For the last couple of months a few people asked how to connect a tangent line to a curved segment in order to create a smooth geometrically correct transition from a curve to a straight line. I promised to make a little GIF animation to explain this method.
So, if you ever wondered how to make tangent lines to a curved path by hand, in order to create a smooth transition of any angle, here's one trick I've been using for quite some years. It's the most precise method I know:
1. Make a circle and add any angled line.
2. Select that line, double-click the Rotate tool, enter 90° and hit Copy.
3. Move the copied line to the exact centre of your circle.
4. Convert copied line into a guide (Alt + Option/shift + 5)
5. Select the first angled line and move its starting point to the position where the circle and the guideline intersects, assuming your Smart Guides are active (ctrl / command + U). You may adjust your Smart Guides settings accordingly to achieve maximum snapping control. The maximum snapping tolerance is 10pt.
You angled line is now in perfect tangent position.
It's one of the oldest requested features for Illustrator, but I guess Adobe never felt the urge to add such a basic geometric feature until date. Luckily there are scripts and plug-ins to make this process effortless.
Some weapons of mass construction
One of the best plug-ins I've seen and still use today are the following three favourites:
SubScribe by Astute Graphics.
Xstream Path by CValley.
VectorScribe by Astute Graphics.
For a few bucks each one of these plug-ins offer you a very powerful set of editing tools within Illustrator.
over 1 year ago
yep. That is right!
Cheers for the tip Gert
Great tip, thanks for that, I'm sure a lot more people will be appreciative of this too!
Cool! Thanks for sharing
Awesome tip thank man :) *copy/pasting to desktop*
Tip of the hat to ya, sir
Thanks Gert for sharing this great trick!
Thanks for sharing tip,i've been doing it the hard way,now after this tip it will go super faster ,thanks!
Thanks for the great tut, Gert! Makes a lot more sense now that you've animated it.
Awesome tip. I've been doing it the "well, that's sort of looking right" method
nice! great tut. There are also few other ways to do it in different situations, as long as you get familiar with geometric shapes you can even come up with your own solutions to problems like this. )
Don't really use Illustrator but can I tattoo your logo? :)
Nice one man, this looks way better than the bodged way I normally do it. Thanks :).
@Erik lol, cheers man!
@Art That's correct sir ;)
How about rotating the circle by 45 degrees? Its faster and also gives an anchor to hook on, so you can draw the same sloping line without making any guides.
Thanks Gert, you the man.
Yeah that makes more sense then how I have been doing it for the last 10 years.. Thanks!!!
Ok, if you need 27° (for instance) angle, you have to rotate the circle and the line by 27°. Exactly the same way when drawing 45° angle, isn't it?
Fantastic! Thanks Gert!
There are more ways of course, and the method you described is a solid way to achieve the same when you only need to connect a single line
Though I personally just want to make an extra anchor on a curved segment just by making a perpendicular copy of the straight line and convert it to a guide. While a second opposite line may have a different angle, I need to rotate the circle back to its origin and start over again.
I often prefer to keep the 4 points of a crcle at their original tangencies. Sure, I can copy and/or rotate back the circle to its origin, but I guess it's the same, if not more, the amount of work.
Thanks Gert! Lovely tip!
Thank you for this.
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