I'm trying to connect two open paths with a perfectly smooth curve. It is an easy task in CAD/3D software, But I can't figure out a way to accomplish that in Illustrator.

The top part of the image is what I'm trying to do (I don't expect Illustrator to handle curve continuity, just to make it smooth is enough). When I use the Pen tool to extend one end of a path by dragging from anchor point, it always causes the original path to slightly change shape. (see the bottom part of the image). I've tried many things: connected path with a straight line and used reshape tool, created helper geometry, etc. to no avail.

So i'm asking for help. Of course I can export paths from Illustrator to Rhino and back, but there has to be another way.

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


There's a cludgy workaround way I know of to get exact smooth curve joins like that in Illustrator (below).

If you'd rather simply make lots of approximately (not precisely or consistently) smoothed joins check out the Join Reasonably script, co-incidentally discussed on this similar looking question.

So here's my slightly long-winded but precise method (works in CS5).

  1. Create a 3rd two-point line with the pen tool. The shape and location of this path don't matter, but, hold down and drag slightly on both the first and second clicks so both ends have anchors. Select this path (V black arrow) and sent it to back (ctrl/cmd+shift+[)
  2. With Smart Guides on (Crtl/Cmd-U), drag one end (using the A white arrow, ) of the line to exactly overlap one of the other paths' open end points where you want one join to be.
  3. Select the pair of overlapping points (drag a box around them with the white arrow A), and join overlapping anchor points ([Cmd/Ctrl]+Shift+[Opt/Alt]+J). Select 'Smooth' from the popup menu.
  4. Repeat 2 and 3 for the other pair.

If it doesn't seem to work, double check that the overlapping points in the actual join have anchors. If the ends of the original shapes don't have anchors, add some using the V-shaped tool (crtl-c), dragging off the point very slightly in the direction the line is going. Also double check that they perfectly overlap.

If the wrong path section changes shape with the smooth join, you might have forgotten to send the new path to back before starting (also make sure it's not on a higher layer than the other paths).

It's not a simple method for what ideally would be a simple task, but it works.

  • Thanks, that worked! Did not think about using the third line to get these handles to appear.
    – lashtal
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 16:48

You could simply draw the complete path and then cut out the yellow segment.

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