The inverse diffusion curve problem focuses on automatic creation of diffusion curve images that resemble user provided color fields. This problem is challenging since the 1D curves have a nonlinear and global impact on resulting color fields via a partial differential equation (PDE). We introduce a new approach complementary to previous methods by optimizing curve geometry. In particular, we propose a novel iterative algorithm based on the theory of shape derivatives. The resulting diffusion curves are clean and well-shaped, and the final image closely approximates the input. Our method provides a user-controlled parameter to regularize curve complexity, and generalizes to handle input color fields represented in a variety of formats.