How to Round and Smooth Corner Angles in Adobe Illustrator

As a graphic designer with over 10 years of experience using Adobe Illustrator, I often need to adjust the corner angles of shapes to make them smoother or more rounded. This is useful for creating icons, logos, banners, infographics, and any other design where you want softer, friendlier edges.

In this comprehensive tutorial, I’ll walk through multiple methods to round corners and smooth angles in Illustrator, from basic to more advanced. I’ll also share tips and tricks I’ve learned from real-world projects to help you work faster and achieve better results.

Adjust Corner Widget

The fastest way to adjust a corner is using the direct selection tool to grab the anchor point’s corner widget. Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Select the shape layer and grab the direct selection tool (white arrow)
  • Step 2: Hover over a corner until you see the corner widget appear
  • Step 3: Click and drag the corner widget inward to round the corner or outward to sharp the corner

This takes just seconds and gives you very intuitive corner control. You can round one side more than the others for angled corners too.

Pro Tip: Hold shift while dragging the corner widget to constrain the adjustment and keep the corner at 90 or 45 degrees.

Round Corner Effect

For more precision, use the round corner effect to specify an exact corner radius.

  • Step 1: Select the shape and go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners
  • Step 2: Enter the desired Corner Radius in points (higher = more rounded)
  • Step 3: Click OK

This effects panel also lets you preview your changes before applying. Very handy for testing different radii quickly.

Pro Tip: Set the radius high initially, then reduce it to fine tune rather than applying the effect multiple times.

Draw With Rounded Rectangle Tool

If you’re starting from scratch, the rounded rectangle tool lets you draw a shape with rounded corners built-in.

  • Step 1: Select the rounded rectangle tool
  • Step 2: Click and drag to draw the shape
  • Step 3: In the toolbar, adjust the corner Radius % higher or lower

You can always go back later with the direct selection tool and grab the corner widgets to customize the corners individually.

Pro Tip: Use the ellipse tool instead for shapes with the same corner roundness all the way around.

Live Corners Panel

For the most control over corner rounding, use the live corners panel to adjust the corner radius numerically on a per-corner basis.

  • Step 1: Select the shape layer
  • Step 2: Open the live corners panel (Window > Live Corners)
  • Step 3: Increase the radius of each corner individually

The live corners panel also lets you change the corner type, such as round, inverted round, chamfered and more. This is extremely useful for adding angled corners to create more dynamic shapes.

Pro Tip: Click the chain icon in the panel to unlink corners and adjust them independently, great for angled edges.

Smooth and Simplify Paths

If your shape has jagged edges from combining different vector paths, you can smooth and simplify it for better print results and faster on-screen rendering.

Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Select the vector shape layer
  • Step 2: Go to Object > Path > Simplify to reduce anchor points
  • Step 3: Use Object > Path > Smooth to soften the edges

I recommend tweaking the tolerance levels in these effects to smooth your vectors while retaining their core shape. Too much simplification can distort your design.

Pro Tip: Try expanding your shape into a compound path first for more smoothing control.

Best Practices for Smoother Vectors

With practice, you can streamline your workflow to create smoother shapes right from the start. Here are my top tips:

  • Use ellipse and polygon tools instead of drawing freehand with the pen
  • Keep paths as simple as possible, combine shapes later
  • Draw larger than final size, scale down for anti-aliasing
  • Expand strokes to combine with fills for more smoothing options
  • Work in Outlines view mode to inspect corners closely

Following these best practices will help you avoid overworking your vectors to get perfect corners.

The key is constructing clean vector paths, understanding the different corner options, and fine-tuning at the end for polished results. With all the techniques covered, you have total flexibility to round any corner angle in Illustrator quickly.