I don't really ever use this tool, myself, but it basically allows you to modify an open path while retaining the original "shape" of the path. A good way to illustrate this would be to take an S-shaped path and click on one of the end points with the Reshape Tool and start dragging it to see how it still maintains the general S-shape. This differs from using the Direct Selection Tool to modify paths in that the Reshape Tool will move other anchor points on the open path accordingly with where you drag the point you selected with the Reshape Tool. Plus, you don't have to click on an anchor with the Reshape Tool, you can click anywhere on the open path and drag.
Imagine it as a brush with a force field. Everything that is within the force field will be modified based on its original relation with respect to the intensity of the force field based on distance. The farther away, the less the influence and the less immediate the response.
The Reshape Tool is similar to Corel Draw's better Elastic Mode. It lets you manipulate a range of anchorPoints and curve handles in a progressive manner. The anchorPoint under your cursor is affected normally. Other anchorPoints within the selected range are affected progressively less according to their distance (along the path) from the one under the cursor.
It is not limited to working on open paths. On closed paths, just make sure at least one anchorPoint is not selected. Otherwise, the tool doesn't know where the "opposite end" of the range of selected points is.
See this PDF for an example.
It is particularly practical in drawing spring coils.
In your PDF example, how did you achieve the center spirol labeled "…three points dragged with the Reshape Tool"? I tried selecting various points and haven't been able to get the spiral to change direction in the middle, like your example.
Thanks for the tutorial and the info on using the Reshape Tool on closed paths. One thing I noticed in the spiral turtorial was that when I align the "invisible box" to the inside anchor point (using Smart Guides), it creates a small gap in the spiral when I apply the pattern brush (which makes sense after thinking about it, due to the fact that on an open path a stroke is centered on a path, by default). However, when I drag the invisible box to the very edge of the stroke, instead, it gets rid of the gap. In the attached example (spirals_example) the top spiral was created with a brush, in which the box was dragged to the edge of the stroke, while the bottom spiral was created with a brush, in which the box was dragged to the anchor point. I was also able to get rid of the gap by expanding the stroke prior to making the brush, but then when I do an Expand Appearance after applying the brush to a stroke, I end up with fills instead of multiple strokes, which limits the ability to create effects by reapplying the brush.
Message was edited by: gprobst
This is what i would do in that situation I would use the Effect>Distort and Transform>Transform to match the spiral elements together before making the brush. You only need two.
This spiral is not done well or to any form of isometric geometry but you get the idea.
You can expand the spiral and then join the two connecting anchor points. Then make tat a brush. Not sure this will work for you.
If you are super-careful, the coils will match up perfectly.
I'm using CS4, and the new ability to align anchor points is what made it possible. This is what I did . . .
After I created the coil, I selected the two end points on the coil and aligned them vertically.
In Outline view, I selected the top and bottom anchor points on the left edge of the rectangle and the left open end point on the coil, and aligned them vertically and horizontally.
Then, I selected the top and bottom anchor points on the right edge of the rectangle and the right open end point on the coil, and repeated the process to align them vertically and horizontally.
When I put the coil and rectangle into the Brushes panel, the repeated coils aligned just right.
Give it a try . . .
The problem was that I was being a dolt. I had the box aligned to the left anchor point, but the right-side of the box was aligned to the edge of the stroke instead of the actual anchor point. Once I fixed that, the coils matched up perfectly. Thanks for the tips.
I thought I knew a thing or two about Illustrator, but your explanations and examples have really impressed me. I not only "get" the Reshaping tool, but I am delighted with the practical application about the coil brush and how it was made. I never thought about the background rectangle and editing it to update the brush. Very clever indeed, and much appreciated! You folks never fail to amaze me!
Best to you,
Mike Witherell in Columbia, Maryland