Does the blade on this dagger have to be created using the pen tool?

Are there easier ways to do so in Illustrator or Photoshop (CS6 if possible)?

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3 Answers 3


With the pen you can draw the outline of the blade. You can cheat and draw only the upper edge. You can make the edge by clicking few times and then adjusting the edge more precise:

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In Inkscape the pen should be in spline mode, so the clicks generate a smooth curve. Doing the clicks takes about ten seconds, but the result probably is too coarse. The final edge form is made by moving the curve (by moving the spline nodes) with the node tool. That can take few minutes, but it shouldn't be an obstacle even for a beginner.

Finally you have good enough edge. Make a duplicate, flip it and insert the left and right end segments. The edge must be converted to path (Bezier curve) before making joints or other path operations because Inkscape turns unstable if one asks it to do something complicated. Trying path operations with splines is one such task.

The resulted outline may be good enough, but to be more exact you can draw the whole blade outline. In the next image the bottom edge was made by flipping a duplicate:

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The outline is not much more than an empty paper if you want an image which looks like it has the original 3D form and metallic texture - shiny metal or rusty. Drawing the 3D-like shading, possible glosses and maybe some engravings or rusty texture will be 99% of the work. Many of us would try to get it easier, for ex. by making a 3D model and getting a high resolution photo of rusty metal + mapping it on the model. But learning to use properly a capable enough 3D program is at least as tricky as learning to use all available tools in Inkscape or Illustrator.

If the intention is to make a non-shaded line drawing (for ex. to be used as a tattoo) inserting a few lines to visualize the sharpened edge is not difficult. Drawing the numerous details of the hilt needs much more care and skill.

If you just want to avoid drawing the outline manually you can make in Photoshop a selection which contains the blade. The quick selection tool in legacy PS follows the wavy edge quite well after making a few insertion and subtraction clicks. The selected blade area can be pasted to Illustrator and traced:

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Expanding the tracing, removing the black fill and inserting a thin stroke shows that the resulted curve isn't more complex than the manually drawn. The bottom edge is not especially accurate because the original photo has been shot in poor light. It's not at all clear which pixels are the blade and where the shadow starts.

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Little more: A whole new vectorized version of the dagger can be made with very low effort. The surface details are, of course, all distorted to unrecognizable due the low resolution, but it's a vector.

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Forget Photoshop, it's not the right kind of software.

One method for Adobe Illustrator CC would be to use the width tool on a simple stroke. If you need to convert to an actual shape afterwards, do Object > Expand Appearance

For example

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If you don't have a recent version of Illustrator, not to worry, the same is also possible in Inkscape (which is free). In Inkscape it's called the Power Stroke Live Path Effect. If you need to convert to an actual shape afterwards, do Path > Object to Path.

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Adobe Illustrator

Note: I did not focus on the image in the question. There was zero attempt to match the number of curves or degree of curvature in the question image. Here, I'm just showing how you could create a similar shape without really using the Pen Tool.

You can do this with just a triangle. You will need to use the Pen Tool a bit, to add or remove anchors, but you don't have to create any curves or anything.

  • Draw a long triangle (You can simply use the Polygonal Tool set to 3 sides)
  • Remove the right path segment (in my rectangle below)
  • Choose Effect > Distort and Transform > Zig Zag and play with setting to get some good curves. Then click OK
  • Choose Object > Expand Appearance so the effect gets "baked in" and you have actual paths to work with.
  • Remove the anchor points where the paths overlap. The easiest way to do this is to use the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) to click-drag and select those end anchor points. Then hit the Remove Anchor Points button (enter image description here) on the Control Bar across the top of the screen.
  • Use the Pen Tool to add ONE anchor where the tip should be.
  • Again use the Direct Selection Tool to click-drag that new anchor to the left (in my image) to form more of a tip or point.

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