Bezier Handles


Yesterday I read an article about managing Bezier-handles. The article can be found here. The image above is from that article. Nice article.

I’ll never forget the very first lesson I went to to learn drawing in Adobe Illustrator (or was it Freehand?). The tutor we had dug deep, very deep, into what Bezier handles were, how they worked, where they came from and how they functioned mathematically… It was extremely boring. I think we spent half a day with that. Definitely didn’t teach me how to draw in Illustrator. Illustrator (or was it Freehand?) was in its infancy at the time.

I’ve always drawn. On paper that is. Learning to manage Bezier handles to be able to do it in an application to me seemed very unnecessary. To me the pen tool in Illustrator/Freehand actually was pretty intuitive to use even without knowing anything about Bezier handles. To just draw it wasn’t all that important (to me at least) to know how to manage the handles. To trace an already existing object to make it into vectors is another thing. Then you need to know how to handle them and how they work.

I went to another lesson in Freehand (or was it Illustrator?) a couple of years later. That tutor was much better and even made me understand how to manage the Bezier-handles and how they worked. It wasn’t such a big mystery after all. The angle and the length of the handles is all it is about, and that you do not need all that many anchor-points to create a good shape.

Years later and several books and manuals about Illustrator and Freehand I taught the applications myself to new and more advanced users. But I never went into the deep mathematical secrets about Bezier-handles. That can scare anybody off. We had hands-on exercises that showed how they worked when you worked with them.  I even recorded a video-lesson about how to use Freehand (Macromedia Freehand by then) which was sold through a commercial company in Sweden. Freehand (which much later was bought by Adobe and discontinued) always was more flexible when it came to manage and handle bezier-curves compared to Illustrator. But Illustrator is slowly getting there. Nowadays I co-read the exercises for the Illustrator WOW! Book together with a group of people before each edition is published.


Here is yet another lesson in how to work with Illustrator’s  pen tool. There is a link to download a pen tools exercise in that article that can be useful if you want to learn how to use the pen tool and manage the bezier handles.

bezierhandlesThe above image is from the second article.


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