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How to get the handles on the starting anchor point(starting point of the path) without leaving the pen tool?

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I am able to get the handles by

  1. Leave the pen tool
  2. Press Shift+C to get to Convert Anchor Point Tool
  3. Click on the starting point and draw. This creates the required handles
  4. Press P to go back to pen tool

But this approach effectively resets the pen tool and I have to rejoin the pen tool with my last anchor point.

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Holding down Alt key helps me to invoke Convert anchor point tool temporarily to convert between symmetrical smooth point to a non-symmetrical corner point but this only works with anchor points present inside the path but not at the starting anchor point of the path

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You've worded things really confusingly. A corner point is an anchor point. So, you can't evert convert something to what it already is.

So... I assume you mean convert a symmetrical smooth point to a non-symmetrical corner point...

Hold the Option/Alt key down and click (not click-drag) the end anchor to convert it to a non-symmetrical corner point.

Same as in Photoshop here: Make all Pen points straight by default regardless of the previous point in the path

The Option/Alt key is an on-the-fly way to use the Convert Anchor tool. You can hold the Option/Alt key and click-drag a Bezier handle to break symmetry as well. If you want a smooth point, you just click-drag on the end anchor point, no modifiers are needed.

  • Thanks Scott for answer, But I am looking for some thing different. I have re-edited the question for clarity. I am actually looking for a way to get the handles on the starting anchor point of the path. Unlike anchor points which are present on the path the Alt key option is not working with the starting anchor point. Please correct me if I am wrong. – Vineel Kovvuri Jun 6 '15 at 7:05
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    You're still being pretty confusing. If you want to alter an anchor point after you've drawn other anchor points, it always requires you to "break the drawing" and reconnect to an end point later. I guess I don't see the issue. To start a path with a symmetrical smooth point, click and drag - the same way you would for any other anchor. Then continue on with additional anchor points. – Scott Jun 6 '15 at 7:34
  • Yes @scott I agree with your comment. May be my workflow is incorrect. i.e., I have to decide whether I have to start a path with a symmetrical smooth point or with a corner point. But I am wondering if by mistake if I have started path with a non symmetric corner point can I use Alt key to convert that to symmetric point (effectively giving me handles to adjust the smoothness)? Interestingly I am able to convert all anchor points on the path from smooth to corner and vice versa except with the starting anchor point. – Vineel Kovvuri Jun 6 '15 at 8:01
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It seems like this is a very difficult question to discuss verbally. Illustrator also seems to treat the end-points on a path differently than points with a line segment on either side.

You can Option/Alt Click-and-drag from your end point to get access to the handle that comes after the point. (This is the Convert Anchor tool discussed in SOIA's answer - but it will only create one control handle)

If you Option/Alt Click and drag from the line segment it will rubber-band edit that curve, giving access to the handle before the end point.

The cursor will look like this: Rubber-band cursor

This will also edit the handle on the previous point, but it is the only way I have found to create/access the control handle on that side of the end point without switching away from the Pen tool.

I hope this has added some clarity and not just more confusion to an already difficult situation.

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