What is a Bezier Curve in Illustrator?

When drawing with the Pen tool in Adobe Illustrator, it's easy to create beautifully curved lines that are connected to fixed points. These are known as Bézier curves, and they're named after Pierre Bézier, a French engineer who helped to establish the field of geometric modeling. Bézier decided to patent his iconic curve, and today, the Bézier curve is used in most graphic design applications. Below, we've shared how to create a Bézier curve in Illustrator, adjust the curve using anchor points and control handles, and combine multiple curves into a complex shape.     

Drawing a Bézier Curve

In most cases, you'll be drawing bézier curves using the Pen tool, which is truly one of the most versatile tools in Illustrator. Unlike the Line tool, the lines you create with the Pen are called paths, and they're created with an anchor point on each side. These points look like tiny squares, and they allow you to transform a straight line into a dramatic curve. 

To activate an anchor point, select the Pen tool and click on the desired point. You'll know it's active when the point is filled with color. If you'd like to create a curve, click on the point and drag in the direction that you'd like it to bend. You should see another line appear while dragging the anchor point, which is called a control line. 

Lastly, if you hold the Shift key while dragging, your control line will be vertical or horizontal, depending on which direction you drag. This is extremely helpful if you want to create perfectly rounded corners.  

Adding and Deleting Anchor Points

The designers at Adobe have made it easy to edit your designs, all with the same Pen tool. You may have noticed that the Pen cursor changes when you move it over certain objects. If you place the Pen on a path, it turns into the Add Anchor Point tool, and if it's on an anchor point, it turns into the Delete Anchor Point tool. After that, all you have to do is click.  

As your design becomes more complex, multiple bézier curves can be connected with the Pen tool. At a minimum, each of these paths have an anchor point on each end, and there may be some stray anchor points as well. Strays aren't linked to the larger path, and they're usually created when you delete a segment at one end of the design. 

To delete all stray anchor points, make sure nothing is selected in your project, go to the Select menu, and choose "Object" > "Stray Points". Illustrator will select all of the stray anchor points, and then you can press the Delete key to remove them. 

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