Tip #805: Control the Shape of Path Curves

… for Apple Motion

Tip #805: Control the Shape of Path Curves

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Curves are shaped by the white Bezier control handles revealed by the Edit Points tool.

Unlinked Bezier control handles changing the shape and smoothness of a curve.

Topic $TipTopic

Using either the Pen or Paint Brush tools, we can create paths in Motion. The Pen tool creates a path, while the Paint Brush tool creates a path then decorates it with a shape style.

The trick, as with all path tools, is in how you create corners. When using the Pen tool to create a path, click to create a corner, or click and drag to create a curve. However, what happens if you don’t like the shape of the curve? Change to the Edit Points tool, then Control-click on a corner dot in the path.

This displays a menu allowing you to convert a corner to a smooth curve, or a smooth curve back to a corner.

When a corner is converted to a smooth curve, two white lines appear with a dot at each end. These are called “Bezier control handles.”

Drag the dots closer together to change the smoothness of the curve. Change the angle to change the shape of the curve.


  • Press Option and drag to just change one dot. This also disconnects (“Breaks”) the two dots even when you no longer press the Option key.
  • Press Shift to constrain the movement of a dot.
  • Control-click a white dot to Link or break a dot, as well as align the two dots back into a straight line.

Watch how the curve changes as you adjust each dot by itself.

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