Jakubs | November 4, 2022

How to draw free hand shapes in Illustrator?

Would you like to know how to draw free hand shapes in Illustrator? Drawing on a computer differs slightly from drawing by hand on paper. Is it now more challenging? No, not always. Software makes drawing lines more simpler, but I have to admit that conventional sketching is much simpler when it comes to shading and fine details.

On the other side, you could argue that digital drawing is simpler because Adobe Illustrator has so many clever tools that you can utilise to create any type of drawing.

You'll discover how to use several tools in Adobe Illustrator in this post. I'll demonstrate the tools on the same drawing so you can see what each one is capable of. In all honesty, I always draw with a variety of tools.

Let's look at a sketch of this image as an example. The outline can be created with the pen or pencil tool, and the details can be added with the brush tool. If exact outlines are not necessary, you can finish the design by using only the brushes.

To make the sketching lines and strokes easier to notice, I reduced the image's opacity.

Let's begin using the pen tool.

Using the Pen Tool to Draw

If you wish to draw precise outlines, the pen tool is perfect for tracing a design in addition to making paths and lines from scratch. To trace the flowers, adhere to the methods listed below.

First, choose a stroke colour and the Pen Tool (P) from the toolbar. Next, set the fill colour to none. Your pen tool pathways will be visible in the stroke colour.

Now choose what to trace first because that will be the location of the pen tool path's starting point. Consider that you are beginning with the flower, and then draw the petals one by one.

Step 2: To add the first anchor point, click on the edge of a petal. Anywhere on the petal may serve as the anchor point. The goal is to use the pen tool to sketch the contour of the petals.

To create a new anchor point and draw a curved line that fits the curvature of the petal, click and hold the edge of the flower once again.

As you add anchor points along the petal, stop the path by pressing the Return or Enter key on your computer when you reach the end of the petal.

To finish the petals, follow the same procedure.

The next step is to style the paths, which are actually strokes because, as you can see, the lines and paths don't look very convincing.

Step 3: Choose the paths created by the pen tool, then select the Stroke option in the Properties > Appearance panel.

Change the weight and profile of the stroke.

I think it looks better now. As an alternative, you can also add brush strokes to the route of your pen tool.

Now you can use the same method to trace the rest of the image to create a drawing or try the other tools below.

How to Draw Using the Pencil Tool

When someone mentions sketching, a pencil might be the first thing that comes to mind. But the Adobe Illustrator Pencil Tool isn't exactly like the pencil we actually use. When you use the Pencil Tool in Adobe Illustrator to sketch, it generates editable pathways with anchor points.

Beginning users may find it confusing because if you mistakenly update certain anchor points when drawing via an existing path, the contour or lines may completely change.

The pencil tool is simple to comprehend and use aside from that.

Start drawing by selecting the Pencil Tool from the toolbar or activating it with the N key.

When you draw, pencil paths would like this. As with the pen tool method described above, you may also alter the stroke weight and profile.

The Brush Tool, the following drawing tool, is perhaps the greatest for drawing by hand in Adobe Illustrator.

Using the Brush Tool in Drawing

Since the brush tool is more adaptable than the pencil and offers a wider variety of stroke options, I favor it for freehand sketches and drawings.

While drawing with the brush tool is fairly similar to drawing with the pencil tool, there are many brush kinds, and when you draw, it doesn't automatically establish anchor points or cause your strokes to accidentally change their form. See how it functions.

Step 1: Select Window > Brushes from the top menu to launch the Brushes panel.

Step 2: From the toolbar, select the Paintbrush tool (B) and a brush type from the Brushes panel.

To find more brushes, open the Brush Libraries menu.

Step 3: Begin your drawing. Normally, I would start by sketching the outline. It would be quite challenging to create steady lines without a graphic tablet.

As you sketch, you can change the brush size. To raise or decrease the brush size, press the left and right bracket keys, respectively.

Use the Eraser Tool to erase any strokes you want to get rid of.

To fill in colors, you can also use other artistic brushes, such as watercolor brushes.


Here are some other drawing fundamentals that you might find interesting.

How can I create artwork in Adobe Illustrator without a tablet computer?

Without a graphic tablet, drawing vector shapes is simple. As an alternative, you can draw shapes with a trackpad or mouse with the Pen Tool. It's really difficult to produce freehand-style drawings without a graphic tablet, though.

How can I use a mouse to sketch in Adobe Illustrator?

It is entirely possible to draw shapes or trace an image with a mouse. Select a simple shape tool, like the rectangle or ellipse, and drag the mouse to create the desired form. Using the Shape Builder or Pathfinder, you can also combine shapes.

In Adobe Illustrator, how do you make a line?

To draw lines, you can employ the Pen Tool, Brush Tool, Line Segment tool, or Pencil tool. Holding down the Shift key when drawing will ensure a straight line. Using the drawing tools, the Curve Tool, or the transform tools will allow you to design curved lines.

In Adobe Illustrator, how do you draw a heart?

Although there are other ways to create various types of hearts, using the Anchor Point Tool to alter a square is the simplest method. Use a brush or pencil to create a heart in the freehand fashion.

A Conclusion

The drawing tools in Adobe Illustrator are numerous. The most popular tools are the three that I covered in this article. The pencil works well for drawing lines and forms in a freeform manner. The paintbrush is the preferred tool for freehand drawings, whereas the pen tool performs best for tracing outlines.