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#1
bob_media

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First of all I'm not a cartographer but a writer that uses maps and diagrams from time-to-time as a narrative device.

I'm currently tracing the outline of a base map using the pencil tool.

Preferences are set to: 'precision cursor'.

Pencil tool options are set to: Keep selected, Edit selected path.

When I start the precision cursor appear. When I lift my pen (I use a tablet) then continue the line the precision cursor changes to a '+' which indicates that the path will be continuous which is fine.

What isn't fine is that the '+' doesn't revert to the precision cursor once you begin tracing again which makes things difficult as the weight of the cross makes it very difficult to trace lines that are moving towards the vertical.

I'm plainly missing something.

Any help or advice gratefully received.

B:o)
OS X 10.5.8
Mac Mini
Adobe Creative Suite 4

#2
David Medeiros

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I don't use the Pencil tool much so I can't comment directly but it sounds like an issue with the "streaming" nature of the pencil tool versus the click to draw splines of the Pen tool. I have always found the Pen tool to be more precise or easier to control than the Pencil tool for most digitizing, but I use a mouse so who knows. Have you tried using the caps lock instead of the prefs to set the precision curser?

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#3
bob_media

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David,

Thank you for your suggestion. Have tried what you suggested but doesn't resolve my issue with the precision cursor.

I'd be grateful to receive any other suggestions that forum members may have.

B:o)
OS X 10.5.8
Mac Mini
Adobe Creative Suite 4

#4
amtait

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I use the pencil tool every now and then and I do see the issue you point out. I do not think there is an option to keep the precision cursor as a diagonal cross when you draw. You may want to zoom in and use the Caps Lock key to switch back and forth between precise and regular cursors as you alternately need a vertical or diagonal cursor.

But, I would also second the idea of switching to the pen tool for this sort of work. It takes a while to get used to if you've never used a vector drawing tool, but it is much more precise. I use the pencil tool for quick and dirty tracing or if I WANT to have imprecise and looser quality to the linework.

__Alex

David,

Thank you for your suggestion. Have tried what you suggested but doesn't resolve my issue with the precision cursor.

I'd be grateful to receive any other suggestions that forum members may have.

B:o)


Alex Tait
VP, International Mapping, Ellicott City, MD, USA

#5
bob_media

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Alex,

Thanks for your comments and advice.

Are you saying that I'd be better using the pen tool for drawing things such as coastlines or rivers? I'm obviously not approaching the task from the right direction.

I thought the pencil tool would be better for such activities. (I originally tried the pen tool but it didn't seem to be the right tool for the job.)

Am I wrong?

I feel a new topic suggesting itself.

Any tips about how to use the pen tool to trace coastlines, rivers, contours, etc?

Again thanks for you advice. It's made me think.

Best wishes

B:o))
OS X 10.5.8
Mac Mini
Adobe Creative Suite 4

#6
David Medeiros

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I think the pencil tool often gets used initially because it replicates our natural drawing style, moving a pencil to draw a line. But in reality the pen tool, once you get used to it, does a much better job of tracing accurate lines. It takes some practice however to learn to use the spline’s and where to set each point. I learned that as you create new curves you should always place your next point at the spot where the curve you’re tracing begins to change direction. Once you place your point, you pull the spline out to effect the curve, but you have to remember that each curve is created by the two spline’s on either side so don’t try to match each curve from the first pull, you have to use both ends to get it set right. Once you get used to it you’ll be doing very little adjusting and just flying through line creation.



I learned on the job, but my recent cartography class (part of my GIS certificate) used a very good PDF document as a teaching aid. You can download it here:

http://veerle.duoh.com/blog/comments/illustrator_pen_tool_exercises/

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www.mapbliss.com

 


#7
bob_media

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I learned on the job, but my recent cartography class (part of my GIS certificate) used a very good PDF document as a teaching aid. You can download it here:

http://veerle.duoh.com/blog/comments/illustrator_pen_tool_exercises/


David,

Thank you for this first class link. I'm sure others will also appreciate it.

I can see that the pen tool is really good for tracing elements that comprise curves such as the dress in the tutorial. What I don't get is how you use the pen tool to trace say a 'rugged coast line'.

Do you do the trace at a large magnification with 'ztllions' of points?

In any event, thank you for taking the time to post the details of the pen tutorial

Best wishes

B:o)
OS X 10.5.8
Mac Mini
Adobe Creative Suite 4

#8
David Medeiros

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The more convoluted or or detailed the line is, the more anchors you will need to use. It can be very time consuming especially if your trying to keep it accurate. Thats why I usually try to avoid digitizing major features whenever possible by getting my hands on a shapefile for the area and using the simplify feature in Illustrator to convert the straight segments to curves. How "rugged" is your coast line? How rugged does it need to be depicted in your map? Take a look at the linked PDF below, this is an incomplete map of the Tomales Bay area in N. California, everything was hand digitized. If you were to compare this to an air photo off Google Earth of the same area you'd see that I simplified it quite a bit but it still looks very accurate and natural.

Ultimately though you have to do what works best for you and if the pencil tool is working and feels easier to handle than the pen tool, than stick with it.

http://www.sonic.net...Tomales Bay.pdf

dave

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 





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