I am sure that at all the early stages of learning Adobe Illustrator, each person came to the same question: “Where to place points when creating a path in order for the line to be smooth and easy to edit?”. Designers can do it intuitively based on years of experience, while others invent different methods and tricks. Is it possible to make this process automatic? I would say: “Yes”. In this article you will learn how to do it using the Dynamic Sketch Tool.
The Dynamic Sketch Tool is used to create artwork more naturally, so let’s compare it with the Paintbrush Tool (B), a standard tool in Adobe Illustrator which is also intended for the same purpose. The Paintbrush Tool (B) and Calligraphic Brush settings are shown in the figure below.
Now take the Dynamic Sketch Tool, open the Dynamic Sketch paneland select the tool.
Open the Dynamic Sketch Preferences dialog window — double click on the tool’s toolbox icon or select the appropriate item in the fly-out menu of the Dynamic Sketch panel or press Enter when in the tool. Now ensure the option “Create Points at Tangencies” is ticked and click on the OK button.
This option allows you to create points automatically only at tangencies (determined by the Illustrator Constrain Angle preference, or VectorScribe’s Protractor tool) where possible. For the experiment I will be using a pencil sketch that was kindly provided by Catherine Dedova. First try the Paintbrush Tool (B); take the stylus and create a path of variable thickness.
As we can see the created path consists of 7 points that are located at random locations (I personally do not know what rule is used by Illustrator to position them)/ Note that the path is not perfectly smooth, which means it needs to be further edited. Such an amount of points makes it more difficult to edit, and probably more likely that some of them will have to be removed.
Now try the Dynamic Sketch Tool. Create this type of path:
In this case the path consists of four points only which are located at tangencies. The path looks quite smooth, but even if you need to edit it, it will be much easier than in the case with the Paintbrush Tool.
There are several methods of how to properly locate the points. You can place points where the line bends, you can use “The Clockwork Method” championed by a great illustrator Von Glitschka. However, these methods require effort and, at the very least, you should know about their existence!
Create Points at Tangencies is one of the methods that will locate the points properly, without any additional effort and requiring no special experience. All you have to do is enable the “Create Points at Tangencies” option in the Dynamic Sketch Preferences dialog window.
About the author
My name is Iaroslav Lazunov, I am a graphic designer from Zhytomyr, Ukraine. I am glad that I finally found the job in my life that I can share my knowledge and experiments with you in my tutorials.