Vector With Me! Part 2
Keep It Simple and Know Your Extrema  
In Part 1, we went right to work in Adobe Illustrator to draw some easy monoline alphabets. If you finished the first worksheet, pat yourself on the back! By now you should have a feel for how to control the pen tool and bezier handles. If not, no worries! I got another worksheet for you to practice with a how-to video at the end so you can follow along, pause, and rewind whenever you like. Now let's dive into two key points you should know to be on your way to vectoring your lettering!
#1 The secret to vectoring lettering is to keep things simple by limiting the number of anchor points we use and understanding proper placement of anchor points. 
Vector lettering can be made with an infinite number of anchor points but having too many points is bad news! Anchor points control the direction of paths that make up a vector lettering. Having an unnecessary amount makes editing a huge headache. To achieve smooth curves and draw the contours of your lettering with ease, keep things simple by placing most of the anchor points on the extrema of your lettering. This brings us to the second key point!
#2 If you can find the extrema of your lettering, you can vector ANYTHING!
Extrema is the outermost area of a curve. Having anchor points placed on the extrema of our lettering allows us to create beautiful smooth curves that are easy to manipulate with bezier handles. We can train our eyes to find the extrema by looking for an area where a curve ceases to rise or fall in slope. This is probably the hardest concept to grasp when it comes to vectoring but trust me, extrema are easier to find than Waldo! 
The way I approach it is to imagine the curves of my lettering as parts to a circle. If you draw a circle in Illustrator with the shape tool, you'll see it's made up of four anchor points. The points are already placed on the extrema. If you think of the circle as a clock, the anchor points are at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. So for any curve in my lettering, I visualize it as a circle clock and find the areas that could be 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. Those areas are the extrema and the proper spots for placing anchor points. With practice, however, you'll find that not all extrema need anchor points to create the curve you want. In the new worksheet, I pointed out certain extrema where I deliberately chose not to have anchor points because I was able to achieve the curve needed without the additional points.
Now that you know where to find the extrema, let's jump into a new vector practice! This worksheet is an .ai file and it contains the lettering "Bezier" shown above. Open up the file in Adobe Illustrator then watch the video below. The video goes through the process faster this time, however, we're not doing anything new! If you need a refresher, I recommend watching the video in Part 1again for a slower walkthrough.
To grab the free worksheet (.AI file), click subscribe below and you'll receive a welcome email with this download plus other goodies straight to your inbox! If you're already a subscriber, you can find the worksheet in our June 2020 Newsletter.
​​​​​​​Don't have Illustrator? Click here for a free 7-day trial. If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, your plan comes with Illustrator. Go to your app manager to install. 
Enjoyed this vector practice? Subscribe to my mailing list to get Part 3 of Vector With Me! straight to your inbox when it's available. As always, I'd love to see your progress! Share screenshots with me on Instagram @annlettering.