Tangent Circles in Illustrator


As many graphic designers will tell you, one of the most irritating missing features in Adobe Illustrator is the ability to snap to tangents. There are some workarounds for crating tangent lines, but when it comes to more complex curves the two options are generally either manual calculations or making things look “close enough.” But performing mathematical operations on every shape in a complex object is extremely time-consuming and my perfectionist brain simply can’t accept “close enough.” Take, for example, the image above which is a screen capture from an un-finished project of mine. The shape I am creating, while simple in conception, is comprised of many intersecting curves. Normally to create such a shape I’d either have to align the circles manually and hope it looks right or use Illustrator’s “round corners” effect which, frankly, never gives properly accurate results and is a pain to use. Thankfully, I recently found a great free Illustrator plugin that lets you easily create tangent curves using a variety of methods, making the process of creating such shapes much easier. Even better, the plugin covers a wide range of operations that go beyond creating tangent shapes making it a must-have for any serious designer’s toolkit. Check out the demo video after the jump and be sure to grab the plugin here.

Tangent Circles in Illustrator

2 thoughts on “Tangent Circles in Illustrator

    1. I agree. They started to improve with the newest release of CC that includes smart corners, allowing for tangent curves at straight corners. But it still doesn’t help with complex curves. This plugin has become an essential part of my daily workflow. I find having a knowledge of geometry allows you to circumvent a lot of the shortcomings in Illustrator.

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