Question for Illustrator gurus: editing handles

Hey folks, I’m tearing my hair out here. I’m an old time Illustrator CS5 user who recently upgraded to the most recent CC version and apparently editing curves has changed a bit since then. I just can’t figure out how to solve this issue.

I created a hand-drawn figure and autotraced it. The resulting (filled, no strokes) figure has a lot of anchor points where two handles are overlapping and locked together such that I can’t select the one I want and edit just that curve; what happens is both curves get selected:

The indicated handle is the one I want to select and move independently and I can’t. When I try to move it, both upper and lower curves move and not in the directions I want. Also, if I try to change the lower curve by dragging just the path (with the Direct Selection tool), the whole figure gets messed up with the opposite path also changing. What the heck is going on here?

Here’s a piece of the file if you want to have a go: (1.5 MB)

Strangely, if I do a Pathfinder operation on it (I tried Divide, with a square superimposed), parts of the resulting bits are now operating independently like I expect. My head is spinning! I did search the web but didn’t find anything covering this.

Edit: Never mind. It’s working now. I think my instance of Illustrator was misbehaving for a while.


In inkscape, you have to tell it what kind of node it is. Is it a Corner? Symmetrical? Smooth? Corner nodes can have the handles manipulated independently. I’m sure there’s an AI equivalent, that’s what I would look for.

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Cntrl+shift+C ( Command+shift+C on a mac) I think it is opens up the handle tool. It looks like a lined triangle missing one side. It allows you to adjust the handles independently of the anchor point and opposing handle. Give that a shot. I’m not on my computer so I can’t verify the shortcut.


Shift+c for the Anchor Point Tool can break the handles apart or tie them together I believe. Sorry I don’t have more specifics, my right hand does this on autopilot and I’m not at computer right now.

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@AJ.Obando and @ekla, thank you so much for these shortcuts! I looked at a number of keyboard shortcut lists and didn’t see these, and the Creative Cloud tutorials for Illustrator don’t go to this level of detail. Where would I find a summary of similar tips?

I’ve been a graphic designer for almost 20 years. I’m not really sure where I learned it. Guess, just keep at it, you’ll learn as you go.


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