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Live Line Segment Tool for Illustrator Tutorial / How to use new live features in CC

line segment tool in Illustrator live

How to use the live line segment tool in Adobe Illustrator in CC 2017 2015 tutorial. The Illustrator live line segment tool can be found in the Illustrator toolbar of CC, it now supersedes the earlier line segment tool. The live line segment tool draws lines using the current stroke setting. The live line tool can be applied multiple times. It generates two points that can be modified in 1000s of ways using tools such as direct selection tool and curvature tool. It can be used to create dramatic artworks in seconds in Illustrator. It is also live and can be edited via the Illustrator properties panel. This tutorial shows you how to use the preferences for the live line segment tool, how to use with the tilde key, how to rotate, how to turn it into a regular line shape.

  1. Select the line segment tool in the Illustrator toolbar

  2. Set the stroke weight

  3. Set color

  4. Click artboard with tool

  5. Draw using the live line segment tool

Line segment tool / live tool

The Illustrator line segment tool is no longer the old tool from CS6 CS5 etc, it is now a live shape tool and as such it comes with a number of new features as well as a few features that have (at the present) vanished. Live shapes is the new concept for the CC that certain paths remain editable in such as circles / rectangles and now the line has joined the live category. I mean, it was always live before as you could always stretch the line and set the angle but you will see a few differences in the features.

Preferences for the Illustrator 'live' line segment tool

line segment illustrator tool and preferences

I generally go to the preferences section and set up the preferences for the smart guide to include most of the features. Smart guides can be very useful as well as baffling at times in that sometimes where you expect a smart guide you won't see it and in some places you will. I am certain the smart guides will grow and be added to over and over in the next few versions of AI and they are generally worth checking out. Set the transformation tools to on and construction guides.

 

You can use them without those set on as well.

Illustrator Toolbar and line segment tool

  1. Go to the toolbar and select the 'live' line segment tool

  2. set the stroke and width etc and add the path by clicking on a position on the artboard and then dragging the tool to another position on the artboard (near or far).

OK, not much different from before. You can still use the shift key at this point to constrain the angle to 45 degrees etc but weirdly this feature appears not to be available once the artwork is there on the artboard.

End points

line segment end point illustrator

You can select the end points and rotate and as you move the artwork you will see smart guides popping up saying certain distances from certain paths and not others as well as various alignments. You may or may not like that feature but personally, I think the info is useful and it is great to be able to select a certain point to stop moving the path or changing the angle. The reference point does not seem to have any use.

 

To extend the length of the line just select either end point and stretch out to the required point or go the other way to shrink the line. You can also change the angle via the transformations panel as well as change the length and position of the path via the top bar.

  1. create a number of line segment paths using the live segment tool (vertical lines)

  2. select the top point of first line

  3. hold the shift key

  4. drag the end point up or down (will be in straight line as on the right)

  5. repeat with the other line segment paths by selecting the top end point

 

You can also use the horizontal setting for the line (change the reference point to be the middle bottom)

Line rotation

line segment tool rotate

The rotate can be done as before by using the selection tool and having the control just close to the end point (above). You can constrain the angle of the rotation to 45 degrees etc

  1. Create a line segment path using the line segment tool

  2. 2Select the top end point

  3. Rotate

  4. Hold shift to constrain

 

Or use the transform panel to rotate the line

Tilde / grave key and the line segment tool in Illustrator

line segment tilde

You can apply the line segment tool with the tilde tool, please check out our tilde trick tutorial on this as it can be used to create 1000s of paths such as zoom or circular artworks

  1. Select the line segment tool in toolbar

  2. Select black for the color

  3. Set the stroke weight to 1

  4. Click artboard

  5. Draw

  6. Hold tilde key down

  7. Release mouse

Live shape / line segment tool

dash stroke added to line segment tool illustrator

You can still change the stroke width, add width profiles (which is quite useful with the stretch and shrink end points) as well as brushes, effects, appearances, styles etc and the path is still a live shape.

 

Actually, unlike some of the other live tools, it does seem that there is no way to break the live aspect so all the effects are changed as the length is changed of the tool.

  1. Select the line segment tool / live in Illustrator

  2. Create line

  3. Set the stroke weight

  4. Click stroke to display stroke panel

  5. Click dashed line

  6. Set dash to 5 and 10 etc

Layer panel

You will see the tool's generated path listed as a line and not a path.

 

You can also use the fact that is a different shape and use the selection to select the same shape option to capture all the identical types though it would be nice if there was a select rectangles and select ellipses etc feature as well (sadly, not)

  1. Create line using the live segment tool in Illustrator

  2. Go to the layers panel

  3. Expand layer

  4. See line displayed in the listing (not path etc)

How to stop it being a live shape

Use the Illustrator expand command but then it just becomes a fill. The solution is to go to the object menu and select the shape option and expand (you can also do the reverse with the convert command). You can, of course, just avoid the tool altogether and use the pen tool to create two points (always useful to have a number of features to create the same sort of thing)

  1. Select the live line segment

  2. Object menu

  3. Shape

  4. Expand shape

Finally with the line segment tool

I like the idea of the 'live' and I would love to see it extended to the polar grid, star etc but at the same time I would love to see an option to just use them as before. I would love to see to see the tilde feature restored as that is odd to see that removed.

 

I wish the center point would be a little more flexible and perhaps more informative as well - it is supposed to be smart.

 

Anyway, a good addition to Illustrator CC 2017 / 2015.1. If you want to see another implementation of this style of working I suggest you check out the excellent Astute Graphics' VectorScribe tool and their dynamic tool set as that comes with rings and stars and more. Affinity Designer also does a nice implementation as well.

Other tutorials

1. how to use blob brushes and join blobs etc tutorial

2. flare tool and light burst tutorial

3. wrinkle tool tutorial for amazing deformed designs

Sources and references

1) Line segment tool on Adobe.com