Day 4: Drawing with Pencil Tool

We can quickly draw shapes and lines quickly using the Pencil Tool. This lesson will show you some of the tricks in drawing smooth and fluid lines.

Drawing a Line

Select the pencil tool and click and drag to draw a free hand line drawing.

Closing Paths with Pencil Tool

To close a path, hold Alt/Option as your Pencil Tool reaches the start point. A circle icon will appear next to the Pencil Tool to indicate path closure.

Smoothing Jaggy Lines

Normally when you draw with the Pencil Tool, the path looks jaggy. To smoothen the parts that are jaggy, simply hold Alt/Option to turn the Pencil Tool to Smooth Tool. Then draw over the the area of the lines which you would like to smoothen.

Reshaping Path

To reshape a path, make sure your path is selected and use the Pencil Tool to redraw the parts you would like to reshape. Note that the start and end path must be close to the original path to make it work.

Pencil Tool Preferences

You can turn on the Pencil Tool Preferences by double clicking on the Pencil Tool. You can change the fidelity and smoothness to find a combination that works for you.

Fidelity: Determines how close the path is drawn to your mouse movement. Set it at a higher fidelity if your not good at drawing with your mouse.

Smoothness: The higher you set for smoothness, the less anchor point it produces. Thus, producing a smoother line.

Next Lesson: Drawing With Pen Tool »
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About The Author: Tony Soh

Hi. I'm the founder of Vector Diary. Illustrator is my passion and I have written numerous tutorials on illustrator helping people learn illustrator. My most popular tutorial on learn illustrator has been a hit. It makes learning illustrator so easy and has benefited more than 20,000 people worldwide. Also, I've revealed some of my secret techniques in the premium tutorials. So don't forget to check it out!

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  1. Gravtar for Webstandard-Team
    Webstandard-Team July 17th

    Simple, but very effective. Thx Tony!

  2. Gravtar for Nizam
    Nizam July 23rd

    Thanks very much for this tutorials. I learn much. thanks again. God bless you.

  3. Gravtar for Eli
    Eli July 31st

    Both links lead to the table of contents at the end of this article.

  4. Gravtar for ArtConch
    ArtConch August 6th

    Excellent lesson and very clear, I now feel lots more confident using the pencil, thank you so much

  5. Gravtar for G
    G August 8th

    thanks x the tutorials, u r really helping me trying to figure out Ilustrator

  6. Gravtar for Fareed
    Fareed September 13th

    i never understood Reshaping Path, can any one explain it!

  7. Gravtar for gB
    gB September 15th

    Thank you so much for your tutorials, I been trying to find a good one for a loooooooong time. Im just getting started with Graphic Design, coming into it from another field, so needless to say im clueless!

    You wouldnt believe how many sites out there say they have tutorials, and then when you get to it, they dont TELL you how to find the tools, on a basic level.

    Your tutorials are awesome!

  8. Gravtar for Kevin
    Kevin October 8th

    As Fareed mentioned, the reshaping part wasn’t clear but once you go to the Pencil Tool Preferences menu and select the ‘Edit selected paths’ option it works.

    Excellent tutorial, thanks.

  9. Gravtar for gibori
    gibori October 23rd

    Por fin alguien que puede explicar claramente como se utiliza el pencil tool.

  10. Gravtar for Dipika
    Dipika December 4th

    Simple but Excellent!!
    I requesting to you for others sorftwares tutorials (Flash, Dreamware, Photoshop) to post here.:)) Because your tutorial is very simple anyone can understand and lean lots.thank you somuch

  11. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary December 4th

    Hi Dipika, Yup sure.. New stuff will be coming out very soon.

  12. Gravtar for Dipika
    Dipika December 6th

    Really!!!! wow that’s great news. I’m so glad to know that.. let me know when you will be post new stuff. once again thak you so much may god bless you! ^_^

  13. Gravtar for Jothikumar
    Jothikumar March 28th

    Very much helpfull to learn illustrator

  14. Gravtar for sonda mvula
    sonda mvula May 7th

    Tony thanks for this tutorial, it is helping me to be more confident using illustrator now, concerning that am basically self tought. And now i can start on my on illustrations.
    THANKS AGAIN….My God richly bless you.
    p.s. is there any tutorials like this for photoshop?

  15. Gravtar for Zuana Vincent
    Zuana Vincent May 19th

    I will like to know about Kindergarten Books and even get a set to help Kindergarten Children

  16. Gravtar for rxdazn
    rxdazn June 3rd

    Awesome tutorials. Thank you a lot.

  17. Gravtar for nadia
    nadia December 28th

    very easy to learn tutorial…love it

  18. Gravtar for usman
    usman June 27th

    Wow! really good thx for tutorial its really easy to learn. great work

  19. Gravtar for Mbala
    Mbala June 28th

    Am loving these tutorials!! I had no idea about illustrator but am getting there. way to go!!

  20. Gravtar for matingting
    matingting July 1st

    wow!really good, thx very much

  21. Gravtar for MichaelV
    MichaelV November 29th

    DAY4: Freehand Drawing – wasn’t as bad as I thought – in fact, with a little help from illustrator, freehand drawing can end up being quite good. Love the fidelity and smoothness options – especially for someone like me. I always wondered how people could make their freehand lines so smooth or straight or whatever. Now I know. Bring on Day5…

  22. Gravtar for Venkat
    Venkat February 20th

    I love you!!!!1 thank you so so so so so so much…. this is so easy to understand!! God Bless!!!!! :):)

  23. Gravtar for Joy
    Joy March 20th

    Excellent tutorial,it is effective for all.

  24. Gravtar for prakash shinde
    prakash shinde May 23rd

    Excellent tutorial helpfull to learn illustrator very good i like this tutorial

  25. Gravtar for Njeri
    Njeri July 21st

    You are God sent!
    Thanks so much

  26. Gravtar for Abhishek Saxena
    Abhishek Saxena September 23rd

    Superb all looks so easy
    Thank you so much

  27. Gravtar for jinukumar
    jinukumar April 3rd

    nice post Tony, god bless you 🙂

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    TEST February 21st

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    piano lessons April 8th

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