How to Curve a Line in Adobe Illustrator

Drawing a curved line with the Pen Tool or Pencil is not the easiest thing and it’s difficult to get the perfect curve you want. That’s why Adobe Illustrator has developed tools that would help us get the ideal curve we want. 

Working with Adobe Illustrator every day for over ten years now, I’ve found the easiest way to curve lines using different tools. Trust me, knowing these tools will save you tons of time creating curve lines in Adobe Illustrator. 

For example, I use the Anchor Point Tool to edit my pen tool paths and the Curvature Tool to make multiple curves lines, and shapes. And for me, the best tool to make a curved corner is the Direct Selection Tool. 

In this article, you’ll learn three ways to curve a line in Adobe Illustrator in just two steps! 

Let’s dive in.

3 Ways to Curve a Line in Adobe Illustrator

Note: Screenshots are taken from the Illustrator CC Mac version. Windows and other versions might look slightly different. 

Take this simple rectangle as an example. We can turn it into a completely different shape using the three different tools below to add some curves. 

Method 1: Anchor Point Tool 

The Anchor Point Tool works great together with the Pen Tool. You can easily edit the anchor points or simply drag the path to curve lines. 

Step 1: Select the Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) hidden in the same tool tab as the Pen Tool. 

Step 2: Click on a path and drag to create the curve. For example, I click and drag to the left. You can move the handles or anchor points to adjust the curve.

Tips: Not happy with the curve? Click on the anchor, it’ll go back to the straight line so you can click and drag again. 

2. Curvature Tool 

Step 1: Select the Curvature Tool (Shift + `). 

Step 2: Click on anywhere on the path/line and drag to the direction you want a curve. As you click, you add anchor points to the line, so you can make multiple curves. 

The red circles are the areas I clicked.

Unlike the Anchor Point Tool, the Curvation Tool doesn’t have direction handles. But you can edit the curves by moving around the small anchor point circles. 

3. Direct Selection Tool 

This tool doesn’t work on a two-anchor point straight line. You can use the direct selection tool to curve a sharp corner or to edit the curve of a curved line. 

Step 1: With the Direct Selection Tool selected, click on the anchor point on the rectangle corner and you’ll see small editable circles. 

Step 2: Click on the circle and drag it toward the center direction. 

A curve will form and you can see the direction handles. Move the direction handles to adjust the curve if needed. 

Other Questions?

You’ll find quick answers to the questions related to how to curve lines in Adobe Illustrator below. 

How do you draw a curved/wavy line in Adobe Illustrator? 

You can draw a curved line using the Pen Tool or play with Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. 

You can also draw a straight line using the Line Segment Tool, and use one of the methods above to curve the straight line. 

How do you curve a shape in Illustrator?

You can easily curve a shape using one of the methods above but there are more things you can do to create different curved shapes. 

For example, you can apply different effects like Warp or Distort & Transform to create shapes and curved text

How do you change the thickness of a line in Illustrator?

You can change the thickness of a line by adjusting the stroke weight. With the line selected, find the Appearance panel under Properties, and change the stroke weight to make your line thinner or thicker. 

Final Thoughts

There’s always a way to make things work and here you have three. As I mentioned earlier, the quickest way to make a corner curved is by using the Direct Selection Tool. But the other two tools give you more freedom to edit the curves. 

Have fun exploring the different ways to curve lines and find which option is most convenient for you. 

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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  • Md.Manjurul Ahsan

    Thanks a lot for writing such helpful article.

    • June Escalada

      You’re welcome!

  • Sumon khan

    Thanx for make it easy for the beginners.

  • Gail O'Brien

    Thanks June
    Learnt a few tricks today.

    • June Escalada

      You’re welcome, Gail 🙂