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Simplify a path

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Facing issues while editing a complex artwork with many anchor points? Use the Simplify Path feature in Illustrator to solve your problems related to editing complex paths.

Simplify path

The Simplify path feature helps you remove unnecessary anchor points and generate a simplified optimal path for your complex artwork, without making any significant changes in the original path shape.

Simplifying path gives you the following benefits:

  • Easy and accurate path editing
  • Reduced file size
  • Faster file display and printing

When do I need to simplify a path?

  • To remove imperfections in the traced path when using Image Trace.
  • To edit only a portion of the complex artwork and to create sharp or smooth paths in a selected artwork region.
  • To reduce the number of anchor points when expanding a shape using the Variable Width tool in Illustrator.
  • To edit an artwork created using mobile apps for drawing, painting, or sketching and then imported in Illustrator.
Sim

A. The original image B. Image after tracing or importing (maximum anchor points) C. Image after simplifying the path (optimized anchor points)  

Simplify the path automatically

  • Select the object or a specific path region.
  • Choose Object Path Simplify.

The unnecessary anchor points are automatically removed and a simplified path is calculated. 

Simplify path

A. Slider to reduce anchor points B. Auto-simplify anchor points C. More options 

Simplify the path manually

To further simplify and fine-tune the path, use the Reduce Anchor Point Slider. By default, this slider is set to an auto-simplified value. The position and value of the slider specifies how closely the simplified path matches the curves of the original path.

  • Minimum Anchor Points (): When the slider is close or equal to the minimum value, the anchor points are less, but the modified path curve will have some minor deviations from the original path. 
  • Maximum Anchor Points (): When the slider is close or equal to the maximum value, the modified path curve will have more points and a closer fit to the original curve.
Simplify path

Advanced simplification controls

To open the Simplify dialog with advanced options, click More Options ().

Simplify path

Use the Corner Point Angle Threshold slider to control the smoothness of corner points in a path. Move to the left for smoothness and right for sharpness.

Tip: If you want to quickly get smooth corners when the number of anchor points are less, use the Corner Point Angle Threshold slider in synchronization with the Simplify Curve slider.

When you change the anchor points or the corner angle threshold value, Illustrator automatically calculates and shows the number of Original and New anchor points.

New and original points

  • Show Original Path: Select to show the original path behind the simplified path to preview difference between the two paths.
  • Preview: Shows a live preview of the changes you do.

Select the Convert to Straight Lines check box to create straight lines between the object’s original anchor points. 

If you want to directly open the advanced dialog next time with the current settings, select the Retain my latest settings and directly open this dialog check box. 

The corner point remains unchanged when the threshold is at a value greater than the auto-calculated default threshold (90°).

Example: Simplifying and editing the path using advanced options

In this example, we'd try to achieve the following using the Simplify Path dialog:

  • Reduce anchor points of a selected region.
  • Create sharp corner angles in a selected region.
  • Convert the path to straight lines in a selected region.
advanced controls
The artwork we want to achieve (original path shown by red lines)

Corner points
The original artwork

This is how we achieved the desired artwork

advanced controls

Create smooth paths with the Smooth tool

After you reduce the number of anchor points, you can use the Smooth tool to remove stray points and get a smoother path.

To create a smooth path:

  • Select the object.
  • Select the Smooth tool 
  • Drag the tool along the length of the path segment you want to smooth out.
  • Continue smoothing until the stroke or path is of the desired smoothness.
Using the Smooth tool

A. Original path B. Dragging across path with the Smooth tool C. Result 

Create smooth curves

Do the following to get a smooth curve while keeping the opposite curves intact:

  • Select the Anchor Point tool.
  • Press Option or Alt and click any of the handles to pair the opposite handles and make the point smooth.

Control smoothness level

To change the amount of smoothing, double-click the Smooth tool and set the following options:

Fidelity

Controls how far you have to move your mouse or stylus before Illustrator adds a new anchor point to the path. For example, a Fidelity value of 2.5 means that tool movements of less than 2.5 pixels aren’t registered. Fidelity can range from 0.5 to 20 pixels; the higher the value, the smoother and less complex the path.

Smoothness

Controls the amount of smoothing that Illustrator applies when you use the tool. Smoothness can range from 0% to 100%; the higher the value, the smoother the path.

Smooth a path
Pair opposite handles using the Anchor Point tool

A. Corner points with unpaired handles B. Opposite handles paired, resulting in a smooth curve 

What's next

After you simplify the path, you may want to perform the following tasks:

Have a question or an idea?

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