I'm new to Adobe Illustrator, but I have used extensively Inkscape. While I recognize that Illustrator is vastly superior in many fronts, I feel a bit of a lag due to the need to use three or four different tools for creating and editing paths. I also find the handles extremely small.

So, I would like to ask for tips or advice, or even links, to how to deal with the (perhaps just perceived) extra difficulty in editing paths on Illustrator. Also, if it is possible at all to get bigger handles.

Thanks in advance!

  • I just discovered that a good mouse helps. One with assignable buttons, so that the pen tool (p) can be assigned to one button, and the same for "direct select", "curve" (shift-c) , and "=" for adding points. – dsign Aug 5 '12 at 15:22

Keyboard shortcuts make living in Adobe so much easier.

I see you have most of them, but just to have a list:

  • P = Pen tool
  • + = Add Point
  • - = Remove Point
  • Shift+C = Convert Anchor Point tool
  • Ctrl+J = Join two points
  • \ = Line Segment tool
  • M = Create rectangle
  • L = Create ellipse

While using the Pen tool, Shift locks into specific angles, Alt gives you quick access to the Convert Anchor Point tool, and Ctrl lets you move the whole object you're working on.

While creating rounded rectangles, polygons, or stars, see what happens when you use the up/down/left/right arrows as well as Ctrl and Alt for the stars.

  • Learning the keyboard shortcuts definitely makes the hole process a lot smoother; once you're able to incorporate that into your workflow you'll find using paths in Illustrator a lot less of a chore. – lawndartcatcher Aug 13 '12 at 13:45

You can get slightly bigger handles and/or anchor points by selecting displays from the 4 boxes that I've highlighted.

The size difference isn't big, but it should help a little.

You can get to preferences from the top menu or Ctrl+K ( or cmd )

enter image description here

If you want help in other areas, you need to be a bit more specific.

For example: "In inkscape I was able to do this like that. How could I do it the same way in illustrator?"

This site could help a tiny tiny bit, even though it's meant for transfering from illustrator to inkscape.


  • Hi thanks! Yes, I have already checked those options, even if the size difference is really small. Thanks also for the link, hopefully there will be one day a wiki for going the other way around. – dsign Aug 5 '12 at 12:28

It might really help to use smart guides: View > Smart Guides or Ctrl+U or Cmd+U. This way, if you hover over an object like an anchor, a small word appears, saying 'anchor'. Be sure that Snap to Grid is off: View > Snap to Grid or Shift+" or Cmd+".


Learn the shortcuts for the pen tool and think symmetrically when drawing.

Think Symmetrically

If you're drawing a shape think about where you are placing anchors rather than just roughing out a shape. If you get familiar with how bezier paths are drawn you can plan ahead a bit when creating curves.

Learn shortcuts especially for the drawing tools.

  • space bar to move an anchor while you are clicking to place it
  • option with the pen tool to start a non-symmetrical handle
  • option-click a bezier handle with the pen tool to convert it from symmetrical to non-symmetrical
  • Turn on the auto-add/delete option in the prefs in order to simply click a path to add an anchor or click an anchor to remove it.

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