Skip to main content

Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners

Lesson 13 of 34

The Pen Tool: Handles and Anchor Points


Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners

Lesson 13 of 34

The Pen Tool: Handles and Anchor Points


Lesson Info

The Pen Tool: Handles and Anchor Points

And I told you the difference between a Selection Tool and the Direct Selection Tool is it works with the frame and the Selection Tool. Or the Direct Selection Tool works with the content of that frame. Now I don't actually have anything in here. But part of what makes up the frame are those points and those segments in between. So when I switch to the Direct Selection Tool, I now can see those points again that I saw as I was drawing. I can now see them here. Whether they're smooth or they're hard corner points, they're here for me. And now I can actually work with them. It's a little tricky sometimes though. If I select the Direct Selection Tool and start moving, I may end up moving the whole item, which is not what I wanted. So sometimes what you have to do is actually click off. I have the Direct Selection Tool selected. But I click off, and then roll over a point to grab it. And now when I do, you notice I have my handles as well on those smooth points. So I can grab an item. And ...

I can move just it. So now I'm just moving that one particular point that's here. I can move this point down. And as I select each item, I also have access to those draw handles that were there when I created that smooth corner point. And I can grab that item and drag it out, and manipulate it that way. Move it, pull out the length of the handle, which gives me a larger arch. Larger arc, excuse me. And I can grab that draw handle as well and change the angle. So I can just constantly just come in here and keep making changes to those items that are here. And, again, that's because I have the Direct Selection Tool, which gives me access to the content of the frame. And in this case, it doesn't mean what's sitting inside the frame. It means the actual what makes up that frame itself. Let's do a couple more things while we're in that particular mode. I can switch the Pen Tool. And I have two different options for adding and deleting anchor points. So basically, if there aren't enough anchor points and I need one, I can add it. In fact where I use this a lot is when I've created a rectangle with the Rectangle Tool. Because, again, this is basically just points and segments in between. In fact, if I choose the Direct Selection Tool even on something I created using a built-in tool, there are my points. So I know that I can come in here and select this point and do something with it. I can drag this point inward. So we can start with the square and then make any changes to it that I need to. But maybe I want to use the Delete or Add Anchor Point Tool. So like I said, I use this a lot. Going to actually undo that and get back to a square. And then let's Add an Anchor Point Tool or add an anchor point. Because what I want to do sometimes is add a couple more steps. Maybe I want a square with a little notch cut out of it. So for whatever reason, I want my image frame or it just needs to be filled with color. And I want it to be sitting in a specific spot in my newsletter. And I want to cut out a little item. Well, I need a couple more points to do that. So I'm gonna go ahead and just click over here on this side and click here as well. So now, all I did was add that extra anchor point. And now when I use the Direct Selection Tool, and I come over and select on this anchor point here, I can change these two points here. And if I'm really steady, I can get it to where they're exactly lined up. And we get that nice 90 degree item that's there. Oops, let me zoom in a little bit on that. So I can add points to something that I've created, and work with it that way, and manipulate it. I can even delete anchor points as well. If I decide I don't like that, I can go ahead and just click delete. And, again, though it's going to go ahead and just make the shortest distance between two points and do it that way. It doesn't put it back the way I was hoping. If I wanted to, I could delete one more. And then with the Direct Selection Tool, move this item up. If I hold down the Shift key when I'm creating especially, and sometimes when I'm manipulating, it will constrain everything to 45 degree angles. Because of the way I drew this and messed it up with those other points, it will never let me have that top line be exactly straight. You can kind of see there's a little bit of a jump in that line that's there. But, again, I can add and delete anchor points as necessary to whatever shape I create, whether I created it freehand or created it with a shape that I selected here or that I used a tool for. If I used the Ellipse Tool, just gonna draw a circle here. I can use the Direct Selection Tool. And I can grab this item and just drag it down so I can get kind of this flattened wedge shape that's here as well. So, again, just because you have a tool that creates a specific shape, doesn't mean you're stuck with that shape that's there. You can use the Pen Tool to make further manipulations to it. Also, you don't have to switch back and forth between the Add and Delete Anchor Point Tool. You can actually just use the Pen Tool. And it's smart enough to know that if you are near a point, let's come in here where there is a point. Select this item. And then go into the Pen Tool. If you're near a point, it knows you want to delete it. In fact, as I roll over it, it turns from a plus to a little minus. So if I click on that, it deletes it. I'm gonna undo that. Or if you're over a segment, but not near a point, it knows you want to add one. If I'm off of it, it thinks I want to draw a new line. If I close to that segment that's here, it says plus. So I can just go ahead and add that in. So I can be adding and subtracting without switching those tools whatsoever. The only reason I don't like that is if you have many points that are all sort of crammed together and you're using that and letting it choose, you might click on one thing, and you meant to click on another. You might be adding when you want to subtract and vice versa. So that is a good time to switch between those two tools that are there. The last tool that's in here, I'm gonna go back to this line that we had up here. It just has a lot more variety to it. And one of the tools that's underneath here is the Convert Direction Point Tool. And that actually let's me change from a hard corner point to a smooth corner point and vice versa. So let's choose the Direct Selection Tool. Let's select this item here and then the Convert Direction Point Tool. And when I click on a smooth one and just click, it automatically creates that hard corner point for me. If I want change that hard corner point to a smooth one, I click and drag. And as I drag out, I get my handles, and I get the arc as well so I can keep playing with that, change the size of the drag handles as well. And I can select and keep clicking back and forth and making it a hard corner point or a smooth corner point. So, again, we draw it once. We have a lot of options with that. Let's do some of the freehand drawing ones. Because the Pen Tool is nice, but if you're gonna be putting a lot of different arcs to it and things, you really have to have an idea ahead of time of what it's going to look like. And I find that the Pen Tool is for me a little difficult to draw with beyond some basic shapes that I might create. And I think I said it, but I want to reiterate that if you're drawing, let's say you want a three-sided frame that you're gonna put text or just color in it or something, or it's just a line, you want to hold down the Shift key. If I hold down the Shift key, then I know that I'm constraining it to 45 degree angles so I get that nice straight line. So when I'm drawing a straight line like this, I'm always gonna hold down my Shift key. And I can let go. And now that's a frame. I can see when I select it with the Selection Tool. My entire bounding box is there. Everything lives in a rectangle. It's just that we don't necessarily see everything on that rectangle. But I can manipulate it as I need to using that bounding box. And that bounding works just the same as the other tools we had where we can rotate it, and size it, and draw from the center outwards, et cetera. So everything works exactly the same with that.

Class Description

Learn Basic Design Skills.

Adobe® InDesign CC® is the industry's go-to tool making for layouts that combine images and text. Learn the most efficient way to work with this indispensable software in Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners with Erica Gamet.

In this beginner-friendly class you’ll learn how to:

  • Navigate the Adobe InDesign CC workspace
  • Work with text, images, and color
  • Export and Print

Erica will show you how to execute layouts that include text, graphic elements, and images. You’ll learn basic design skills you can use to create professional-looking magazine layouts, newsletters, flyers and more.

If you want to take charge of your graphic design, Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners with Erica Gamet will get you started.

Level: Beginner, No prior Adobe InDesign experience required.

Don't have Adobe Creative Cloud yet? Get it now and save 20% so you can follow along with the course!


Adobe InDesign CC 2018



Fantastic course. I have used Illustrator and photoshop, but learned when under tight deadlines. We are going to begin using inDesign to publish a more extensive multipage newsletter, and I wanted to build a better knowledge foundation of this tool, rather than just diving in. The course was comprehensive and I feel that I'll be able to make a better product after taking the course.


Have loved Erica since I was a baby designer. She is a great educator, and even though I have been using ID for about 8 years, I just changed from CS6 to CC. This was a great refresher as well as a mental upgrade to new options and effects.

Gilbert Beltran

I enjoyed these classes. Learned the Indesign toolbox and picked up a few smart tricks. Erica is great at keeping up the pace and being very clear and easy to follow.