Illustrator Pen Tool

There are many things you can do in Illustrator, but it can be agreed that two of the most vital tools that open other doors are the Pen Tool and Pathfinder tool.

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Draw with the Pen tool

Draw straight line segments with the Pen tool

The simplest path you can draw with the Pen tool is a straight line, which can be created from two anchor points on your artboard. By clicking, you can create anchor points, which the tool will the connect to form a line. If you click multiple times, creating multiple anchor points, the tool will create a path made of straight line segments connected by corner points.


  1. Select the Pen tool ().
  2. Position the Pen tool where you want the straight segment to begin, and click to define the first anchor point (do not drag).
    • The first segment you draw will not be visible until you click a second anchor point. 
    • If direction lines appear, you’ve accidentally dragged the Pen tool; choose Edit > Undo, and click again.
  3. Click again where you want the segment to end (Shift-click to constrain the angle of the segment to a multiple of 45°).
  4. Continue clicking to set anchor points for additional straight segments. The last anchor point you add always appears as a solid square, indicating that it is selected. Previously defined anchor points become hollow, and deselected, as you add more anchor points.
  5. Complete the path by doing one of the following:
    • To close the path, position the Pen tool over the first (hollow) anchor point. A small circle appears next to the Pen tool pointer  when it is positioned correctly. Click or drag to close the path.
    • To leave the path open, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (macOS) anywhere away from all objects.
    • To leave the path open, you can also press Esc, select a different tool, or choose Select > Deselect. You can also simply press Enter or Return to leave the path open.
Draw curves with the Pen tool

You can create a curve by adding an anchor point where a curve changes direction, and dragging the direction tangent lines that shape the curve. The length and slope of the tangent direction lines determine the shape of the curve.

Curves are easier to edit and your system can display and print them faster if you draw them using as few anchor points as possible. Using too many points can also introduce unwanted bumps in a curve. Instead, draw widely spaced anchor points, and practice shaping curves by adjusting the length and angles of the direction lines.

  1. Select the Pen tool.
  2. Position the Pen tool where you want the curve to begin, and hold down the mouse button. The first anchor point appears, and the Pen tool pointer changes to an arrowhead.
  3. Drag to set the slope of the curve segment you’re creating, and then release the mouse button. In general, extend the direction line about one third of the distance to the next anchor point you plan to draw. (You can adjust one or both sides of the direction line later.)
    • Hold down the Shift key to constrain the tool to multiples of 45°.
    • Drawing the first point in a curve
    • A. Positioning Pen tool B. Starting to drag (mouse button pressed) C. Dragging to extend direction lines
  4. Position the Pen tool where you want the curve segment to end, and do one of the following:
    • To create a C‑shaped curve, drag in a direction opposite to the previous direction line. Then release the mouse button.
    • To create an S‑shaped curve, drag in the same direction as the previous direction line. Then release the mouse button.

    • Note: Press CommandCtrl while dragging the handles of a smooth point, to make them inequal in length when you’re drawing a curve.
      A. Opposite handles are equal and paired B. Cmd/Ctrl pressed, opposite handles are unequal and paired. Drag unequal handles while drawing curves
  5. Continue dragging the Pen tool from different locations to create a series of smooth curves. Note that you are placing anchor points at the beginning and end of each curve, not at the tip of the curve.
  6. Keep in mind that the direction line determines the slope of your curve, the longer the line, the wider the arch. You can also change the orientation of the direction line to bend the curve in the orientation you need. Press and hold Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) and drag the direction line toward its opposing end to set the slope.

And there you go! Now go draw something beautiful! 🙂