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I have a path in Illustrator, for example:- take a rectangle and I want to find the midpoint of one of the edges and draw a circle with the center.

There is already an answer on how to find the midpoint, where we place anchor points on the path, and then it places anchor points between each pair of the already existing anchor points.

I don't want to put anchor points on the entire path just to find out the midpoint; it messes up all the design.

It seems basic enough, but I can't seem to find the proper way to do this.

How to do this in Illustrator? If I can't, then is there any other software other that provides this basic functionality?

  • Well, you're going to need a compass and a ruler... – Jules May 11 at 2:06
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  • Object > Path > Add Anchor Points (Yes I read the question... bear with me...)
  • Draw marker
  • Select marker
  • Edit > Copy
  • Edit > Undo (Removes marker)
  • Edit > Undo (Removes extra anchors)
  • Edit > Paste In Front (Pastes marker back in place)

This goes fairly rapidly with shortcuts. Add anchors from the menu, draw the marker then hold down the Command/Ctrl key and hit c,z,z,f - repeat.

The undo does not empty the clipboard or "undo" the copy step. A custom shortcut could also be assigned for the Add Anchor Points menu item (which doesn't have one) if an even more rapid process is desired.

enter image description here

If the object in question is a standard shape (circle, rectangle, etc.) then Smart Guides with snapping is generally easier.

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This is what i use:

  • Direct select the path segment with white arrow tool
  • Copy and paste in front
  • Rotate Each 90 degrees.

You can make this an action then its one keyboard shortcut. Further you can do this to multiple segments at a time.

Once your done delete the extra construction lines.

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I think using Smart Guides (toggle on/off using Ctrl / Command+U) would allow you to do that.

  1. Select the Ellipse Tool L, and move the cursor over the edge of the rectangle until you see it intersect with the centre of the rectangle.

  2. Hold down Alt+Shift* as you click and drag to make the circle.

Example

enter image description here

*Note: holding down Alt causes the Ellipse to be drawn from the centre, and holding down Shift constrains the proportions to a perfect circle.

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Inkscape has "snap to the midpoint of a line segment" where a line segment can be a part of a rectangle or other curve:

enter image description here

Both red circles are simply started to be drawn approximately at the midpoints of the line segments. The snap drew the centers exactly to the midpoints. Drawing by starting from the center needs holding both Ctrl and Shift in Inkscape.

For Illustrator you have already got some suggestions. Here's one more: If you need the midpoint of a whole path make an art brush which contains 2 equally long straight lines. Apply it to a copy of your path which is pasted in place:

enter image description here

Apply Object > Expand appearance to the copy and you get easy to snap node in the midpoint. Here it's used as the center of a new circle:

enter image description here

Delete the copy when it's not needed.

The result doesn't depend on how many nodes the path has and the method can be used also in Inkscape with extension Pattern along a Path.

BTW if you need the midpoint between 2 existing adjacent nodes without inserting new nodes you can always duplicate the path and increase the number of nodes in the duplicate. Delete the duplicate when it's not needed any more.

In Illustrator you can separate with scissors a part of a path which needs the midpoint but it already has nodes, so the "Add nodes"-trick doesn't work. Make a duplicate and cut it with the scissors for applying the 2-line art brush.

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