How to Add and Edit Anchor Points in Adobe Illustrator

The Pen Tool allows you to quickly add or remove anchor points by using the keyboard shortcut + or – to select the Add Anchor Point Tool or the Delete Anchor Point Tool. The standard Anchor Point Tool lets you edit the anchor points from smooth to angled or vice versa. 

When you have one or more anchor points selected, the Control panel will show quick action buttons to convert the anchor points, show or hide handles, and add, remove, or cut the path.

My name is April, in this tutorial, I’ll show you how to add and edit anchor points using different tools in Adobe Illustrator. 

Let’s check them out. 

Key Takeaways

  • You can use the Direct Selection Tool, Lasso Tool, Smooth Tool, Scissors Tool, and Path Eraser Tool to edit anchor points.
  • The Anchor Point Tool allows you to click on the anchor point and change it from a smooth anchor point to an angled anchor point.
  • The keyboard shortcut for the Anchor Point Tool is Shift + C.
  • The Direct Selection Tool lets you directly edit one or more anchor point(s).

Note: The screenshots from this tutorial are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC Windows version. 

How to Add Anchor Points in Adobe Illustrator

In this section, we will be using the Pen Tool and the Add Anchor Point Tool to add anchor points. 

Navigate to the Pen Tool in the Toolbar panel and select it. You can click and create anchor points to draw a shape.

If you hover over any of the lines, you will notice the Pen tool changes to the Add Anchor Point Tool. You can hover over a line and click to add an anchor point. 

Add as many as you would like. Depending on the type of line will determine if the tool adds an angled anchor point (see straight line shape below) or a smooth anchor point (see circle below).

How to Edit Anchor Points in Adobe Illustrator

There are different tools you can use to edit anchor points in Illustrator. Here are the options.

Method 1: Using the Direct Selection Tool

Select the Direct Selection Tool from the toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut A to activate it.

You can select and move any or multiple anchor points at once. You can click directly on the anchor point or you can drag and select anchor points. You will know if the anchor point is selected because it will be a solid color instead of just an outlined white square.

Note: The color of the anchor point will depend on the layer color. You can check this by double-clicking on the layer that the object is on in the Layers panel.

Method 2: Using the Remove Anchor Point Tool

Navigate to the Toolbar and click and hold the pen tool under the flyout menu. Then click on the Delete Anchor Point Tool

Hover over an anchor point. Click on it to delete the anchor point. The line affected by the anchor point will adjust automatically.

Method 3: Using the Anchor Point Tool

Navigate to the Toolbar, click and hold the Pen tool until the flyout menu opens. Then click on the Anchor Point Tool.

Here is my original shape:

To use the Anchor Point Tool, hover over an existing anchor point, click and drag the anchor point. You will begin to see the line change to a curve. Release when you have it where you want it. I changed two of my angled anchor points to smooth as you can see here:

Now take your Anchor Point Tool and hover one of the smooth anchor points we just made. Simply click the anchor point and it will be changed to an angled anchor point.

Method 4: Using the Lasso Tool

Navigate to the Toolbar, and click on the Lasso Tool.

To use the lasso, draw a line around the anchor points you want to select. This image shows the lasso I draw around my shape.

And here you can see those three anchor points are now selected. You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move them or use the delete key to delete them. This tool is a great way to select multiple points that are near other objects you don’t want to select or if they are just all over the place. Then you can edit them all at once.

Method 5: Using the Smooth Tool

Navigate to the Toolbar, click and hold the shaper tool until the flyout menu appears. Then click on the Smooth Tool.

Select the object or line with the Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut V). Drag the Smooth Tool along the anchor points you want to smooth out. Do this as many times as necessary.

Method 6: Using the Path Eraser Tool

Navigate to the Toolbar. Click and hold the Shaper Tool until the flyout menu appears. Then click on the Path Eraser Tool.

To use the Path Eraser Tool, you have to have the path or object selected, then drag the tool along the part of the path that you want to delete or “erase”.

Here is my original shape:

Here you can see the blue squiggly line that I drew with the Path Eraser Tool:

And here it has erased part of my path:

Method 7: Using the Control panel

For this method, you will need to open the Control panel. If you don’t see it, navigate to the overhead main menu, and click Window > Control.

When you have at least one anchor point selected (you can do so with the Direct Selection Tool or Lasso Tool), the Anchor Point section will appear in the Control Panel. 

It offers quick buttons to convert to an angled anchor point or to a smooth anchor point, to show or hide the handles on the anchor points, remove selected anchor points, connect selected anchor points, or cut the path at the selected anchor points. 

Final Thoughts

From adding anchor points on a line to adjusting the position of an anchor point with the direct selection tool, Illustrator has it all. We can use anchor points on lines and shapes to create all sorts of vector graphics. Curved lines, sharp points, hand-drawn looking graphics – the sky is the limit!

Have you tried the Anchor Point Tool in Illustrator? What did you create with it and was it for fun or work? Let me know in the comments below.

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