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What you're looking at here is a zoom-in of a custom drop shadow I've created in Illustrator CC for some text. The foreground text is hidden.

Since I'm ultimately going for a hand-painted effect on the 'shadow' I can't have obvious sharp corners, I want to soften the corners, but only certain corners so that the foreground shape still touches the shadow correctly on the necessary vertices.

I've tried a number of things, including using some combination of offsets and strokes which did give me nice corners but the overall size of my shape would change (and I didn't have control of which corners to affect, though I could conceivably work around that by layering in pieces of the original shape to restore certain corners).

I've also tried the following techniques that haven't worked out:

Convert anchor to smooth:

Well that's not what I'm after.

Round corners effect:

That's too goofy, even if I split up the shape.

Live corners:

A total non-starter there. It will let me push the whole side out to a point, or severely round off an entire side, but not the subtle softening of the corner that I want.

Finally I came up with a semi-tedious technique of creating a circle (the green shape) and pushing it up against the corners I want to soften, and then hitting pathfinder -> divide. This would give me the paths I need to work with to solve this.

In theory this should work... the shape of the bottom-left of that circle follows the sort of path I would like to have, but I can't seem to align the circle correctly to the edges of the shape to create those new anchor points. As you can see in that screenshot; I don't receive any registration marks to hint at where to drop the circle. I've tried to carefully place the circle at a high level of zoom and totally miss that intersection each time or overshoot it and I'm not happy with the result.

So my question is either: - How can I make that last technique work reliably? or - Is there another way to easily soften those select few corners in a nice consistent manner?

  • Finally, an Adobe question that shows effort. I feel good about +1 this question. – DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ Feb 28 '18 at 16:18
  • It is possible that you have two corners nearly on top of each other, – joojaa Feb 28 '18 at 18:03
  • DarthVader, I'm trying to avoid people expending energy on answers that retread ground I've covered, though I'm open to pursuing those methods again given the right advice to avoid repeated failure. Unfortunately eliminating the obvious answers sometimes leaves no answers :( – braks Mar 1 '18 at 9:10
  • joojaa, you can see the corners in the 2nd last screenshot. – braks Mar 1 '18 at 9:10
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  1. Practice
  2. Use Outline Mode (view > Outline)
  3. Use Nudge and set nudge (Preferences > General > Keyboard Increment) to a very small amount, like 0.125pt
  4. Sometimes it is easer to merely add two anchors with the Pen Tool/Add Anchor Tool where the circle would touch the original path and then convert the original corner anchor to a smooth point and adjust. You don't actually have to use a circle, just add two anchors, one on either side of the corner.
  5. Ideally... AstuteGraphics VectorScribe It's still light years better than the Adobe Live Corner implementation
  • Thank you for your answer, it looks like VectorScribe is a viable solution, and your 4th suggestion was sound also. – braks Mar 1 '18 at 10:04
  • Absolutely gunned through this with VectorScribe. – braks Mar 1 '18 at 10:11
  • Yeah Adobe tried to implement something similar in CC.. but really, they still aren't anywhere close to what Astute is putting out. – Scott Mar 1 '18 at 10:46

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