart Guides are your friends because they let you see highlights of what you may select.

               

              If you Click an Anchor Point, you will see that it is shown as a filled square; the other (non selected) Anchor Points are shown as hollow squares; you can select additional Anchor Points by ShiftClicking them.

               

              With the desired Anchor Point(s) chosen, you may ClickDrag (either of them), or use the Arrow keys, or Object>Transform>Move, to move it/them.

               

              You can also ClickDrag across the desired Anchor Point(s), starting from an empty spot with no fill (normally outside the path).

              • 4. Re: Better ways to work with the pen tool
                HarryPutnam Level 1

                Jacob Bugge wrote:

                 

                Harry,

                 

                The Direct Selection Tool is the one to use for moving Anchor Points after the path has been drawn. Always work on paths without anything selected when you start; this is one place where Smart Guides are your friends because they let you see highlights of what you may select.

                 

                If you Click an Anchor Point, you will see that it is shown as a filled square; the other (non selected) Anchor Points are shown as hollow squares; you can select additional Anchor Points by ShiftClicking them.

                 

                With the desired Anchor Point(s) chosen, you may ClickDrag (either of them), or use the Arrow keys, or Object>Transform>Move, to move it/them.

                 

                You can also ClickDrag across the desired Anchor Point(s), starting from an empty spot with no fill (normally outside the path).

                If I'm following you above... I do not see that behavior here.  I speaking particularly of your third and fourth points.

                 

                You are talking about doing point 3 and 4 with direct select right?


                To make it simple I'll just work with one point on a closed path  :... I first click on an empty part of art board, then click a single point.  At that point all the points light up and show there handles.  The clicked one is a solid red dot, the others are a hollow dot with red stroke.

                 

                Now according to what I got of your comments, I should be able to move that single selected point with the arrow keys.... but I cannot.

                 

                Far as point 4, same thing applies... It is good to know that I can select multiple points that way, but after selecting ... the keyboard arrows do nothing to the selected points.   But at least I can quickly pull mutiple points around with the mouse... so thanks for that bit.

                 

                Are you able to select a point on a closed path, and control it with arrow keys?

                 

                Is there some circumstance I may have initiated inadvertantly that would prevent the arrow keys moving points around.

                 

                I pretty sure there was while early on where I was moving individual points with keyboard but cannot get it to happen now.

                • 5. Re: Better ways to work with the pen tool
                  JETalmage Level 6
                  Just making them easily visible would probably be enough.

                   

                  Harry,

                   

                  Always state what version you are using.

                   

                  Assuming CS3 or CS4, go to Edit>Preferences>Selection&AnchorPointDisplay. Set the anchorPoint display size to the larger one offered and set Selection Tolerance to 3 or 4.

                   

                  JET

                  • 6. Re: Better ways to work with the pen tool
                    Jacob Bugge MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                    Harry,

                     

                    You are talking about doing point 3 and 4 with direct select right?

                    Right.

                     

                     

                    To make it simple I'll just work with one point on a closed path  :... I first click on an empty part of art board, then click a single point.  At that point all the points light up and show there handles.  The clicked one is a solid red dot, the others are a hollow dot with red stroke.

                    That shows correct selection of that Anchor Point.

                     

                     

                    Now according to what I got of your comments, I should be able to move that single selected point with the arrow keys.... but I cannot.

                     

                    Far as point 4, same thing applies... It is good to know that I can select multiple points that way, but after selecting ... the keyboard arrows do nothing to the selected points.   But at least I can quickly pull mutiple points around with the mouse... so thanks for that bit.

                    Both should work. See below.

                     

                     

                     

                    Are you able to select a point on a closed path, and control it with arrow keys?

                    I am.

                     

                    I believe there may be a preference corruption. You may try to use Ctrl+Alt+Shift/Cmd+Option+Shift during startup or to Move the folder

                    • 7. Re: Better ways to work with the pen tool
                      HarryPutnam Level 1

                      JETalmage wrote:

                       

                      Just making them easily visible would probably be enough.

                       

                      Harry,

                       

                      Always state what version you are using.

                       

                      Assuming CS3 or CS4, go to Edit>Preferences>Selection&AnchorPointDisplay. Set the anchorPoint display size to the larger one offered and set Selection Tolerance to 3 or 4.

                       

                      JET

                      Far as stating version ... from my 2nd post on the thread (sorry I didn't have it in the first):

                       

                      Harry wrote:

                      ". . . . . seems to be sorely lacking in Illustrator CS4, [...]"

                      (But point taken)

                       

                      That is really a usefull tip there... I can almost see the darn things now...

                       

                      I don't think they put much consideration into these tools for us old folks ... hehe.   Honestly, there should be a choice at least twice the size of the largest one there... but it was set to the tinyest one so going to the largest does make a noticable difference.   I suppose something larger probably has some other drawback I haven't considered so at least the largest size  helps quite a lot.

                      • 8. Re: Better ways to work with the pen tool
                        HarryPutnam Level 1

                        Jacob Bugge wrote:

                         

                        Harry,

                         

                        You are talking about doing point 3 and 4 with direct select right?

                        Right.

                         

                         

                        To make it simple I'll just work with one point on a closed path  :... I first click on an empty part of art board, then click a single point.  At that point all the points light up and show there handles.  The clicked one is a solid red dot, the others are a hollow dot with red stroke.

                        That shows correct selection of that Anchor Point.

                         

                         

                        Now according to what I got of your comments, I should be able to move that single selected point with the arrow keys.... but I cannot.

                         

                        Far as point 4, same thing applies... It is good to know that I can select multiple points that way, but after selecting ... the keyboard arrows do nothing to the selected points.   But at least I can quickly pull mutiple points around with the mouse... so thanks for that bit.

                        Both should work. See below.

                         

                         

                         

                        Are you able to select a point on a closed path, and control it with arrow keys?

                        I am.

                         

                        I believe there may be a preference corruption. You may try to use Ctrl+Alt+Shift/Cmd+Option+Shift during startup or to Move the folder

                        Very good info there... thanks a lot.  In this case even a simple restart has cured the problem

                        • 9. Re: Better ways to work with the pen tool
                          Jacob Bugge MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                          You are welcome, Harry.