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Lesson 4. Drawing with the Pen Tool > Drawing straight lines

Drawing straight lines

You draw straight lines by using the pen tool to create a starting anchor point and an ending anchor point. You can create straight lines that are vertical, horizontal, or diagonal by holding down Shift as you click with the pen tool. This is called constraining the line.

We've created a template layer in this file so you can practice using the pen tool by tracing over the template. (See Lesson 10, "Working with Layers," for information on creating layers.)

You'll begin by drawing the straight line for the arrow.

Choose View > Straight Line to zoom into the left corner of the template.

Separate views that show different areas of the template at a higher magnification were created for this document and added to the View menu.

To create a custom view, choose View > New View. For information, see "Viewing artwork" in online Help or Chapter 1 in the Adobe Illustrator User Guide.

Choose View > Hide Bounding Box to hide the bounding boxes of selected objects. Select the pen tool ( ) in the toolbox, and move the pointer to the dashed line in the artwork. Notice that the pen tool pointer has a small x next to it. This indicates that clicking will begin a new path.

Click point A at the left end of the line to create the starting anchor point—a small solid square.

Click point B at the right end of the line to create the ending anchor point.

Figure . Click once to begin a straight line.

Figure . Click again to end it.

When you click a second time, a caret (^) appears next to the pen tool. The caret indicates that you can split the anchor point to create a direction line for a curve by dragging the pen tool from this anchor point. The caret disappears when you move the pen tool away from the anchor point.

You must end the path before you can draw other lines that aren't connected to the path.

End the path using one of the following methods:

  • Hold down Ctrl (Window) or Command (Mac OS) to activate the current selection tool, and click away from the path to deselect it.

  • Choose Edit > Deselect All.

  • Click the pen tool in the toolbox.

Now you'll make the straight line thicker by changing its stroke weight.

Select the selection tool ( ) in the toolbox, and click the straight line to select it.

Choose Window > Show Stroke to display the Stroke palette.

In the Stroke palette, type 3 points in the Weight text box and press Enter or Return to apply the change.

Splitting a path

To continue creating the arrow for this illustration, you'll split the path of the straight line using the scissors tool and adjust the segments.

With the straight line still selected, select the scissors tool ( ) in the toolbox and click in the middle of the line to make a cut.

Cuts made with the scissors tool must be on a line or a curve rather than on an endpoint.

Where you click, you see a new selected anchor point. The scissors tool actually creates two anchor points each time you click, but because they are on top of each other, you can see only one.

Select the direct-selection tool ( ) in the toolbox, and position it over the cut. The small hollow square on the pointer indicates that it's over the anchor point. Select the new anchor point, and drag it up to widen the gap between the two split segments.

Figure . Click with the scissors tool to cut the line.

Figure . Drag to separate the new line segments.

Adding arrowheads

Adobe Illustrator lets you add premade arrowheads and tails to open paths by applying a Stylize filter. Now you'll add an arrowhead to the ending point of one line segment and a tail to the starting point of the other line segment.

With the top line segment selected, choose Filter > Stylize > Add Arrowheads.


Note: Choose the top Filter > Stylize command. The second Filter > Stylize command applies painted or impressionistic effects to bitmap images.

In the Add Arrowheads dialog box, leave the Start section set to None. For the end, click an arrow button to select the number 2 style of arrowhead (a thumbnail preview appears in the dialog box), and click OK.

Illustrator adds the arrowhead to the end of the line (the last anchor point created on the uncut line).

Using the direct-selection tool ( ), select the bottom line segment, and choose Filter > Add Arrowheads to open the dialog box again. Select the number 18 style of arrowhead from the Start section, select None for the End section, and click OK to add a tail to the starting point of the line.

Figure .

You can reapply the same arrowhead style to other selected objects by choosing Filter > Apply Add Arrowhead.

Choose Edit > Deselect All to deselect the artwork, and then choose File > Save.

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