We begin a new series of articles about the time-tested, but rarely used Adobe Illustrator tools. As far as possible, these articles will help beginners to reveal hidden potential in these tools. Let’s talk about the Knife Tool.
The tools panel is the most important interface in Adobe Illustrator graphic editor. It contains a lot of tools for creating and modifying images, vector objects, page elements, etc.
Each new release of Adobe Illustrator undergoes constant changes which aim to further improve the work with it. And these changes apply to the tools as well.
Along with the tools that have passed the test of time, there appear more and more new tools. And even now, we can assume that with the further development of the program there will appear more and more new tools, which at first glance appear to be exotic.
At the same time for the beginner, who reads official instructions, it is challenging to immediately understand the artful design of graphic icon of Tools panel to find the tools needed and solve the current issue quickly, since most of these manuals omit important details to save space.
This series of articles about the time-tested and rarely used tools with the collected information in it, kindly provided by experienced users, aims to help beginners to reveal the hidden potential of these tools as much as possible.
The Knife Tool
The Knife Tool relates to tools of object fragmenting. It is used for cutting or scoring of paths with the fill as well as closed paths with no fill. This tool works only in interactive mode (i.e., by moving the cursor).
The button for the Knife Tool in the tools panel is located in the same group with the Eraser Tool. The shortcut key is not assigned by default.
To select the tool, click on the Eraser Tool button and for a while keep the pointer selected, and after a window pops drag the pointer with a group of tools to the button of Knife Tool.
When the Knife Tool is on, it looks like a knife.
This tool cuts or incises filled path (or not filled, but closed) in the same way as a normal knife cuts items, and as the result of its use new closed paths are created.
Isolated from each other figures obtained in this way, are selected but not grouped.
An attempt to use the tool to open paths with no fill, as well as to other objects (pixel images, gradients, blends, and so on) won’t be successful.
To make a cut, or a path cut of the curved line, drag the pointer on the selected object, like a regular brush. (If nothing is selected, all paths will be cut (with the above properties) along pointer’s trajectory).
To cut in a straight line (not curved) hold Opt/Alt while dragging the pointer down.
Press and hold Shift in order to draw a line at an angle that is a multiple of 45°.
However, keep in mind:
- a simple path with a fill will be transformed into a compound path, if the incision line is located inside the path.
- when nothing is selected, the Knife tool affects all the paths, located directly under editable path. Every single path will be cut.
- when cutting an open path with fill, obtained paths will be closed.
- if you drag the pointer with the Knife Tool around opened paths with fill without cutting it will be closed.
The Knife Tool is one of a few tools in Illustrator, which has no settings. Therefore, the sensitivity of the tool (in addition to the move speed settings of the pointer in the operating system) is adjusted by changing the zoom.
You can also read the article How to close opened paths with the help of the Knife Tool Illustrator in vector artwork. As a preview, the Shutterstock image of the Swiss folding knife was used.