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Rounding off corners

From: Up and Running with Illustrator

Video: Rounding off corners

One of the most common questions we get is how do you round the corners of the shape inside of Illustrator and reserve the right to adjust the roundness of those corners later. Another words, you don't want to apply a static effect in which the path outline is basically resolved, and if you want to change the roundness of any segments you have to approach it using the White Arrow tool, very labor-intensive process rather what you want is a dynamic effect that allows you to change your mind any time you like.

Rounding off corners

One of the most common questions we get is how do you round the corners of the shape inside of Illustrator and reserve the right to adjust the roundness of those corners later. Another words, you don't want to apply a static effect in which the path outline is basically resolved, and if you want to change the roundness of any segments you have to approach it using the White Arrow tool, very labor-intensive process rather what you want is a dynamic effect that allows you to change your mind any time you like.

Well in that case, the first step is to absolutely steer clear of the rounded Rectangle tool, and yes I do mean never use it, because when you draw a shape with a Rounded Rectangle tool you actually lay down anchor points and control handles and you create a static path outline. Instead here is what you do. You go ahead and draw a standard rectangle or square or what have you, and then you select it with the Black Arrow tool and next you go up to the Effect menu which houses many of the dynamic effects that are offered by Illustrator then choose the Stylize command, and notice right there is a command called Round Corners.

Go ahead and choose it and then turn on the Preview check box so you can see what you are doing. You will be turning on the Preview check box a lot when you are applying dynamic effects inside of Illustrator. Adjust the Radius value as you so desire. I am going to take mine up to let's say 32 points. I am just working on a fly here. I like what I see great then I click the OK button in order to apply that modification. Now notice the path outline in the background is still a square. Illustrator is applying that rounded corner effect on the fly.

Now what do you do if you want to change the roundness of those corners, well rather than going up to the Effect menu and choosing the command again which will apply another paths of round corners, which is not what you need. Instead, you go ahead and bring up the Appearance panel and I will do that by clicking on the word Appearance over here on the right-hand of the screen, you could also choose the Appearance command from the Window menu, and then notice that you will see that the Round Corners effect has been applied to the selected path, just go ahead and click on that effect that returns you to the Round Corners dialog box, turn on the Preview check box so you can see what you are doing.

As I said you typically have to turn on that check box each and every time you visit a dynamic effect inside of Illustrator. Then I will click inside the Radius value and press Shift+Up Arrow in order to increase this value incrementally and at a Radius value of about 54 points, I like what I see and I will click OK. In this way I can take this value up or down. I want to make this perfectly clear, I can take the Roundness value down to 12 points if I want to. So I am not ever increasing the roundness of these corners rather I am changing them on the fly.

I will go ahead and change that value to 54 points again, press the Tab key to invoke the Preview and click OK. You can even, by the way, turn off the effect. So if you click on the eye in front of the effect, you will keep it around in case you want to apply it later you'll just go ahead and turn it off and that restores the sharp corners. I however want my Round Corners on, so I will go ahead and turn on the Effect on once again. All right, let's see a variation applied to the central star shape right there. I will go ahead and click on it to select it. Now if I bring up the Appearance panel for the star I am not seeing the Round Corners effect because I haven't applied it to this specific shape.

I will go up to the Effect menu, and notice that you will see the last applied effect up here at the top of the menu, so if I just go ahead and choose Apply Round Corners, the first command, then I will apply that same Round Corner effect I applied a minute ago without even bringing up the dialog box. However, if I want to change my settings I choose the second command, the one with a ... after it which shows me that I'm about to see a dialog box and sure enough there it is, I am going to turn on the Preview check box and I am going to take the roundness value for this effect down to let's say 28 points, looks pretty good, and then I will click OK, and now I see Round Corners applied here inside the Appearance panel.

Now the remarkable thing about dynamic effects inside of Illustrator, is you can apply them to entire objects, as I have in this case, or you can apply them to independent attributes. For example, I can round the Stroke without affecting the Fill, and if I wanted to do that, I just go ahead and grab Round Corners right there and I drag it and drop it onto the stroke and notice now the black stroke is rounded but the yellow fill is still quite sharp. So you have that level of control over your attributes inside of Illustrator.

Now you might look at this and say, well, how would I know? I've got the path selected and I can't see round corners anymore, how do I know that it's applied to the shape at all? Well you would go ahead and click the triangle in front of Stroke in order to twirl it open, and then you'll see your Round Corners effect, you can click on it to make whatever modifications you like. For example, I'll go ahead and take this value down to 24 points let's say and turn on the Preview check box, that looks good, and click OK in order to accept that modification. Now let's say I want to apply a completely different effect to the fill.

I want to make it look sort of hand-scribbled. Well then I'd select the Fill inside the Appearance panel and then go up to the Effect menu, in this case I will choose Stylize and then choose Scribble. Now the Scribble dialog box is pretty darn complicated. Its Preview check box seems to be turned on by default, which is good. There is all kinds of modifications you can apply. For example, I can increase that Stroke Width in order to create thicker scribbles, or I can reduce the stroke width in order to create finer scribbles, like so.

You can also change the angle of the effect by adjusting this Angle value and you'll see your modifications appear here inside the Illustration window. So feel free to play around with these values as much as you like. Illustrator also ships with a few predefined settings. So, for example, I could select Childlike in order to create these random thick scribbles, or I could choose Dense to create more densely packed ones. I am going to go ahead and choose Default, however, because I think that looks pretty darn good. The only modification I might want to make is to separate the scribbles away from each other a little bit and that's the function of the Spacing value.

I will go ahead and click inside of it and then press the Up Arrow key ones, maybe twice, in order to add a little bit of room inside the scribbles, and that looks pretty good to me. Now I'll go ahead and click OK in order to apply that effect. Now let's say I want the fill to appear in front of the stroke and now you can see that I've applied Scribble to the fill. Now note that we're not seeing that scribble is applied to the fill unless we go ahead and click on the triangle to twirl that fill open, and then you can see the Scribble effect. Finally, let's say I want that scribbly fill to appear in front of the stroke, then I just go ahead and drag it up the list and drop it on top of stroke, like so.

And that's my final illustration, barely any work whatsoever, entirely editable as well. Thanks to the power of Round Corners, the Scribble Filter, and Dynamic Effects in general here inside Illustrator.

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Up and Running with Illustrator

26 video lessons · 20131 viewers

Deke McClelland
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