July 12, 2010

Knife Tool In Illustrator

The Knife tool in Illustrator can be used to cut a shape into smaller segments. The tool can be used to cut straight lines, or make more freehand cuts.

The Knife tool is located in a different place depending on which version of Illustrator you have. Below, I have shown where the knife tool is located in CS2, CS3, CS4, & CS5.

CS2 CS3 CS4 CS5


I'm going to go over how to do 3 things with this tool:
I) Make a freehand cut
II) Make a straight line cut
III) Make a straight line cut on 90º angles

For all of these steps we're going to need to create a shape. In this example, I'm using a green box with a pink stroke.
I'm going to select the box, and then select my knife tool.
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I) Making a freehand Cut
Click and drag your knife tool over your shape.
Notice that you will now have two segments. In my example this is evident by the pink outline, around my newly created 2 shapes. You can now use your selection tool(the normal arrow) and move the pieces around.



II) Make a straight line cut
Hold down the Option keyand click and drag your knife tool over the shape. Notice that the line you are drawing is straight. No matter how wobbly your hand is, your line will be straightened. If you are a Windows user, press the Alt key instead of Option.

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III) Make a straight line cut on 90º angles
Hold down Option + Shift and click and drag your knife tool over the shape.
If your line is close to vertical, then it will snap to a perfectly vertical line. If it is close to 45º then it will snap to that angle. In my example the line I drew was closeto vertical, and I ended up with a perfectly vertical line! If you are a Windows user, press the Alt key instead of Option.
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Note:
Above, I stated that you must first select your shape. You do not have yourobjects selected for the knife tool to work. Simply dragging the knife tool over an object, selected or not, it will break that object into segments.

If you have 2 objects overlapping, or close to each other, the knife tool behaves differently.
With both objects selected, and you use the knife tool, they will both be cut as seen below.

In this example, I selected only the blue circle. When I drag the knife tool over the shapes, only the blue circle is affected.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making things easy to understand. I'm a long time Illustrator user, but I hadn't bothered to learn how to use the knife tool; I think I managed to confuse myself the only other time I tried. Your diagrams and explanation enabled me to use it right away and do what I needed to do. Thanks!

Dawson

Jennifer brown said...

Hi Dawson, I'm glad you found this useful!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for teaching this, glad to see a clear and efficient tutorial for once :)

peta@cz said...

Nice and clear explanation, thank you!

Leonard Zura said...

Very helpful. Simple and straight to the point :)

Norma Novy said...

Thanks for the simple and clear instructions. I have been a dedicated Freehand user but have upgraded my computer beyond it. I am now teaching myself Illustrator. I will be back again to your site. Thanks so much.
Norma

Anonymous said...

for some reason, I'm not able to get a straight line from the knife and cmd key together. Please help! thanks

Jennifer brown said...

For a straight line, you need to hold down the "Alt/Option" key. First, select your object, then press "Alt/Option". Click your mouse to start using the saw tool and you will have a straight line!

lifesblackblood said...

Thank you! This is much better than anything I found on Adobe or those terrible "howto" sites. Trust a graphic designer to be able to present an idea with clarity ;-)

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Julie Stafford said...

Hi Im trying to cut off an angled portion off a line to make it fit flush against another object; can't cut line with knife tool.

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Anonymous said...

ive tried your method but thee whole shape keeps moving

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