N.S.L: WEEK 135 – Illustrator CC: “Pencil Tool” Update

If you’re a Creative Cloud user, then you recently got an update for Adobe Illustrator CC 17.1. One of the tools that got updated was the Pencil Tool.

Pencil Tool Update
“Doodle Dudes”

I’ve been a heavy Pencil Tool user for a while and I had fun playing around with it, making the image above.

In my opinion, the main benefit to this update is, the ability to merge two separate open paths without a modifier.  I skimmed through several videos on the subject and I was surprised that not more people demonstrated this feature. 


With my video, I wanted to show off the features of the Pencil Tool that I like working with the most. You can do most of the same functions in Adobe Illustrator CS6 so I wasn’t really thinking of features as much as I was thinking workflow.


In the Preferences, they united the 2 sliders and made 1. This means less control, in my opinion, but I think it’s less intimidating to only see a single slider. I recommend planing around with the extremes of the slider, just to see what they do. If you need to, you can always reset it. The rest of the panel is the same but I should mentions that the “Within” slider preset was only for Editing Selected Paths but now it will also control the Auto-closing Paths feature I like so much. 


Merging Paths

If you have 2 open paths, you can join them by having them both selected and drawing from one point to the other without the need of a modifier key. You will see the cursor change to let you know the change is happening. In CS6 you could do this function by having both paths selected and holding down the Comm/Ctrl key. You will see your cursor make the same change.

Editing/Continuing Paths

In CC17.1 you will see a cursor to indicate you are about to continue a path. In CS6 you have the same function, but you do not get an annotation letting you know it is happening.

Auto Closing Paths

Imagine you’re drawing a circle. In CS6, you needed to hold down the alt key to close off your path as you were drawing. Now in CC 17.1, this is an automatic function. You do not need to hold down a modifier.

Drawing Constrained Segments

As far as I can tell, you could not do this in CS6. You had to cheat a bit by using the Alt/Option key to close off your path from a distance. That would result in a straight segment. The Pencil tool draws in free form strokes so it might come in handy to hold down the Alt/Option key when you need a straight segment. Then just release when you want to draw freely.


If you used the Pencil Tool a lot in your workflow prior to CC 17.1, you might miss a couple of your features. Holding down the Alt/Option key to switch to the Smooth Tool is a big one. If you used your sliders in the preferences, it’s going to take you a bit to get used to the new slider. My guess is, it will be a short learning curve.


I got all of my info from:

Adobe Illustrator Help



#AdobeGrind #StayMuddyGetFly #WacomWED
If you look up #NSL135 you should be able to follow my week, all of the videos I studied for this one, and other Tweets related to this post. Images looked best on FireFox when this post was created.


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