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, 8 min)

Create artwork with fully editable, live shapes

8 min

In the latest release of Illustrator CC 2015, Shape tools such as the Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, and Line tools are dynamically adjustable and offer a consistent visual experience.

Use control widgets to continually modify the shape’s width, height, and corner radius properties. Widgets hide as your shape is reduced in size, and automatically reappear when scaled up or zoomed.

On-artboard hinting helps you draw perfect shapes 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 appear. Drag a corner widget to change the corner radii. If you go too far, a red arc appears indicating maximum corner radius. 

Tip: To modify a single corner, type A to access the Direct Selection tool. Click the anchor point of the corner to modify, click the corner widget, then click and drag to edit.

Eight bounding box handles appear around the rectangle. Scale the rectangle by dragging a handle. Move the cursor away from a corner bounding box handle until you see the rotate icon; then drag to rotate.

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.

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 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.

Tip: To reset a rotated shape or path to its original angle, select 0° in the Polygon Angle or Rotate fields in the Transform and Shape panels.


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. 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 bounding box handles in the corners to resize and rotate the polygon. You can scale Live Polygons non-uniformly without losing their live characteristics. To return the shapes to equal-sided polygons, click Make Sides Equal in the Transform and Shape panels.

  • Drag the single rounded corner widget to round all corners of a polygon
  • To edit a corner individually, type A to access the Direct Selection tool and click the anchor point of the corner to modify
  • Alt/Option + click on the widget to cycle through corner styles such as Round, Inverted Round, and Chamfer
  • Double-click the widget to access a Corners menu to customize the corner's appearance and rounding attributes

Draw a Live Ellipse

Drag an ellipse or circle with the Ellipse tool. You can change the live ellipse’s dimensions dynamically using the bounding box handles.

Shift + drag a bounding box handle to resize the shape proportionally; Alt/Option + Shift drag to scale proportionally from the center.

To rotate an ellipse, move the cursor away from a bounding box handle 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.

Tip: To reset a pie shape back to an ellipse, double-click on one of the  pie widgets.



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.

It's easy to draw constrained shapes while drawing freeform without pressing any control keys. For example:

  • While dragging a widget to extend a line, a colored hinting guide appears along its trajectory, and Line Extension and on appear at opposite ends of the 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.

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