How to Add, Delete, and Join Anchor Points in illustrator

As a vector-based design program, Adobe Illustrator is all about working with anchor points. When you draw or create shapes in Adobe Illustrator, you’re creating anchor points without even noticing them. 

You don’t see them often, because in most cases, you’re using the Selection Tool to select objects. However, if you use the Direct Selection Tool to select objects or lines, you’ll see all the anchor points. 

Once you find the anchor points, you can start editing them using different tools, or the Direct Selection Tool itself. 

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to edit anchor points in Adobe Illustrator, including how to add, delete, move, and join anchor points using different tools. 

Note: All screenshots from this tutorial are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC 2022 Mac version. Windows and other versions can look different. 

Where is the Anchor Point Tool in Adobe Illustrator

If you click on the Pen Tool, you’ll see the Anchor Point Tool in the same menu, along with Add Anchor Point Tool, and Delete Anchor Point Tool. The keyboard shortcut for Anchor Point Tool is Shift + C

Alternatively, when you select an anchor point (or anchor points) using the Direct Selection Tool, you’ll see some anchor point options from the top toolbar.

How to Add Anchor Points in Adobe Illustrator

There are a couple of ways to add anchor points in Adobe Illustrator. The logical way would be to choose the Add Anchor Point Tool and then click on a path to add anchor points. But actually, you don’t always have to choose the tool. 

When you have a path selected, you don’t have to choose the Add Anchor Point Tool from the toolbar because if you hover on the path using the Pen Tool, it automatically switches to the Add Anchor Point Tool. 

You can also use the keyboard shortcut + (the plus key) to add anchor points in Adobe Illustrator. 

The next step is to click on the path where you want to add the anchor points. When a new anchor point is added, you will see a small square at the spot where you clicked

For example, I added 5 anchor points to the rectangle by clicking on the spots I circled out.

You can only add anchor points to a path, so if you try to add anchor points to a raster image or live text, it doesn’t work. Normally, you’ll see a message like this when you can’t add new anchor points. 

How to add anchor points to text

Want to make a font from an existing font? You can edit the letters by playing with the anchor points. If you want to add anchor points to text, you must outline the font first to convert text into paths. Here’s how it works. 

Step 1: Select the live text, and use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Command + O (or Shift + Ctrl + O for Windows users) to create an outline. If you use the Direct Selection Tool to select the text, you’ll see anchor points. 

Step 2: Choose the Add Anchor Point Tool and click on a path on the letter to add anchor points.

Depending on how you want to modify the text, there are different options to move the anchor points. 

How to Move Anchor Points in Adobe Illustrator

You can use the Direction Selection Tool, Anchor Point Tool, or Curvature Tool to move anchor points. Simply select one of the tools, click on the anchor point you want to move, and move it freely. 

When you move anchor points using the Anchor Point Tool, you’ll be moving the handles and in most cases, it curves the line/path. 

When you use the Direct Selection Tool to move, you can move the position of the anchor point, and you can make it curved or with a rounded corner. 

The Curvature Tool allows you to curve the path between two anchor points, and you will be able to move the anchor point to adjust the curve. You can also directly select an anchor point to move it. 

How to Delete Anchor Points in Adobe Illustrator

What if you added too many anchor points and want to remove some of them? Guess what? Using the Delete Anchor Point Tool is one way, and you can also use the Direct Selection Tool. Either way, it only takes three quick steps to remove anchor points in Adobe Illustrator. 

Deleting anchor points using the Delete Anchor Point tool

Step 1: Use the Selection Tool to select the path where you want to delete anchor points. 

Step 2: Choose the Delete Anchor Point Tool from the toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut - (the minus key), and you’ll see all the anchor points on the path you select.

Step 3: Click on the anchor points you want to remove. For example, I clicked on all anchor points within the triangle from the letter A. 

Alternatively, you can use the Direct Selection Tool to remove anchor points. See the quick steps below.

Deleting anchor points using the Direct Selection tool

Step 1: Choose the Direct Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut A). 

Step 2: Click on the anchor point you want to remove.

Step 3: Hit the Delete key. 

How to Join Anchor Points in Adobe Illustrator

Depending on whether you’re making a shape or trying to join anchor points to a line, there are different ways to join anchor points in Adobe Illustrator. 

If you want to join anchor points from different paths, you can use the Join command to join lines/paths

Simply use the Direct Selection tool to select the anchor points of the path, and use the keyboard shortcut Command + J (or Ctrl + J) to connect the anchor points. 

If you’re talking about joining the anchor points to make a shape, you’ll be using the Shape Builder Tool

For example, if you want to combine these two shapes, moving the shape to where the anchor points meet isn’t going to actually join the anchor points.

Instead, you can select both shapes, choose the Shape Builder Tool, and drag through both shapes to combine shapes. When you combine shapes, the two anchor points are joined together. 

Conclusion

Knowing the basics about how to work with anchor points in Adobe Illustrator will help you make things easier. For example, you can modify fonts, and shapes to create something new. It’s also helpful when it comes to illustrations, such as joining lines.

About June Escalada
Graduated from Creative Advertising major, worked more than eight years as a graphic designer focusing in branding and Illustration. Yes, Adobe Illustrator is my best friend and I’m passionate about art and design.

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