I am currently evaluating if Adobe Illustrator CC is the correct tool for me and would be glad, if one of the more experienced Illustrator users here can tell me, if and how the following things are possible?

1) I want to draw lines from one coordinate to another e.g. from 1/1 to 3/3 and then to 5/1. Unit shall be centimeters. Is it possible to directly enter from where to where a line shall be drawn?

2) Given a set of coordinates, I want Illustrator to create a curve which goes through these coordinates. How can this be accomplished?

3) Given an arbitrary polygon A I want to create a polygon B which surrounds polygon A with a distance of 1 cm.

Thanks for any hints on this :-)

  • Thanks to everyone that replied here, great answers! It is intended for sewing patterns. Your answers reminded me of Latex, which I never used for graphics but should be working well for that case. So for the moment my journey with Illustrator will stop before it started. Jan 29, 2016 at 19:36

3 Answers 3


There is no question whether illustrator can do what you ask. It can, another thing is if you want to use illustrator for this.

1-2. Sort of. Usually you would make the grid suitably sized turn gridsnap on, and click on the coordinates. Gridsnap will take care of accurate placement by disalowing any coordinates that is NOT on the grid.

But yes its possible to type values. Although perhaps your looking for a CAD tool instead. Anyway its possible to do this directly form a text editor too see following post if you need to do massive amounts of this:

Please note illustrator is not a data fitting tool. Although it certainly can do this. Maybe your more looking for something like matlab and mathematica or even python, instead. Its hard to guide you because you dont tell us What you need this for.

3. Yes its called offset. All CAD and Vector graphics tools know how to do this internally, because they need this to stroke lines. Technically a cad tool can ignore thi but they need it for other purposes. So yes.

In the end

It is a bit hard to guide you as your forcing a workflow on a solution without knowing if the workflow even is in your best interest. Given that you dont give any indication as to what this is for its very hard to be constructive without guessing.

Also what tool to choose depends a lot of things. Writing things in browser is fine if you really only need to work online. If you want to publish it in print then its not entirely ideal because it can not address cmyk values (svg itself can but the browser can not) and the printing support of browsers is atrocious.

PS: What you describe could be done with notepad alone.


For questions 1 and 2, although it's possible to create coordinates, it takes a few more steps to do so because illustrator starts off as a blank canvas, not a grid with relative distance units where you can make your own scale. Like @joojaa said, that seems to be where other vector-based programs for architectural and engineering industries come into play, like CAD products.

For question 3, it's simple:

enter image description here enter image description here

Good luck!


There are basically 2 ways to create vector graphics: you can draw them by hand with a Wacom pen or similar, or you can write a script that draws the graphics for you. The way you are describing what you want to do suggests you should investigate scripting first. Your post is basically a specification that describes vector graphics already. You just have to rewrite it in a machine-readable way.

If you decide to script your graphics with JavaScript, you can render your vector graphics with any Web browser. A key thing to understand is even if you don’t know JavaScript (or any scripting) at all, almost all of the lines of code you will make will simply be drawing instructions, similar to those in your post. You don’t have to take a JavaScript programming course. The Web canvas is its own little area of practice.

Here is a great learning resource for scripting the Web canvas:

HTML Canvas Deep Dive

You can also create vectors with an HTML-like markup language called Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) which can also be rendered in any Web browser, as well as imported into vector drawing tools. SVG code looks much, much more complicated than it actually is. With a little bit of learning, it appears much simpler.

Here is a great electronic book that teaches you to hand-code graphics in SVG:

Learn SVG Interactively by Jay Nick

If you do want a drawing tool, Autodesk Graphic enables you to draw vectors by hand and also to create them with JavaScript that runs within Graphic, and it is only about $25 or so and it is less complicated than Illustrator, so it may be a better way for you to get started.

Illustrator is also scriptable with JavaScript or AppleScript, but I have only made scripts that did workflow automation stuff, I haven't attempted to draw shapes on the canvas with scripts in Illustrator. I imagine it is possible. But again, if you are going to write JavaScript drawing instructions, you can run those on a Web browser for free or on Autodesk Graphic for $25. Of course, you can draw in Illustrator, but you can also do that in Autodesk Graphic.

  • You dont need a wacom to draw a mouse will work fine.
    – joojaa
    Jan 24, 2016 at 20:56

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