image 1 | image 2 | image 3 | image 4
Objectives: Students learn to use Pen tool and edit vectors paths.
Essential questions:
1. What is a path?
2. What are path's components?
3. How do you edit paths?


Paths are vector-based (line) drawings. This means that you can stretch and re-shape a path and it will not lose detail.


Open image 1 in Illustrator

Most of the drawing and editing of paths can be done via the tools under the Pen tool icon in the Tools bar.

Click and hold the mouse button on this icon to bring up all the other tools:



Select the Pen tool.



Path is a line that connects two anchor points. It holds information about line properties: color, length, thickness, etc.

To draw a straight segment you need to place the start point and the end point - they are called anchor points.

Anchor points hold information about the path segment: straight ot curved.


There are two selection tools for paths:

Selection Tool - selects the entire path with all anchor points.

Direct Selection Tool - allows you to edit a path by selecting and (or) moving one or few anchor points, one or few segments of a path.


Select the image with Selection Tool

Lock it:

Object > Lock > Selection

(You are going to use this image as a template)

To draw a straight path AB:

click on A

click on B

After you finish a path - you need to end it:

Command (Ctrl) click outside the path.

Now you are ready to start a new path.

To change a path color: bring "stroke" swatch to front by clicking on it in the Tool box.

You can double-click on it to open a Color Picker window or use Swatches palette


If you don't have Swatches palette open, go to:

Window > Swatches

To open extra swatches palettes: Click on the drop-down button in the upper-right corner of the palette and Choose Basic CMYK


To change stroke properties (thickness, styles, etc) open Stroke palette:

Window > Stroke

This is what your path should look like.

Draw paths CD and EFGHI. Don't forget to end the paths (Command/Ctrl click)

Apply different color strokes to the paths.

By default - Fill color is white. You can change it to "no fill" or "gradient fill" option in the Tool box.

You can also change the Fill color by bringing Fill swatch to front and using Swatches palette or Color Picker window.

You need to select a path first.

Try it.

Even though the path is not a closed shape, the fill was applied. The closest sticking out anchor points were connected with straight lines (E and G; G and F).

The fill did not create extra paths between the points. It is still a zig-zag line, not a closed shape.


Draw a closed path JKL.

When you are closing a path (return to the start point), a small circle appears next to the cursor.

Choose a fill color.

Choose a stroke color.


Repeat the steps with the Star design.


Open image 2

Select and lock the image.

Drawing curves with the Pen tool requires some practice. Click on point A and drag up to the red dot. This is how to start a curve that will go up through the anchor point.

When you click and drag - you create an anchor point with direction lines.

Direction lines go in two directions.

Direction that you drag the direction line will be the direction the curve will go through this point.

Example: to set the curve to go up through point A - you drag the direction line up; to set the curve go down through point B - you drag the direction line down.

Finish the curve ABCD. Drag the direction lines to the red dots.

Don't forget to end the path (Command/Ctrl click). Use Direct Selection tool to see how you can edit the curves by moving the direction lines.

Draw the path EF

Note: The curve goes up through both anchor points.

To draw a circle:

Click and drag up from point G

Click and drag down from point H

Double-click on point G

Apply colors to Stroke and Fill.

Open image 3

Select and lock it.

Look at the curve to your left. Note that the curve goes down through point B; then it goes up through the same point B.

How is that possible? The answer is Corner Point!!!

By creating a corner point you stop one segment and start the next one fresh.


This is how you do it:

Click and drag up on A

Click and drag down on B

Return to point B - you will see a "corner symbol" next to the cursor. Option-click on it!

(clicking on B again will create a "Corner Anchor point" that stops the first segment and starts the next segment)

Click and drag up on B

Click and drag down on C

End path by Command/Ctrl clicking outside the path.

Apply a nice stroke color to the path.

Create a path DEFG.

Note that there are two corner points there!

Click on D (don't drag - the first segment is straight!)
Click on E (don't drag - this is the end point for the straight segment)
Option-Click and drag up on E (to start the curve up)
Click and drag down on F (to have the curve go down through F). Option-Click on F to cteate a corner point for the next straight segment.
Click on G (don't drag - it's a straight segment again!)

Apply a stroke color

Draw a path HIJK.

Apply a stroke color.

File > Save

Close the file.

Open image 4

Select and lock it.

Draw the path. (Click on first and last points only, skip red)

End it (Command/Ctrl click)

You are going to add an anchor point to this path.

Choose Add Anchor point Tool

Click in the red dot (on the path).

You just added a point to your path.

Grab the new point and drag it up.

When you add a point to a straight path - it will create a "straight path anchor point (no direction lines)


Delete the path



Draw a curve instead.

Click and drag the first point.

Click and drag the last point

End path.

Use Add Anchor pont tool to add a point as shown.

See? It's a point with "curve" properties.

Next path:  

Draw the next path (three anchot points).


You are going to delete one anchor point from the path.

Choose Delete Anchor Point Tool.

Click on the center (red) anchor point.

Now it's a straight line


Apply a color stroke color.

Use Pen tool to draw a Star.


You are going to convert corners into curves and curves into corners.

Choose Convert Point Tool.

Place the cursor over an anchor point.

Click and drag it.

You just converted the corner into a curve!

Repeat the steps with the rest of the corners and transform the star into flower.


You can apply some fill color.

To convert a curve back in a straight corner - click on the ancjor point with the Convert Point Tool.


File > Save.

Close the file.


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