About paths and the pen tool

The pen tool draws straight and curved lines called paths. A path is any contour or shape you draw using the pen, magnetic pen, or freeform pen tool. Of these tools, the pen tool draws paths with the greatest precision; the magnetic pen and freeform pen tools draw paths as if you were drawing with a pencil on paper.

Press P on the keyboard to select the pen tool. Pressing Shift+P repeatedly toggles between the pen and freeform pen tools. (In this lesson, you'll stay with the regular pen tool.)

Paths can be open or closed. Open paths have two distinct endpoints. Closed paths are continuous; for example, a circle is a closed path. The type of path you draw affects how it can be selected and adjusted.

Paths that have not been filled or stroked do not print when you print your artwork. (This is because paths are vector objects that contain no pixels, unlike the bitmap shapes drawn by the pencil and other painting tools.)

Before you start drawing, you'll configure the pen tool options and your work area in preparation for the procedures in this lesson.

1 In the toolbox, select the pen tool (i).

2 In the tool options bar, select or verify the following option settings:

• Click the arrow for Geometry Options and make sure that the Rubber Band check box is not selected in the Path Options pop-up palette.

• Make sure that the Auto Add/Delete option is selected.

A. Paths option B. Geometry Options menu C. Add to Path Area option

A. Paths option B. Geometry Options menu C. Add to Path Area option

3 Click the Paths palette tab to bring the palette to the front of the Layers palette group.

The Paths palette displays thumbnail previews of the paths you draw. Currently, the palette is empty because you haven't started drawing.

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