Adobe Illustrator CC

Create artwork with fully editable, live shapes

Learn how to edit basic shapes dynamically, and use hinting features in Smart Guides to position them precisely. (See how, 5 min)

In the latest release of Illustrator CC 2015, Shape tools such as the Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, and Line tools are live, interactive, and dynamically adjustable. Easily round corners, create pie slices, increase the number of sides on a polygon, or adjust the dimensions of a shape to precise measurements. Edit Live Shapes directly—there's no need to switch to Selection tools for this task.

The on-artboard hinting feature helps you draw perfect shapes such as squares and circles easily without using control keys, while Smart Spacing features let you move and align objects intuitively and accurately.

Draw a Live Rectangle

When you draw with the Rectangle or Rounded Rectangle tools, four corner widgets—tiny circles in each corner of the Live Shape—appear. Drag a corner widget to change the radius of the corner. If you go too far, a red arc appears, indicating you have reached the maximum corner radius.

Eight scaling/rotation widgets appear at the four corners and sides of the rectangle.

The center point widget makes it simple to locate the shape's center—to help position and align objects to the center of your shape.

Use these widgets to continually modify the shape’s width, height, and corner radius properties.

Edit a shape precisely

When you draw a Live Shape, you can easily edit the shape's properties in the Control panel at the top.

Click Shape Properties to precisely change your shape’s unique attributes such as its dimensions, rotation, and corner properties for the Live Rectangle.

You can also use the Transform panel to change a shape's properties.


Draw a Live Polygon

With the Polygon tool, draw a polygon that is six-sided by default. Drag the polygon's side widget to dynamically increase or decrease the number of sides of the shape. You can also change this value in the Transform panel’s Polygon Properties using the Polygon side count slider; or simply enter a number in the field.


Drag the four scaling/rotation widgets in the corners to resize and rotate the polygon. Drag the round scaling widget to scale the polygon proportionately from the center.

Drag the single rounded corner widget to round all corners of the polygon.

Tip: Shift + drag to draw a polygon shape with one of its sides aligned with the horizontal axis.

Draw a Live Ellipse

Drag an ellipse or circle with the Ellipse tool. You can change the live ellipse’s dimensions dynamically using the four axis widgets. Use the left and right axis widgets to scale the ellipse proportionately from the center; Use the top and bottom axis widgets to scale the y-axis only. Shift + drag to resize the shape proportionately.

To rotate an ellipse, move the cursor away from an axis widget until you see the rotate icon; then drag to rotate. An Angle Readout box appears while you drag.

Tip: Press Shift while rotating to snap to 45° angles.


Drag the pie widgets to create a pie shape.

Tip: Click the Invert Pie icon in Shape Properties in the Control panel; or under Ellipse Properties in the Transform panel to invert the pie shape.

Draw a Live Line segment

Draw live Lines with the Line Segment tool. As you drag, the angle and length readout box appears, giving instant feedback.

To rotate the line, move the cursor away from an end widget until you see the rotate icon; then drag to rotate. The line rotates around its center.

Resize the line by dragging the end widgets; or enter the length and angle desired in the Line Length and Line Angle fields under Line Properties in the Transform panel.

The center point widget makes it easy to locate the line's center—to help position and align objects with its center precisely. 

Draw and position shapes precisely while drawing freeform

Use hinting in Smart Guides to help you draw and position objects on the artboard.

Select Preferences > Smart Guides > Transform Tools. Now, it's easy to draw constrained shapes while drawing freeform, without pressing any control keys. For example:

A colored hinting guide appears along its trajectory while extending a line;

A diagonal hinting guide appears inside a rectangle as you draw a square;

Hinting crosshairs appear inside an ellipse as you draw a perfect circle.


Use hinting features in Smart Guides to align and position adjacent objects precisely.

Select Preferences > Smart Guides > Alignment Guides and Spacing Guides. Now, equal spacing guides appear when you move objects to spaces exactly as preceding objects, or when centering an object between existing objects.

Let us know what you think