Welcome to Skillcrush Design Snacks bite-sized demos about all things design! This video is all about the Pen tool. Let's get started!

Remember when we used two anchor points to create a straight line? And then created some Bezier curves? Welcome to the world of creating paths! (party music)

Today we will learn how to place anchor points in the RIGHT spots and refine those paths, so we can be Pen tool rockstars!

When using the Pen tool to trace a shape, the first thing I do is lock the layer I’m tracing and then create a new layer to make my vector shape on.

I turn off my fill and make sure I’m working with only a stroke on.

<[show color and fill panel]>

To do this, I select the fill box on the left and make sure the fill option is set to none, which looks like a little white box with a red line through it. See how much easier my path is to see while I trace?

To get a smooth-looking shape, I want to only place anchor points where there is a change in my path direction. Adding too many anchor points or placing an anchor point in the wrong place, and my shape can end up looking monstrous(scary noise)! I’m not going to worry about making my curves perfect at this stage, because I’ll go in and refine it later.

Once I have the anchor points in position, I’m going to close my path by placing my cursor over the first anchor point I placed. When I see the little circle icon appear, I know it's time to click to close the path! Closing paths is best practice for wonky-free shapes.

Now that I have a completed vector shape, I’m going to refine it to be closer to what I’m tracing.   

If I click and hold on the Pen tool, I’ll see a a flyout menu with several options. From top to bottom, I’m looking at the standard Pen tool, the Add Anchor Point tool, the Delete Anchor Point tool, and the Convert Anchor Point tool. Today, we’ll just be using the Convert Anchor Point tool.

The Convert Anchor Point tool (which looks like a little upside down “v”) is used to convert an anchor point from a sharp corner to a smooth curve. It’s also used to make adjustments to your curves so your squiggles curve just the way you want.  

To get this shape, I’ll need to use the Convert Anchor Point tool to move my handles independently of each other.

I’ll use a combination of the Direction Selection tool with the Convert Anchor Point tool to finish my design and get all the different path directions I want.  

Once I’m done making my shape, I can use the Swap Fill and Stroke button here <[show swap button]>to give me a filled in shape with no outline. Then I’ll select the color I want my final shape to be and voilà! I have the exact vector shape I was going for!

Thanks for joining us, and have fun using the Pen tool to make your own vector shapes!

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