Get More-Natural Adjustments with the Illustrator “Reshape” Tool

by Jay Hilgert
on November 28, 2007

A hidden gem in my opinion, Illustrator’s “Reshape” tool can come in very handy in a variety of situations. In a nutshell, the Reshape tool allows you to drag a single point on a path and it tries to retain the overall shape of the entire path, while you only move the one anchor point. What? I’ll explain below.

The Illustrator Reshape Tool

1: Direct Select Tool Adjustment

Start off with a simple path like below. I used the pencil tool to make a simple curved line, and applied a brush stroke. I’ll start by showing you an adjustment with the Direct Select tool (white arrow) as a contrast/comparison.

The Illustrator Reshape Tool

Now lets say you want to adjust this shape, and you use the Direct Select tool (white arrow) and move the far right point where you want it like this:

The Illustrator Reshape Tool

And this is what you get. Ok, but you still might have to manually adjust the rest of the points to get what you’re looking for.

The Illustrator Reshape Tool

2: Reshape Tool Adjustment

Start with the same simple path (or a new one).

The Illustrator Reshape Tool

Now select your shape with the Selection tool (black arrow), and then select the Reshape tool.

Important: You need to have all points in your shape selected before you move the single point. If you only select a single anchor point before you use the Reshape tool, it will only adjust the path up to the next non-selected point (like the example above)

The Illustrator Reshape Tool

Ok, with all points on your path highlighted, move the far-right point with the Reshape tool, and you’ll notice a more natural adjustment.

The Illustrator Reshape Tool

In my opinion, this is a much more pleasing result:

The Illustrator Reshape Tool

One More Thing:

If you hold Option (Alt PC) while you drag with the Reshape tool, you can easily make copies of your shape that might prove to be useful. (almost like a manual blend tool).

The Illustrator Reshape Tool

About Jay Hilgert

Formally trained at Oklahoma State, Jay Hilgert is a graphic and web designer, font designer (Link), software developer (Brush Pilotâ„¢), and the founder of BittBox.

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