In my opinion, there are some pretty useful updates to Illustrator CC 17.1 (January 2014). We now can finally round the corners on our paths easily and even create custom panels for tools we use all the time. There are even enhancements to age-old features and tools like the Pencil and Pen tools, and how we edit paths, among a variety of other enhancements. In this article, we’ll explore the most interesting of these new and improved features in this newest release of Illustrator CC 17.1. I’ve even included links to some videos I created for the larger feature updates, that go into a little more depth.
At last! We know have a visual method for editing the corner points on an open or closed path, called Live Corners. This lets you round selected corners, or change the corner to one of three different types (rounded, inverted round, or chamfered). Sort of like how InDesign does it, you can now either drag to edit corner points or do it numerically in a dialog box.
With a path that has corner points (take a square, for instance). With the Direct Selection tool selected, you can select a series of anchor points on one or more paths. You can then drag the Live Corners widget that appears, to easily round the corners (by default).
You can also access the Live Corners options in the Control panel when corner points are selected with the Direct Selection tool.
video on Live Corners to seem them in action.
Path segment reshaping
When I first heard that how we edit path segments is getting added functionality I immediately went on the defensive. How dare they muck with something that works well enough for me not to have quit the program years ago. But actually, with the new methods for editing path segments you’ll soon see, I find myself actually using it in my everyday work to save bits of time here and there.
Let’s take a look at what we mean by improvements in “path segment reshaping.” Suppose you’re drawing a path with the Pen tool and need to make a change to a path you’ve already drawn. With the Pen tool and a path selected, hold down the Option (Mac OS) or Alt (Windows) and position the pointer over a path segment (between two anchor points). When the pointer changes to the Reshape Segment cursor (see the following figure), drag the segment to reshape it, unconstrained.
If you edit a path with the Direct Selection tool, unless it’s a straight segment (end corner points), the Reshape Segment cursor appears when you position the pointer over a selected path segment. This allows you to drag the segment unconstrained. Like the Pen tool, you can also press the Shift key after you begin dragging to constrain the handles in a perpendicular direction.
Check out this video to see how to work with path segment reshaping.
The New Pencil tool
There have been so many times that I jumped straight to the Pen tool to draw a path that may contain straight lines and curves, ignoring the Pencil tool. The Pencil tool drew more freeform paths and was difficult to combine straight and curved segments. Well, in this latest illustrator update, using the Pencil tool, you can now draw curves more accurately with options to extend paths, draw straight lines, and close paths.
Double-clicking the Pencil tool in the Tools panel has always allowed you to edit the tool options. Now, the “Fidelity” and “Smoothness” options in the Pencil Tool Options dialog box has been replaced with a single option: Fidelity. This makes it easier to understand what the fidelity option actually does (you know you just mess with tool options and draw to see what it does). Dragging the option slider allows you to adjust how much Illustrator smooths your path.
Drawing with the Pencil tool has some changes as well. If you hold down the Option (Mac OS) or Alt (Windows) key and drag with the Pencil tool, you can create a straight line.
see the new Pencil tool features in action.
Shortcut for File > Place
Okay, so a shortcut for the Place command should have been in Illustrator 4 million versions ago, but it was tricky. For those of you in InDesign, it seems a no brainer. Make the shortcut the same as InDesign—Cmd/Ctrl+D. It wasn’t that easy, however, since that shortcut (Cmd/Ctrl+D) was already assigned and would have caused a rift in the Illustrator community. So, Adobe decided to use Cmd+Shift+P (Mac OS) or Ctrl+Shift+P (Windows).
Custom tools panels
Illustrator now allows you to organize and group tools in the Tools panel into separate custom tools panels. This can be a great way to have a single, smaller tools panel that contains most of the tools you use for easier access. These custom tools panels can be docked and saved in your workspace and aren’t tied to any one Illustrator document.
By choosing Window > Tools > New Tools Panel, you can create a new free-floating tools panel that you can name.
Create a custom tools panelIn order to add tools to the new custom panel, you can simply drag them from the default Tools panel onto the plus (+) on the custom tools panel. To remove a tool, simply drag it away from the custom tools panel with a document open.
how to create a custom Tools panel.
Typekit fonts further integration
Illustrator now has a few new features around working with the desktop Typekit fonts that come with your Creative Cloud subscription. In Illustrator, if you go to the Font Family menu in the Control panel or Character panel, there is now a button in the upper-left corner that allows you to filter the font list in the menu, showing only desktop Typekit fonts that you’ve synched with Typekit.com.
see the new Typekit integration in action.
Perspective drawing enhancement
This seemingly simply feature update will most likely impact how you work with the perspective tools (if you use them that is). If you have artwork attached to the perspective grid and lock the grid station point (View > Perspective Grid > Lock Station Point), you can drag a vanishing point (see the figure) with the Perspective Grid tool and the artwork on either grid will move with it.
see the enhancement to editing the perspective grid.
Other new/improved features
What’s New dialog box
This feature literally can’t be overlooked—it’s a dialog box that appears when you launch Illustrator CC after updating. It contains several intro videos on working with the new and improved features as well as a link to a more complete list of new/improved features. You will need an internet connection to watch the videos.
This is one of my favorite areas when it comes to improvements. SVG is being used on the web more and more these days and I’m glad to see that not only are there a few new options when saving as SVG (File > Save As), but when you open an SVG in Illustrator, visual fidelity is maintained by aligning objects correctly with the pixel grid.
Bringing the Swatches panel a little more in line with the InDesign Swatches panel, the Illustrator Swatches panel now contains a Stroke and Fill buttons as well button to switch between list and thumbnail views.
A simple, but very welcome feature enhancement is the ability to resize an artboard from the center using the Artboard tool. Like working with shapes, if you press the Option (Mac OS) or Alt (Windows) key, then create (draw) or resize an artboard from one of the side handles of the artboard, it will resize from the center.
Pressing Opt+Shift (Mac OS) or Alt+Shift (Windows), while creating or resizing an artboard will constrain the width and height of the artbard while resizing from the centers.
Enhanced Windows support
Adobe Illustrator extends HiDPI support to Windows-based devices. You can now view Illustrator in enlarged mode, as per text size preferences on a high-resolution displays. This version of Illustrator CC now includes native support for Windows 8 -based input devices that support pressure feedback.
Import and Export Settings
Suppose that you work in Illustrator on a machine at work and a different machine at home. You can now export typical Illustrator settings, like general preferences, custom keyboard shortcuts (doesn’t work cross platform), color settings, workspaces, variable width profiles, user dictionaries and more.
By choosing Edit > My Settings > Export Settings, you can select a location, and then easily export an Illustrator settings package file.
This simple update changes the previous setting for changing opacity from a menu to a slider. You can find the new slider in the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency) or in the Opacity setting in the Control panel.
fill out the feature request/bug report form.
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