enter image description here As the picture shows, I wish to add a circle, and align its center with the anchor point of this curve. I tried to snap a circle to it but it does not work.

Thank you!

  • If you want to put your circle center over an anchor point, first select your shape or path (it's better zoom in enough to see anchor point ), then hold Shift-Ctrl (Windows) and put your cursor mouse over the anchor point exactly and draw your circle to put circle's center point over anchor point. Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 9:16
  • 1
    Hi. Are you trying to centre a circle on the the curves widget location? If so, this isn't an anchor point, and nothing will be able to snap to that. Perhaps try dropping some guides to mark its location. You may have to zoom in a bit and eyeball it, adjust and tweak until they match. Then you can draw a circle using the guides' intersection as the centre. see example
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 11:45
  • @BillyKerr I'm trying to snap it onto the "blue square point", is that the anchor point? Not the "while circle point with blue outline and center".
    – GlenXoseph
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 14:46
  • Yes the square blue dots are anchor points. You could also use some guides to aid you here as well. Drop them on the anchor. They should snap to it. Then draw your circle using the guide intersection for snapping.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 14:51
  • The trick is to use the white arrow tool not the black one. Then drag from the point you want to snap to the point you want to snap to. The qrrow gets white and the smart guides say anchor.
    – joojaa
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 16:12

2 Answers 2


Turn ON smart guides and snap to point. Turn OFF all other snap options.

Let Illustrator show the centers of the objects. This can be turned OFF, so it's possible you have done it and you must turn it back.

Draw a circle. Select it with the normal black arrow.

Hold the Ctrl key (this turns temporarily the black arrow to white) and drag the centerpoint of the circle on the wanted anchor point. It snaps.

This does not work if you have clicked anything else on the circle with the white arrow after selecting but before the dragging.

The target anchor point must be a real one, not one which becomes real after a still alive and editable effect is expanded nor an effect adjustment handle.

If it happens that you are not missing the thing you asked, but how to snap your circle or shape center to something else than to an existing anchor point, this method is not a solution.

But I have still something. Sometimes people want to find the the centerpoint of a circle. They unfortunately have only an arc of it, so the shape center is useless.

See image A in the next cartoon

enter image description here

Let's assume the red curve segment (the whole red part, nothing less) is a circular arc. The black curves are not tangential lines of the arc. If they were, the case would be a little simpler.

To find the centr draw 2 chord lines (green and magenta in image B). Be sure they snap to the arc at both ends.

In image C both chord lines are rotated 90 degrees. The pivot points are the default ones (=midpoints). The wanted center is the crossing.

In image D a circle is drawn to the chord intersection. To get it draw an ellipse holding Shift+Alt at the same time. Or move an already drawn circle to the crossing like told above. It snaps also to the intersection

If the black curves in Image A happened to be straight tangential extension lines of the arc, you simply draw their duplicates and rotate them both plus and minus 90 degrees, The rotation pivot points must be the arc ends. It's sketched in the next cartoon.

enter image description here

If you browse older questions you probably find this and numerous other tricks where elementary geometry is applied to a drawing problem. Tricks are sometimes cool, but often eyeballing with high zoom in is much faster way to draw accurately enough for a nice looking image. Engineering needs something different and Illustrator is not the best tool for it.

  • Thank you! That is very helpful. However I'm wondering if I did not expressing myself correctly. I wish to snap the circle at the anchor point, where the curve starts to curve, or the "blue square point" in the image I uploaded.
    – GlenXoseph
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 14:59
  • You use the corner widget effect. It's an editable effect. I am not at all sure does the blue square behave like an anchor point. We'll see. Obviously Illustrator at least puts there an anchor after the effect is expanded. Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 16:23

The center of the circle will snap to the square anchor points in your picture (but not to the corner widget itself).

First make sure View> Snap to Point is checked on in the Menu Bar.

Also, make sure Show Center is on in the Attributes Panel- Window> Attributes

Then use the White Arrow (Direct Selection Tool)- it seems to me to have much better snapping capability than the Black Arrow (Selection Tool). Option/Alt click on the circle to select the entire circle shape (simply clicking the shape with the white arrow will only select the path or anchor you directly click on and not the entire shape). It is important to drag your selected shape from the anchor which you want to snap to the rounded corner anchor point. This also works when dragging from the center point.

If you are still unable to snap then go to Preferences (Settings now an mac) and under Selection & Anchor Display make sure the Snap to Point item is checked on and maybe even increase the value to a higher number. In the example mine is set to 15 px.

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.