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Getting started

The first part of this lesson involves manipulating the Pen tool on a blank artboard.

To ensure that the tools and palettes function exactly as described in this lesson, delete or deactivate (by renaming) the Adobe Illustrator CS2 preferences file. See “Restoring default preferences” on page 3.

Open the file named L4strt_01.ai from the Lesson04 folder, located inside the Lessons folder within the AICIB folder on your hard drive. The top portion of the artboard shows the path that you will create. Use the bottom half of the page for this exercise.

Choose File > Save As. In the Save As window, navigate to the Lesson04 folder and open it. Type path1.ai in the File name text field. In the Save as Type drop-down menu, choose Adobe Illustrator (.AI). In the Illustrator Options window, leave the default settings and choose OK.

Use Ctrl+0 (zero) (Windows) or Command+0 (Mac OS) to fit the entire page into the window and then close all the palettes, except for the tools, by clicking their Close boxes or by holding down Shift and pressing Tab once. You won’t need to use them for this lesson.

Select the Pen tool (). Notice that when the Pen has not yet placed its first point, an “x” appears to the right of the pen icon. This indicates that you are starting a new path. Click and release once in the bottom work area. Then, move the mouse away from the original anchor point, the “x” no longer appears.


If instead of the pen icon, you see a crosshair, the Caps Lock key is active. Caps Lock On turns tool icons into crosshairs for increased precision.

Move the mouse to the right of the original point, and click once to create the next anchor point in the path.


The first segment you draw will not be visible until you click a second anchor point. Also, if direction handles appear, you have accidentally dragged with the Pen tool; choose Edit > Undo, and click again. (Direction handles are used to reshapes curved paths, but do not print.)

The first point connects to the new anchor point. Click back under the initial anchor point to create a zigzag pattern. Your zigzag is complete when it has a total of six anchor points.

Click and release from point to point to create the zigzag.

Choose the Selection tool (). One of the many benefits of using the Pen tool is that you can create custom paths and continue to edit the anchor points that make up the path. Next, see how the Selection tools relate to the Pen tool.

Using the Selection tool, click on the zigzag path and note how all the anchor points become solid, signifying that all anchor points are selected. Click and drag the path to a new location anywhere on the artboard, and notice that all the anchor points travel together, maintaining the zigzag path.

Deselect the zigzag path any of these four ways:

  • Use the Selection tool and click on an empty section of the artboard.

  • Use Select > Deselect from the menu.

  • While on the Pen tool, hold down the Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) key and click to deselect; this temporarily gives you the Selection tool. When the Control or Command key is released, you return to the Pen tool.

  • Click once on the Pen tool. Even though it looks like the path is still active, it will not connect to the next anchor point created.

Choose the Direct Selection tool () and click on any one point in the zigzag. Clicking and dragging a marquee selection around an anchor point with the Direct Selection tool can make selecting individual anchor points easier. The selected anchor point turns solid, the unselected anchor points are hollow.

Only the active point appears solid.

With the anchor point selected, click and drag to reposition the anchor point. The anchor point is moving but the others are stationary. Use this technique to edit a path.

At times you will need to recreate just one line segment in a path. Choose Select > Deselect, then with the Direct Selection tool, click on any line segment that is between two anchor points and choose Edit > Cut.

Select a segment of a path.

Return to the Pen tool and position the cursor over one of the anchor points that was connected to the line segment. Note that the pen icon has a forward slash (/) to the right of it, signifying a continuation of an existing path. Click and release the mouse.

Position the cursor over the other point that was connected to the original line segment. An icon of a circle with a line through it () appears. This signifies that you are connecting to another path. Click the point to reconnect the paths.

Reconnect the paths.

Choose File > Save and then File > Close this file.

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