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Old Sep 3, 2006, 05:58 PM   #1
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Ugly curves in Illustrator

I'm trying to learn how to draw using the pen tool in Illustrator. I've been practicing by taking type and converting it to outlines to see how the shapes of the letters were made. The problem is, I can't seem to copy what I see. Whenever I try to draw a curve of a letter--such as the the curve made by a serif-- I can't seem to replicate it without it looking lumpy or pointy. By this I mean that I end up with two curves connected with a corner point in the middle, or two points forming an s-curve.
Nothing I try seems to help. I've tried converting the point by waiting for the carrot and then clicking on the point. But then when I click my next point, the point before that has become a corner point. I've tried everything I can think of. Is there any way to draw complex curves in Illustrator without them looking so awful?
I've printed my letter shapes out and if you look closely you can see where the corner points are. All I want is a nice smooth curve. No points, no s-curves. Just one continuous curve. It seems like the only time you can get a continous curve is when you make some kind of ellipse. That's the only time Illustrator allows you to do curves without turning things all pointy and s-shaped.
It's so hard to describe what my problem is, but I hope it makes sense to somebody. Thanks to anyone who can help.
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Old Sep 3, 2006, 05:59 PM   #2
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Not hard to describe at all - the pen tool is an art form unto itself.
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Old Sep 3, 2006, 06:21 PM   #3
Blue Velvet
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The fewer points the better if it's smooth you're after.

The proper way to draw curves in Illustrator is by using the Alt key with the pen tool... according to my once-tutor, Vicki Loader who is (or once was) on the Adobe Illustrator beta team.

There are a number of small tutorials online; here's one of them.

The best way to practice is to import an image onto a bottom layer and then practice drawing around the edges of shapes, holding down, dragging and using the Alt key to manipulate the handles as you go.

Also, check this thread. Some good links therein.

The classic Adobe-supplied shape to practice on is the half-eaten pear (see below). It's in the Adobe Illustrator Classroom In A Book. I can also recommend the Illustrator Wow! book as well.

Good luck and practice makes perfect.

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Old Sep 3, 2006, 06:35 PM   #4
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Alt/option key

Hi Blue Velvet:

Yes, holding down the option/alt key does help a bit to hide the corner points and s-curves.
But when I print one of my letter shapes, I can see where all the little corner points and s-curves are. You do have to look closely to notice them, but they are there. I don't think the option key will work. Eventually someone will notice my ugly curves and realize I don't know what the heck I'm doing.
Thanks for your help, BV.
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