How to Draw in Adobe Illustrator

There's more than one way to draw a cat.
Ash Ash (362)

Drawing in Illustrator is a broad concept. There are so many tools available that you can use to create graphics, the best we can do is recommend a few basic ones to help you get started.

Adobe IllustratorAdobe Illustrator ×1

Howchoo is reader-supported. As an Amazon Associate, we may earn a small affiliate commission at no cost to you when you buy through our links.

Paintbrush Tool

The Paintbrush Tool has an icon that resembles a paintbrush. It's an excellent choice for freehand drawing in Illustrator.

The brush shape and size can be adjusted as well as how much it automatically smooths when drawing. There are tons of settings to optimize with the brush, making it one of the most versatile assets in your Illustrator arsenal.

Best for

  • Free-hand drawing
  • Anything that needs a human touch
Illustrator Pen Tool

The Pen Tool is perfect for drawing your creations slowly and with intention. It has an icon that resembles an ink pen nib. Points can be dropped while anchors are used to manually adjust the curve and placement of each line.

The Pen Tool is perfect for creating scalable vector art or .svg files. This definitely isn't recommended for freehand drawing but is more ideal for tracing an image in Illustrator and inking sketches.

Best for

  • Scalable vector art
  • Tracing images
  • Precision drawing
Line Segment Tool

The Line Segment tools are like the Pen Tool but with a little different behavior.

Types of categories

There are two major categories: curved and straight. They have icons that resemble a straight or curvy line. These tools are great for making quick features like straight lines but are not as useful for constructing full-sized illustrations.

Still, they are worth mentioning so you can recognize the options you have outside of the Pen Tool. Try to familiarize yourself with other tools to avoid becoming stagnant. This flexibility will show in your art and design over time.

Best for

  • Creating straight or curved lines
  • Quick line making
Illustrator Shape Tools

Shape Tools are great for making basic shapes in little time. The icons resemble various shapes. From quadrilaterals to stars, all you need to do is pick your shape then drag and drop it to size.

The line, fill, and color can all be adjusted prior to creating the shape as well as edited after. Experiment with the settings to get an idea of what variations you can create with just simple shapes.

Best for

  • Making basic shapes
  • Editing basic shapes
  • Layering shapes for effect

Note that you have multiple options for making triangles in Illustrator.

In general, Illustrator is similar to many commercial illustrating applications. Files can be saved as .ai to preserve your project and all of its layers or exported to final images.

  • Take advantage of layers when illustrating to organize your artwork.
  • Experiment with brush sizes and line settings.
  • Look for tutorials that explain more uses and features of the various Illustrator tools. See how different artists go about creating what you want to create, there are often many methods for doing the same thing and one might be easier or more appealing.
Want to knit, but you don't know where to start? Try these 7 tips for beginners!

Knitting is one of the most calming and gratifying hobbies I have. I started knitting a few years ago and quickly fell in love with it. It's an incredibly soothing, steady, and consistent process.