Where is the Pencil Tool in Adobe Illustrator & How to Use It

Whether you are an experienced illustrator or just starting, Adobe Illustrator offers such cool tools to help you elevate your design projects, including the Pencil tool – which allows you to sketch, create detailed visual elements, and have lots of control within your projects! 

In Adobe Illustrator, you can find the Pencil Tool in the Toolbar, or quickly activate it using the keyboard shortcut N. 

My name is Kerry and there was a time when I was in your shoes, learning new programs and tools that could elevate my design skills! 

In this article, I will show you how to use the Pencil Tool in Adobe Illustrator. Before getting started, it’s important to learn about the pencil settings.

Mastering the Pencil Tool’s Settings

If you are like me, even when I learn about a new tool’s existence, that does not necessarily mean that I know how to use it (or even remotely understand it.) To become a true sorcerer of the Pencil Tool, you must grasp its various settings! Let’s go over some of the basics so that you are not inhibited! 

Fidelity: The Fidelity setting determines how closely the Pencil Tool follows your cursor’s movements. A low Fidelity value results in smoother lines, while a higher value preserves the intricacies of your drawing. 

You can adjust this setting using the slider in the Control Panel or the options bar. Or double click on the Pencil tool to open this setting window.

Smoothness: This setting controls how Illustrator smooths out your paths. Higher values lead to more refined lines, while lower values retain the natural shakiness of your strokes, adding an organic touch to your artwork.

Edit Selected Paths: By default, the Pencil Tool creates new paths. However, by enabling the “Edit Selected Paths” option, you can add new segments to existing paths, facilitating seamless modifications to your artwork.

Tips for Harnessing the Pencil Tool’s Magic

Now that you’ve identified the artboard and saved your progress, let’s proceed to remove it from your Illustrator project. Follow these steps carefully to ensure a smooth execution:

Step 1: First things first, launch Adobe Illustrator and open the document where you want to unleash your creativity. On the left-hand toolbar, locate the Pencil tool (keyboard shortcut N).

Step 2: Adjust the Pencil Tool Options and you can customize the stroke’s weight, color, and opacity according to your preference. 

Tip: A thinner stroke is ideal for delicate linework, while a thicker stroke can bring emphasis and boldness to your artwork. Experiment with the opacity slider to add subtle shading or transparency for added depth.

Drawing freehand with the Pencil Tool may yield shaky or imprecise lines initially. But don’t worry – Illustrator’s got you covered! If you’re working on intricate details or need more control, increase the Fidelity slider to reduce the tool’s sensitivity.

Step 4: If you want the ability to edit paths even after you’ve drawn them, you can edit the anchor points to reshape the path.

In addition to the Pencil Tool, Illustrator offers a Smooth Tool that can refine and smooth rough edges or uneven curves in your artwork. Simply select the portion you wish to smooth, activate the Smooth Tool, and drag it along the path. 

If you want to erase part of your drawing, choose the Path Eraser Tool and draw directly on the area of the path you want to remove.

Final Thoughts

The quickest way to activate the Pencil Tool in Adobe Illustrator is using the N key, otherwise, you can find it on the toolbar along with other vector drawing tools like Smooth Tool and Shaper Tool. 

Any other tips for using the Pencil tool in Adobe Illustrator or more doubts? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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