Adobe Illustrator Tutorial using Pen Tool

In Adobe Illustrator by Jason Secrest


In this step by step Adobe Illustrator Pen Tool tutorial we will be going through a basic process on how to apply the pen tool and some different options if you are struggling. We go through a complete workflow using pen tool, width profiles, and the width tool. We will be doing some basic coloring with effects. We will add on flat color using Live Paint Bucket, Inner Glows and Drop Shadows to complete the step by step tutorial.


We are going through some different options for the pen tool. The few things to remember is to focus on getting down the anchors first. We have a lot of our tutorials that focus just on straight lines and placing anchors. The easy parts of the line are the start and end points which means you just have to look for changes in direction in the middle. Click and drag your mouse in the direction you want to go (slowly).


There are easy ways of approaching the pen tool. Start with straight lines and only look for changes in direction. Using your white arrow(A) select the point that look like they are curved and click on the smooth curves button. If your pen tool keeps adding a new anchor rather than a new line then make sure the line isn’t still selected. You will notice a + as you hover over the line if it thinks you want to add an anchor. Anchor Tool(Shift C) will reset and manually drag out each curve.


The width profiles cna be simplified by looking at the ends of each of your lines. If it is floating out in space then it signals a tapered end. If the end point bumps up against another line or shape, this is a good signal that it should be wide. Use the width tool to adjust the thickness in areas to support the character and light source.


Shape Builder

1. The shape builder tool is quite user friendly when you understand how it works. First, select all or the area you want to edit. Double check all of the shapes you are editing are selected. Click on Shape Builder or (Shift + M). Hold down Alt/Option Key to delete shapes. Hover over and click the shape to delete it while holding down alt/option. Zoom in to check for little stray areas.

Live Paint

3. Notice that the Live Paint Bucket (K) is in the same tool menu as Shape Builder. It will play out very similarly. Select all. Under Object- Scroll down to Live Paint – Make. Deselect by clicking on the artboard. Click on Your Live Paint Bucket tool (K) pick a color from your swatches. Hover over the area and click. You will see a red line highlight the area you are about to fill in. This will act just like the paint bucket or fill in Photoshop.

Inner Glow

2. Select the character. Double check you have Expanded the Live Paint. Next Ungroup until you can select individual shapes. It might be 2-3 times. Select the interior color shape we just created. Select Effect – Stylize – Inner Glow. Change the color mode to normal and the opacity to 100%. I picked white for the color and selected inside as my option before clicking on the preview tab. Adjust the size to .25. Click OK.

Drop Shadows

4. Do this on the bottom silhouette layer we added an offset path. I did unite all of the shapes on this layer in Pathfinder so it is just 1 silhouette shape we are adding a Drop Shadow to. Select the silhouette shape. Select Effect – Stylize – Drop Shadow. We want Multiply – A light blue color swatch. Opacity 25% X: .2 Y: 0.1 Blur: 0.1



I’m new to illustrator and i was looking for something give me a good start. your videos are the best i seen and i have learned a lot! i look forward to watching them all! Thank you very much!!Jesse Gomez • 5 months ago
I been using photoshop, premiere, after effects since I was 13. I could always figure it out. I’ve moved to illustrator and couldn’t figure out how to just draw and fill I’ve been confused for months looking up tutorials. Thank you for this lol this is going to be my new workflow. New subscriber fo shoooooo!ColeG • 3 weeks ago
Nice,nice,nice… I am your fan. And I appreciate your tutorials and your help.Martha Milena Correal Chitiva • 1 year ago (edited)
Love your Tutorials!!! Coming back to the basics always helps me find new ideas!Edward Larson • 1 year ago
wow amazing. you are a great tutor. Followed this tutorial and it came out pretty good even for someone who has never used Adobe Illustrator! Pranitha • 6 months ago
Adobe Newb here! Thanks sooooooo much for this tutorial. I’m subscribing immediately! Darius Yates • 4 months ago
Just discovered your stuff, and all I can say is: Wow.
This may well be the most informative Illustrator teaching that I’ve ever seen. Many thanks.Steve Kobb • 5 months ago
Sorta intermediate Illustrator user but after your videos I know I’ll be able to flow much better! Thanks for putting these out there and sharing your knowledge! Innthee Aroonsuck • 1 month ago
Thank you! I have a basic understanding of illustrator but I hadn’t used it in awhile so this is a good refresher and also learned some new things too !Esrael Rosales • 1 year ago
Looks great. I got a wacom tablet and checked already many videos to learn usage but yours is looking the best. Thx, will try it nowEla İmre • 6 months ago
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Best illustrator tutorial for beginners thanks a lot ?ov chandu • 1 year ago
I have completed my very first Adobe Illustrator lesson. Thousand thanks for your great videos 🙂Dino Nguyen • 1 month ago
I just received the Adobe creative cloud and a digital art tablet and found your tutorials. Thank you so much for going slow, I was able to follow the whole process and learned a lot! Keep the videos coming 🙂Nicole Peacock • 7 months ago