How to Draw Beautiful Bezier Curves
How to draw beautiful Bézier Curves
Whether it is the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator or drawing in a typeface design application, drawing beautiful Bézier curves is important. In order to create beautiful shapes that look good at any size, it is crucial to know how to make kick-ass Bézier curves.
What are Bézier Curves?
Bézier curves are named after Pierre Bézier, who used it in the 1960s for designing curves for the bodywork of Renault cars. The reason that Bézier curves are used in typeface design is because the paths can be scaled infinitely. This is helpful with fonts because it allows faithful rendering of the dictated shape no matter what size it is—6pt through to 1000pt.
Bézier Curve editors
The most common Bézier curve editor is Adobe Illustrator. Most people know it as the pen tool. The Pen tool in Illustrator can be frustrating to use when you are first starting out, but once you understand how It works it is much easier and the most powerful tool you can use in Illustrator.
All of the major typeface design softwares—GlyphsApp, RoboFont, FontLab— are powerful and exact Bézier Curve editors. Typeface design is the Bézier curve. It is crucial to understand how to draw great Bézier curves in order to make great typefaces.
Bézier Curves are made up of two different parts: Anchors and Handles. Anchors define where the path goes, while Handles dictate the curve of the line.
If you are drawing a box you will put an anchor in each of the corners. If you do this while holding shift it will lock the path to a right angle, making it easier for you to draw an even shape.
The handles dictate the curve and direction of the curve. Each anchor point has two handles, one corresponding to the line on either side of the anchor. This means that each line segment has two handles that control its shape.
A good practice when using handles is that they should never cross each other’s path. The handles should be of equal length, one should not much much longer than the other. This helps ensure that the line is as smooth as possible when it meets the line.
Handles can be controlled one at a time or both sides of a shape can be controlled at the same time.
How to Draw a Beautiful Bézier Curve
Drawing great shapes with Bézier curves can be frustrating in the beginning. Here are the three rules you need to know to get great at drawing Bézier Curves.
Be Economical with your points—Not too many not too few
Points should, almost, always align with the cardinal directions
Practice, Practice, Practice
1. Be Economical with your points
One of the Biggest mistakes that Bézier beginners make is that they use too many points. Many people after they have used Bézier curves for a while try and get away with using as few points as they can, this is also bad. Both of these mistakes can make your lines look choppy or not as smooth as they could be. The goal of the number of points is to use the correct amount. No more no less. The way you can tell if you are using the right amount of points is Rule number 2.
2. Points should always align with the cardinal directions
An easy way to tell if you are using the correct amount of points is to ensure you are placing points only on the cardinal directions of your shape. A great way to imagine this, or practice it. Is to put your shape in a box and every time your shape touches the box there should be a point there. Every so often there are exceptions to this rule but those are only with the most complicated shapes.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Unfortunately, there is no way to make you amazing at drawing Bézier curves overnight. It takes practice and work. But there are some fun ways to practice, there is an online game where you can practice drawing Bézier curves.