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This is how to draw a curve in Adobe Acrobat

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170627-023056

For everyone out there who’s been searching for the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and how to draw a curve in Adobe Acrobat, then this is for you.

Of course, Acrobat is not a vector drawing program so there is no actual curve tool included in all the versions I’ve encountered, so how did I do this?

Needs curves!  Nice curves!

Yes, there IS a bit of trickery involved but the above curves were drawn very quickly, and using the normal drawing tools which you’ll find in Acrobat Professional/X.

I should add that I use Acrobat Pro Version 7 at home and both this version and Acrobat XI Professional in my day job. For any drawing work Acrobat X is far superior as the image editing in this version is streets ahead, but you can do this in Version 7 (which is far superior to Version X in other respects, such as batch processing speed, which is why I still use it).

Before continuing I should explain what we’re looking at here.

This is a drawing of the entrance to a car park. The yellow hatched area enclosed by the red line is the concrete entrance road, while the purple line is an underground cable duct. I needed to reduce the curvature of the kerb (the red line) to allow the cable duct to be routed around the edge of the concrete.

My first task was to reduce the radius of the kerb line and remove the old kerb line and shading, and the latter part of that task is much easier to do in Acrobat X by right-clicking on the page and choosing to edit images - selection and copying/resizing/deleting of existing drawing objects (such as the ones here which were created in AutoCad) is a lot easier, in fact there are things you can do in Acrobat X which you can’t in Version 7… but we’re using Version 7 in this example.

Drawing the curve

First I cheated - the actual curve I wanted was further up so selected the polygon line tool and carefully traced back up to the straight bit using very closely spaced points, and then quite a way up the straight to allow me to slide my nicely traced line down to where I wanted it.

image Clipboard03

This leaves us with a nicely curved line which you will may want to make a lot thinner than the minimum 0.5 pt thickness which is allowed when you first select and use the Polygon Line Tool. In my case I made it only a tenth of this thickness (0.05 pt) to match the existing red line by right-clicking on the curve and entering this value in the object’s Properties dialogue box.

Deleting the old curve

As I mentioned earlier it’s much easier to delete objects if you’re using Acrobat X but, even the, you may need to resort to some good old-fashioned covering up and for oddly shaped areas I use the Polygon Tool to draw a filled shape using the same fill and line colour as my page colour (so I use white, in most cases) simply to paint over what I don’t want.

I’ve left the opacity at 60% in this example, so you can still see what I’ve covered up - just set the opacity at 100% to hide the background completely. You may need to play around with the corner point positions and also the border width of the polygon (via the object’s Properties dialogue box, once again) to about going over the edges of things you want to remain.

Hiding the background using the Polygon Tool in Adobe Acrobat

Drawing a corner radius

Now, there are some people who may have resorted to using circles and then covering up the part you don’t need in order to create a corner radius (essentially a 90 degree arc) but this can get a little tricky if you have other objects in the way so what I did was to draw a suitably sized circle and position it where I wanted it, then traced over the part I wanted to keep using exactly the same technique as described above, then deleting the circle again to leave just an arc, as shown in the picture further up.

image

In conclusion

While it’s true that there are other ways to show curves in Acrobat these either involve other software than Acrobat, and something of a learning curve (no pun intended), or you can simply draw them in another program (such as Word) and then paste them into your PDF document but all of these ways are quite fiddly and time consuming compared to using the tools which many Acrobat users are already comfortable using - it’s just a matter of using what you’ve got in the right way and, as a long-time Acrobat user I think this technique is as simple as it gets .

You could just as easily trace over a pasted picture as a drawn circle so you can actually draw very complex curves this way, I think this is something which I’ll be using much more from now on.

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Support our caregiving

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.