How do I use the pen tool to trace exactly over an existing vector object?

Posted on 2007-08-05
Last Modified: 2013-12-02
I'm trying to use the pen tool to trace perfectly over an existing curved path in Illustrator. I must be missing the obvious because I've been searching through tutorials and can't find anything about it.

Please see this URL:

Let's say I start out with the green vector object in the graphic. The next step is to draw another object with the pen tool (the dashed-line object). As you can see, part of the second object needs to overlap a portion of the first object exactly, so that there are no holes between the paths. In other words, the two objects must overlap perfectly in the area between the blue circles.

How do I use the pen tool to draw the dashed object so that the two objects overlap perfectly between the blue circles? I don't want to "eyeball it" needs to be an exact overlap.

Thank you,
Question by:kguttman
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment


    I would use the drag and duplicate (hold down ALT) to copy the item, then delete the anchor points that you don't need and use the pen to draw the rest.

    Otherwise if you want to do this manually use biggest zoom and buy a WACOM pen rather than using the mouse, but you probably do this anyway

    all the best
    LVL 9

    Assisted Solution

    Copy the object in question by selecting it and hitting Ctrl+C or Edit/Copy.

    Next, go to Edit/Paste in Front or Ctrl+F.

    This places the object EXACTLY on top of the old one.

    Then you can delete the anchor points as captainreiss suggested (tap the "-" key for the tool) or you can use the Scissors (tap the "c" key) to cut the path at each end. Then delete the part of the path you don't want.

    LVL 3

    Accepted Solution

    Use lasso select tool ("Q") and drag over the curve you want to reproduce (let's say your object is defined by points A, B, C, D, E, and AB is the straight line you don't want, the curved path you need is CDE -- create the lasso over this curved path but leaving OUT points C and E).
    Copy (ctrl+C).
    Paste in front (ctrl+F).
    Select old object and lock (ctrl+2) if needed.
    Select pen tool (P) and draw from points C' or E' (on the new pasted segment). Just click on the end point (C' or E') -- do NOT click-drag, this will change the curvature.

    Author Comment

    Thank you for the help. I split the points, due to the different suggestions for ways of selecting/deleting the portions I don't need.
    LVL 9

    Expert Comment

    Thank you for the grade and points!
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    Hi kguttman

    not sure how my post differed from the others but glad you found a workable solution.

    all the best

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