Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC
Illustration by John Hersey

Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC

with Deke McClelland

Video: Using the hidden Corners dialog box

In this movie, I'll show you how to edit your

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Watch the Online Video Course Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC
1h 52m Appropriate for all Apr 02, 2014

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Illustrator CC does something that few updates to the program have done: It promises to change the fundamental way that you draw. Yes, there was the Pen tool in Illustrator 1, Pathfinder operations in Illustrator 5, and dynamic effects in Illustrator 9. But Illustrator CC changes the entire nature of the game. Deke's not exaggerating; the things he's about to show you are that big. Learn about the "new" Pencil tool, on-the-fly corner rounding, and freeform curve bending. 3 features in 3 short chapters that will change the way you see Illustrator. Then Deke shows how to combine them all in a real-world Illustrator project that proves his thesis: drawing has never been faster, better, or easier than this.

Topics include:
  • Drawing effortless arcs, paths, and lines with the Pen tool
  • Selectively and dynamically rounding corners
  • Drawing complex shapes with round corners
  • Bending segments with the Pen tool
  • Beveling and enhancing artwork
  • Drawing multiple lines at the same time
Deke McClelland

Using the hidden Corners dialog box

In this movie, I'll show you how to edit your rounded corners, using the options in the Corners dialog box. I'll go ahead and start things off by selecting this object with the Black Arrow tool. And you can see that I filled it with green. I've also rotated it 18 degrees, because I think it looks better that way. And now switch to the Wide Arrow tool. Now, notice because all of the corners are selected, if I drag one of these corner controls, I will modify the roundness of all the corners but I am doing so relative to how round the corners were in the first place.

Anyway, I'm going to press Ctrl+Z, or Cmd+Z on the Mac, to undo that modification. Another way to work, is to double-click on any one of these controls, in order to bring up the Corners dialogue box. And notice now, the radius value is empty. And that's because the various corners are rounded to different degrees. If you want to make them all the same, then you can just enter a value. For example, I'll change the radius value to 12, and then when I press the Tab key, I preview the effect automatically, so there's no preview check box inside of this dialogue box.

It's just constantly previewing. I'm going to cancel out of here, so that's one option that's available to you, and instead, I'm going to go ahead and select these inner corners right here, and I'm doing so by dragging around the corner because that's just the easiest way to work. And I'll Shift drag around this segment, and Shift drag around this one as well, and I'm Shift dragging from the outside in because if I were do it from the inside out, I would select the entire shape. So now that I have all five of these inner corners selected, I'll go ahead and double click on anyone of these corner controls.

So bring up the Corners dialogue box, and what I want you to see here is that you can change the shape of the corner. For example, currently it's round, but it could be inverted round, like so. Or, I could go ahead and change it to Chamfer which is going to bevel off those edges. And what's great about that setting, I'll go ahead and click OK, is that I can change how much of the segment is devoted to that Chamfer by dragging on that roundness control right there. So you can really gobble it all up if you want to like so, or you can make it very tight indeed by dragging inward.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and drag this out just a little bit. The effect I'm looking for is that second option. So I'll go ahead and double click on the control again. And switch it to Inverted Round, like so. Now the final option right here, which is absolute or relative, is easier to understand with the different shapes. So I'm just going to go ahead and click OK for now. And let's say I want to give this thing an eye. Well, I'll go ahead and get my rectangle tool. And I'll just Shift drag near the center of the object like so, in order to create a rectangle.

And then I'm going to double click on the Rotate tool, and I'm going to rotate this shape 45% so it's a kind of diamond. Then I'll click OK. And now I'm going to scale it using the Scale Tool. And so I'll go ahead and select the tool, and then I'll just drag free form like so, so that I'm making it wider and shorter. All right. Now let's go ahead and round off this shape to create a kind of ellipse. And you may figure at a point, wow, it'd be easier just to use the Ellipse tool, wouldn't it Deke, but the thing is you have more control now over the roundness of the shapes, if you take advantage of the White Arrow tool, and so I'll show you what I mean.

I'll go ahead and select that tool, and then I'll drag one of these out of controls to about here, and now I'll press Ctrl+Y, or Cmd+Y on a Mac, in order to switch to the outline mode. And I'll marquee these bottom points here and Shift marquee the top points. And the reason I switched to the outline mode is because otherwise it would be difficult to marquee those points. Now I'll press Ctrl+Y, or Cmd+Y on a Mac, to switch back to the preview mode, and I will drag inward like so on this top control. And notice that I can drag it all the way down beyond the shape.

And meanwhile, the opposite one goes above the shape. Alright, now I'm going to Alt click, or Option click on the shape to select the entire thing. And I'll double click on any one of these controls to bring up the Corners dialogue box. Now by default, things are set to absolute, so in other words, there's an absolute numerical amount of rounding going on. That's analogous to essentially a quarter ellipse. However, if I were to switch to relative, then the acute corners are going to bend outward, as you're seeing here, and the wider corners are going to flatten still more.

So again, these two corners right here, they're crimping now, and these big corners are flattening out. And so, now click OK, in order to approve that change. And I'll press Ctrl+Y, or Cmd+Y on the Mac, to switch back to the outline mode. And I'm going to select these two outer corners here independently. Or at least that's what I'm trying to do. I think I'm doing it wrong. I'll just click on this segment, and I'll Shift click on this segment to select the two of them. Notice Illustrator automatically gives them control handles, as you can see here, that you can manipulate, and we'll see what that looks like in the next movie.

But for now, I'm going to press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on a Mac, to switch back to the preview mode, and I'll double-click on any one of these controls. And now notice if I switch to Absolute, things flatten out, because these are the acute corners. And if I switch to Relative, they poke further out. And so we have this wonderful control over the roundness of this shape. So I'll just go ahead and click OK to dismiss the dialogue box. Alright, at this point I might as well finish off the effect. So, I'll go ahead and press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool. I'll click on this shape to select it, and I'll press Ctrl+C, or Cmd+C on the Mac, to copy it.

And now I'll Shift-click on the outside shape to select is as well. And I'll go up to the Object menu, choose Compound Path and choose Make. Or of course, you can press Ctrl+8, or Cmd+8 on the Mac. Now I'll press Ctrl+B, or Cmd+B on the Mac, to paste that shape in back. And I'll go ahead and rotate it by double-clicking on the Rotate tool, and I'll enter 90 degrees, and press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac. And let's go ahead and give this guy a purple eye, why don't we? And now, I'll double-click on the Scale tool. In order to enter the Scale dialog box, I'll change the uniform value to 70% and press the Tab key, in order to preview the effect, assuming the preview check box is on.

And then I'll click Copy, and now I'll change the fill of this guy to black, because this is his pupil. And then, I still have the Scale tool selected. So I'll go ahead and click right about there to set the origin point. And I'll press the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and I'll drag in order to create a copy of the shape. And also press the Shift key, might as well, anyway, in order to constrain the proportions. So I have both the Shift and Alt keys down, or the Shift and Option keys on the Mac. And then finally, I'll go ahead and change the color of that shape to white.

And so there you have it. An entirely absurd one-eyed monster. Created in part using the top secret options in the Corners dialogue box.

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