2 Ways To Open A Closed Path In Illustrator

Open a closed path in Illustrator

If you’re working with a closed path in Illustrator and want to break the path to open it back up then today you’re in luck. In this tutorial we’ll be going over how to open a closed path in Illustrator. This can be done using the Direct Selection or Scissors tools.

There’s actually two different ways this can be accomplished. You can open a closed path at a specific anchor point by using the Direct Selection Tool, or you can use the Scissors Tool to open it at virtually any other point on the path. Let’s go over both.

Open A Closed Path In Illustrator

The following video tutorial will walk you through the entire process for both methods, step-by-step, and within 2 minutes:

Continue on if you prefer the written instructions.

Table of Contents

Open A Path At An Anchor Point

Open A Path Anywhere Else

Open A Path At An Anchor Point

To open a closed path at a specific anchor point, select the object and grab the Direct Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut: A) and click and drag over the anchor point you’d like to break. Then, click the Cut Path button in the tool settings menu to open the path.

Let’s first have a look at how to break a path based on an already existing anchor point using the Direct Selection method.

Step 1: Select the path you’d like to open

The first step is to make sure that you have your object selected. Click on your path using the standard Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut: V) to select it. You’ll know you have it select once you seed a blue bounding box around it with anchor points and transformation handles.

Step 2: Grab the Direct Selection Tool

With your path selected, access the Direct Selection Tool in the toolbar on the left-hand side of your screen, or by using the keyboard shortcut, which is the letter A.

Direct Selection Tool
The Direct Selection Tool allows you to select an anchor point to open your path at.

Step 3: Select the anchor point and click the Cut Path button in the tool settings menu

Next, select the anchor point where you’d like to open the path by clicking and dragging over it:

Select anchor point
Click and drag over a single anchor point to select it.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you only have a single anchor point selected.

With your anchor point selected, navigate to the tool settings menu towards the top of your screen and click the button that reads “Cut path at selected anchor points” when you hover your cursor over it:

Cut path
The “cut path” button will break the path at the selected point.

Although nothing has visibly changed on your screen, the path has been broken and is now open. You can confirm this by clicking once on one of the anchor points and then dragging it out of the way to see the break:

Moved anchor point
You can move the anchor point to confirm that the path has been opened.

Just make sure to Undo (Control + Z) to put the moved anchor point back in its original place.

Open A Path Anywhere Else

To open a closed path in Illustrator, select the object, grab the Scissors Tool (keyboard shortcut: C) and click anywhere on the path to cut it. A break will be added to the path, represented by anchor points that will serve as the start and end points of the path.

Now let’s have a look at how you can use the Scissors in Illustrator to open a closed path at virtually any point.

Step 1: Select the path you’d like to open

As we did for the first method, click on your object using the Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut: V) in order to select it. The blue bounding box and transformation handles in the corners will let you know that you have it selected.

Step 2: Grab the Scissors Tool

Next, grab the Scissors Tool from the tools menu on the left-hand side of your screen. It’s located where the Eraser is:

Scissors Tool
The Scissors Tool is hidden beneath the Eraser in the menu.

Alternatively, you can access this tool using the keyboard shortcut, which is the letter C.

Step 3: Click anywhere on the path to open it

With the Scissors Tool enabled, click once on the area of your path where you’d like to open it. You can choose any point of the path; it doesn’t have to be an anchor point.

Once clicked, you will see new anchor points added. This represents a break in the path where it is now open.

There are two anchor points added– once for the start point and one for the end point. You can move them out of the way using the Direct Selection Tool (keyboard shortcut: A) to confirm:

Breaking the path

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many ways to open a closed path in Illustrator. The Direct Selection and Scissor tools offer the quickest and easier solution though as they allow you to break paths virtually anywhere you like, and for the least amount of clicks.

If you have any questions or need clarification on any of the steps in this lesson, simply leave a comment below.

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