Smart Remove Brush Tool Operation

After selecting the Smart Remove Brush tool, first adjust its size (either through the preferences dialog or by using the keys assigned to “Increase Tool Diameter” and “Decrease Tool Diameter” in Illustrator’s Keyboard Shortcuts dialog, just as with other brush tools). The circle surrounding the crosshair cursor reflects the current size of the brush.

To use the tool on a path, simply brush over the areas of the selected path(s) where you want to remove anchor points. Each path’s new virtual shape is continually displayed in red, allowing you to see how much it has changed with the removal of the points.

Smart Remove Brush Tool Overview

Smart Remove Brush Tool Overview

For each anchor point that falls within the brush circle, the tool decides based on its current parameters whether it will be removed or not (in all cases, when a point is removed, the path’s geometry is kept as close to the original as possible). First, if an anchor point is selected, and the Shift key is being held down, the point is considered protected and is never removed. Then, if the Ignore Tolerance preference is enabled, the point is always removed. Otherwise, the amount of distortion that would result if the point were removed is calculated and compared to the current tolerance value. If the amount is below the tolerance value, the point is removed.

It is best to start with a low tolerance value and slowly increase it if the path still has too many anchor points. The default tolerance of value of 10 generally works well with most paths, but higher values can aggressively remove more anchor points when exact path geometry is not critical.

While dragging the Smart Remove Brush tool, several keys may be pressed to change parameters on the fly or change functionality. As with all Astute tool keypresses, these will be indicated on the Astute Buddy panel.

Shift: Protects selected points (keeps them from being removed). This is useful for preserving specific anchor points without having to carefully dodge around them with the brush:

Smart Remove preserving specific anchor points

Smart Remove preserving specific anchor points

Option/Alt: Temporarily inverts the Ignore Tolerance preference. That is, if Ignore Tolerance is disabled (tolerance is being used), and the Option/Alt key is pressed, the tool will temporarily ignore the tolerance value, removing any anchor points which fall within the brush circle regardless of how it causes the path geometry to change. This can be useful, in conjunction with the S key (see below), for “forcing” a point to be removed.

Space: Hides the annotations.

Up Arrow/Down Arrow: Changes the tolerance value, from 1 to 100. Anchor points which have already been brushed over and are no longer in the brush circle will not be re-evaluated when the tolerance value is changed on the fly, allowing you to brush different areas of a path with different tolerances.

Left Arrow/Right Arrow: Changes diameter of the brush, from 1 pixel to 2500 pixels. The “Increase/Decrease Tool Diameter” keys can also be used.

S: Temporarily changes the brush size to a small value (19 pixels). This is useful when used in conjunction with Option/Alt (see above) for forcing the removal of specific points regardless of the current tolerance value.