The Pencil Tool in Adobe Illustrator

The Pencil Tool in Adobe Illustrator

The Pencil Tool in Adobe Illustrator

The Pencil Tool is a great alternative to the Pen Tool, because its use is much simpler and dynamic, that allow us to draw freehand vector shapes!

However, the Pencil Tool comes with a few drawbacks that we should not ignore… It provides much less control and precision than the Pen Tool in the shape and construction of our vector shapes, and the resulting strokes are much messier and disorganized; with a higher number of nodes and anchors…

 

The Pencil Tool

The Pen Tool allows us to draw vector shapes freehand, making the process of vector illustrating much easier, faster and creative.

To work with this tool, it is often required the use of a Pen Tablet (such as Wacom); because the level of control we have when using the Pencil Tool with the mouse is very limited, in comparison of when we use the Pen Tool.

There are three types of tool gathered under the icon of the Pencil Tool. These tools are the Pencil Tool, the Smooth Tool and the Path Eraser Tool

There are three types of tool gathered under the icon of the Pencil Tool. These tools are the Pencil Tool, the Smooth Tool and the Path Eraser Tool

Same as the Pen Tool, the Pencil Tool can add color to the fill and the contour of its vector strokes  [1]

The biggest pro of using the Pencil Tool is the organic quality of the freehand strokes; that create a much warmer and artistic result than the cold, calculated strokes made with the Pen Tool.

Its major con, is that the resulting strokes will be less accurate than the Pen’s; providing with a higher number of nodes and anchors, that create bigger file sizes and uneven vector shapes.

The Pencil Tool allow us to create freehand vectors, but they are less precise and have a higher number of nodes and anchors

The Pencil Tool allow us to create freehand vectors, but they are less precise and have a higher number of nodes and anchors.

We can play with the tool’s options, and adjust the tolerance and fidelity that the strokes will present when drawn freehand. These options can dramatically improve the smoothness of the strokes, as well as reduce the number of anchor points. However, if we set the settings too high, the smoothing effect might become so strong that it will cause us to lose control over the shapes we create [2]

To fix these problems, we can use the wonderful Smooth Tool; that can be found under the icon of the Pencil when we click and hold for a few seconds.

The Smooth Tool allow us to optimize any vector stroke by simply brushing over the drawn vector. It is great for reducing the number of anchor points without losing the overall shape, and for smoothing bezier curves that might not be too dynamic [3]

 

WATCH THE VIDEO (SPANISH AUDIO)

In this video I show you how to use the Pencil Tool and explore all its options. Unfortunately, the audio is only available in Spanish. If you feel up to it, you can give it a try!

 

 

COMING UP NEXT!

In the following post we will check all the options of the Brush Tool, and we will compare it with the Pencil and the Pen.

Check it out!

 

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Sara
Sara Martull
sara.martull@gmail.com

I am a 3D artist. I like making 3D illustrations, modeling and rigging characters and watching hundreds of movies and TV shows.

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