Illustrator is a very useful program to create vector art. Vector art is the use of points, lines, and shapes, based on mathematical expressions, which create images in computer graphics. A benefit to working with vector images as opposed to rasterized images is that the size of the image can be amplified without it pixelating or losing its sharpness. One of the most important tools that is used in Illustrator when creating vector art is the pen tool. Some say the pen tool is a difficult tool to really understand. I think the best way to get used to the pen tool is to just practice, practice, practice.
I found an online lesson that explores the use of the pen tool. I found the lesson through the Adobe Education Exchange. The lesson itself is actually on a blog called Brain Buffet, which is an education-based blog. The lesson is almost in a game-like setup. There are four space ships in four different rectangles. Each space ship is cyan, magenta, yellow, or black. There are dividers with small openings that run down the middle. The point of the assignment is using the pen tool and handles to put a path from one space ship to another. The student cannot just click on one space ship and then click on the other and edit the handle. They must click and drag on the first space ship and guess how long the handle will need to be to connect it to the other space ship without hitting the divider.
I think this lesson is a good way to explore the most basic part of the pen tool in a fun way. It is almost like a game lesson, which will make the activity more interesting for students. I think this is more of like an exercise than a full-blown lesson. It could be a partial class period exercise that will go hand in hand with a more elaborate pen tool assignment. I would probably do this assignment with high school students. I think Illustrator is a little harder to understand as a program, so I think young students would have a hard time being able to grasp the pen tool.
Abode Education Exchange link:
Tutorial Video for Exercise:
Schwartz, Rob. "CMYK Wars." Adobe Education Exchange. N.p., 06/11/2011. Web. 10 Nov 2011.
Schwartz, Rob. "Illustrator CS4 Tutorials." Brain Buffet. N.p., 06/11/2011. Web. 10 Nov 2011.