Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Start a New Line on top of an Existing One in Illustrator

illustrator pen tool start new path without merge or join

How to start a new path at the exact same place as another path starts or ends

In Illustrator, when you go to start a new path on the exact place that there is another path Illustrator wants to join them together – if you click on the start or end anchor. Or it wants to delete the anchor if you are over an anchor elsewhere on the path. If you’re just hovering over the path it tries to add an anchor point. Sucks doesn’t it? It seems impossible to make a totally new path and leave the existing one exactly where it is, untouched.

So, here’s the solution. First of all there is no key you can press to change this behaviour so you didn’t miss the memo on how to do this. You have to execute a workaround. So, you have two choices. Firstly you can go to the Layers palette and lock down the path that you want to draw on top of. When it is locked you can’t alter it so you can go ahead and start your new path anywhere on it. The second option is a little tricky but works a treat. Start your new line away from the path you don’t want to effect – you can be close but not close enough to effect the line.  Then, while you have the mouse still pressed on the start point, hold the SpaceBar and move the starting point to where it needs to be. Then let go the SpaceBar and continue drawing.

It’s not a pretty solution but it does work. So there you have it – how to draw a path in Illustrator on top of an existing path without the auto merge / auto join behaviour. Oh! and if you need it, the shortcut key to lock the currently selected object is Command (Control) + 2.

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Creating a perfect heart shape in Illustrator

Here’s how to create a perfectly symmetrical heart shape in Illustrator:

Start in Illustrator and drag a guide to use to position the shape.

Select the Ellipse tool, click on the guide to start and draw a circle shape to one side of the guide. Add the Shift key to make a perfect circle.

Select the direct selection tool, drag over the bottom half of the circle to select it and press Delete. You should now have a semicircle shape.

Click the pen tool and then click on the outermost anchor point, the one furthest away from the guide. Click and drag downwards adding the Shift key after you’ve started dragging to ensure the line curves correctly.

Click again on the guideline and immediately add the Shift key and drag downwards to create half of a heart.

Click on the half heart shape to select it. Drag to the right and as you do, add the Alt and Shift keys (Option and Shift on the Mac) and move the shape until it snaps to the grid line. This should create a duplicate shape.

Right click this shape, choose Transform > Reflect > Vertical and click Ok. You now have two halves of the heart.

With the selection tool, drag over both sides of the heart to select them, choose Object > Path > Join to join these into a single shape. You can now remove the guide and you have a custom heart shape.

Helen Bradley