Adobe continues to refine its flagship illustration tool with Illustrator CC 2014, a minor update with just a handful of feature additions. Interestingly, many more new features were introduced to the vector app with the mid-cycle Illustrator CC 17.1 update in January. A number of these earlier additions merit discussion, and combined with the enhancements in CC 2014, they address one of the longest-standing complaints I've had with the application.
In my pastIllustrator reviews, I have consistently lamented the application's anemic object tools. Select the rounded rectangle tool, click the artboard and you'd be asked to specify the corner radius; once the radius was determined, it was locked in and uneditable. Stretch the object in one direction, and the corners would stretch and distort, too. Similarly, the star and polygon tools provided little in the way of settings, and those too were locked in once set. Creating a star with rounded corners or a polygon in the shape of gear was a logistical nightmare for even the most hardened Illustrator veterans.
Illustrator CC 17.1 (released in January) took the first step to addressing this issue. It introduced an incredible feature called Live Corners that lets users round, invert, or chamfer one or more corners of an object at a time. Stars can now have rounded corners with a few simple clicks. Create a star object and then choose the direct selection tool; when you do, a series of small control circles appear adjacent to each corner anchor. Drag a control circle and all corners in the object will change at the same time; option-click a control circle and the object will alternate between round, inverted round and chamfer corners. Don't want to apply changes to all corners at once? Just select one or more corner anchor at a time. And Live Corners aren't limited to star and polygons — any corner anchor in any object can be edited this way, including those in rectangles.
Unfortunately, rectangle corners in Illustrator CC 17.1 were still subject to distortion when stretched. That's been addressed in Illustrator CC 2014 with a new feature called Live Shapes, which adds a layer of intelligence to rectangle objects. As with live corners, the corners of rectangles can be easily configured with round, inverted round, or chamfer corners of any size, and by selecting a single corner anchor, you can edit each one individually. However, you're now free to resize, rotate and stretch the rectangle as you wish without distorting the corners. Options in the Transform panel allow you to specify the corners' radius and shape, and you can also choose whether you'd like the corners to scale when resized.
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