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In illustrator how do I disconnect the two handles?

Posted on 2009-03-29
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Last Modified: 2013-12-03
In freehand there was an option to set points so that the handles were fixed or seperated. Now I'm using Illustrator and I can't figure out how to disconnect my two handles from each other. I want to make a shape where the lines come to a point and then curve in different directions. Now whenever I try to move one of the handles, the other will move as well. How can I get these handles to move seperate of each other? Thanks.
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Question by:elliottbenzle
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by:David Brugge
ID: 24023157
Hi Elliott!

I'm really sorry no one has picked this up. Yes it can be done, but I am away from my own computer right now. I'll get you more details this evening.

BTW, are you on a Mac or a PC?
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Expert Comment

by:casinnola
ID: 24024815
Holding the Alt key while working with your handles allows you to work with them separately.
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by:casinnola
ID: 24024818
Alt = Option on a Mac, btw.
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by:casinnola
ID: 24024836
The Alt key modifier is only for if you're currently using the Pen tool, btw.

If you're going back and modifying an existing path (using the Direct Selection, "White Arrow" tool).

If you're modifying an existing path and you want to "reconnect" your two handles, use the Convert Anchor Point Tool (looks sort of like an upside-down letter V). Click and drag directly on the point with the Convert Anchor Point Tool and you'll once again have "connected" handles.
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David Brugge earned 500 total points
ID: 24024971
I'm back!

The type of point that you are refering to is called a compound point and for some reason, the folks at Adobe are very secretive about it. For instance, when you look at Illustrator's online help
http://help.adobe.com/en_US/InDesign/6.0/WSa285fff53dea4f8617383751001ea8cb3f-6c23a.html#WS5D46593F-4593-4f0c-A23F-81B9509450F2
They even have an example of a compound point (second illustration under "About direction lines and direction points" but don't give you a clue as to how to get a point to do that.

Here's the secret.
(But first, a little refresher)

As you know, when you are drawing and you lay down an anchor point it starts out as an end point. That is, if there was a curved section going into the point, it terminates there and any additional line coming from that point is a straight section.

If, however you drag your mouse when making that anchor point, it becomes a curve point. This is the kind of point that has the matching control handles going in each direction.

If you click on a straight point or a curved point and drag, the point becomes a simple curve point. HOWEVER if you HOLD DOWN THE Alt (on the Mac, the Control) KEY while you click on the point and start to drag, it becomes a compound point. The curved or straight line on one side of the point is compleately uneffected by the curve that you put on the other side of the anchor.

I hear you saying "That's good to know, but how do I split a curve anchor into a compound anchor?"

Not easiely. If Adobe has made an easy way to do this, it's gotten past me (which is always possible) You can't just click on an anchor and drag one control handle at a time, and using the Alt key is reserved of a different function. Instead, you have to delete one of the sections leading into the point and redraw it, this time, using the Alt key to put a compound point where you want it.

Hope this helps.

David b
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Expert Comment

by:David Brugge
ID: 24024983
whooo! I'm way to slow with my typing. I see others got the answer out before me. Oh well, now you get the jest.
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