Happy Valentine’s Day.
In honor of the occasion, I’ve come up with a tasty red candy of a technique, based on a tragically misunderstood Illustrator feature called the Reshape tool. It’s a kind of boy finds tool, boy loses tool, but gets tool back kinda movie.
Here’s the official description from lynda.com:
In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke uses an old, obscure, and possibly unloved feature in Illustrator in an unexpected way to create a fresh, swirly curve for your last-minute Valentine (or whatever other occasion you may have to make sweet swirls). You start with the Pen tool to rough in your letter S. Seriously, you don’t need to be a whiz with the Pen tool, just make a crazy polygonal not-quite-backward-letter-Z. Then armed with the Reshape tool, you’ll drag out each segment until you get the curves you seek. (Members of lynda.com can download the accompanying exercise file and use Deke’s S as a tracing template.)
No need to figure out your control handle curves with the Pen tool or try to join spirals created by the aptly named Spiral tool. The Reshape tool supplies the curves. The Path > Simplify command smooths out the lumps. (Your valentine won’t appreciate lumps.) Deke shows you how to sweetly seduce your S into shape. Stroke the path, add a little Width tool sweetness (if you have Illustrator CS5), and the result is this Valentine-worthy letter S:
For members of the lynda.com Online Training Library, Deke offers another movie, “Hand-Drawing a Really Great Letter,” in which he shows you how to create the “weet” in Sweet by manipulating existing type definitions.
The Reshape tool. It’ll reshape your heart. (Aw!)