Deke’s Techniques: Drawing with the Reshape tool in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke uses the Reshape tool—an older, more obscure Illustrator feature—in an unexpected way to create a fresh, swirly typographic 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. If you’re not a wiz with the Pen tool, don’t be scared—just make a crazy polygonal not-quite-letter-Z to create the anchor points. Then using the Reshape tool, drag out each segment until you get the curves you seek. (Members of can download the accompanying exercise file and use Deke’s S as a tracing template.)

There’s 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, either. The Reshape tool will supply the curves and the Object > Path > Simplify command will reduce the number of anchor points to smooth out the lumps (since your valentine won’t appreciate lumps). Add a white stroke to your path, and if you’re using Illustrator CS5, use the Width tool to add some weight to your sweetness. The result will be this Valentine-worthy letter S:

Letter created with the Illustrator Reshape tool

For members of the Online Training Library®, Deke takes this technique to the next step to show you how to create a hand-drawn letter effect that will help you add the “weet” to your swirling “Sweet” by manipulating existing type definitions.

Interested in more?
• the entire collection of Deke’s Techniques on
• All Illustrator courses on
• All courses by Deke McClelland on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Up and Running with Illustrator
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
• Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

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