The name Adobe Illustrator is kind of misleading sometimes. When you hear it you think “Hey, a software I can Illustrate with!” but that’s only one part of the puzzle. AI is essentially just vector shapes and fills. That’s IT. You can’t really just start drawing with shapes and fills. But you can draw in AI. It is possible. Though it’s not the drawing you’re thinking of right now. Never the less, I’m going to show you how to do it!
We’re going to use what’s called the Pen Tool. You can’t draw as you traditionally would with this tool. The Pen Tool is comprised of anchor points and paths. Illustrator allows you to piece those elements together to make vector shapes, objects, and illustrations. Confused yet? Let me walk you through it.
1. GRAB THE PEN TOOL
The Pen Tool is located on the tool panel on the left side of your workspace. Left column, third row down. Make sure that you’ve selected the pen tool itself and not the other tool options located in the alternate menu.
2. DECIDED WHAT TO DRAW
Since you’re brand new to this just pick any image of text you want. You can screenshot a quote or import some lettering you did (like me!). Blow the image up pretty big so you can see the intricate parts of the objects.
3. MAKE SURE YOUR FILL IS TURNED OFF
Turning off your fill helps you see where you’re drawing. If it’s not turned off you won’t be able to see if you’re drawing exactly what you see in the image. You can keep the fill off and turn the stroke a bright color so you can see where your paths are quickly.
4. MAKE YOUR ANCHOR POINTS
Take your pen tool and just click where you want to start your drawing. This makes a little dot which is called an anchor point. You can make as little or as many anchor points as you want.
PRO TIP: The more anchor points you have, the bigger the overall file size. That’s not necessarily a good thing. If your file gets to big it can start to lag or even be to big to export for your clients.
5. ADJUST HANDLES WHEN NEEDED
In order to make the curves you want, you will need to adjust the handles of your anchor points. This lets you manipulate your curve to exactly where you want it.
6. COMBINE YOUR START AND END POINTS
Once you think you’re almost done with your shape, make sure you CLOSE it. You do this by connecting your original starting anchor point with the very last one you make (end point). Now you can play around with fill colors and sizing because you’re done!
7. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
When you get better and better at using the Pen Tool you can just freehand draw with it. I use the pen tool for logos, icons, surface patterns and so much more. I usually draw my initial logo designs by hand and then pop them into AI and draw them as vectors with the pen tool!