Following the Path
How to use the Pen Tool to create basic paths or trace an image.
When to use
Creating a path with the Pen Tool is very useful for tasks such as tracing a drawing or a photograph as well as creating shapes from scratch.
- Download the image of the peppers for free from Pexels (https://static.pexels.com/photos/57426/paprika-vegetables-colorful-food-57426.jpeg)
- Open the Following the Path - Exercise.ai file and then open the image of the peppers.
- Press Command/Ctrl + X to cut the image, and then in your Illustrator file press Command/Ctrl + V to paste it.
- Hold down the Shift Key and drag inwards from any of the four corners to scale the image down proportionaly so that it fits within the artboard.
- If your image still isn't an exact fit, select the artboard and then go to the Object Menu and choose Artboards > Fit to Artwork Bounds.
- Once your image is fitting nicely in the artboard you can open your Layers Panel and rename the layer to 'Peppers'.
- Double click to the right of the layer name and from the dialog box that appears, choose the option that says 'Dim Images to 50%' and press OK to apply the changes.
- Click on the small lock icon next to the eyeball of the pepper layer to make sure that it's locked.
- Create a new layer above this layer and name it 'Contour' before switching over to the Pen Tool (P).
- Click to create your first point with the pen and make sure that you have a black stroke with no fill selected for your colors.
- Click and hold to create the next point and try to follow the curve of the peppers in the image.
- Repeat this until you have traced all the way around the first pepper and close the shape.
- Do this again for the remaining two peppers.
- If you are having trouble following a shape while tracing, make sure that Snap To Grid and Snap To Pixels are both unchecked under the View Menu.
- The Pen Tool is one of the most useful and powerful tools in Adobe Illustrator. You can create very detailed illustrations or logos with a seemingly unlimited number of layers that will be placed on top of one another.
- If you are feeling adventurous go ahead and try tracing over some of the more detailed shapes and areas inside of the peppers on a new layer above the 'Contour' layer containing your outlines.
Lesson notes are only available for subscribers.