Scale objects

Scaling an object enlarges or reduces it horizontally (along the x axis), vertically (along the y axis), or both. Objects scale relative to a reference point which varies depending on the scaling method you choose. You can change the default reference point for most scaling methods, and you can also lock the proportions of an object.

Note:

After you scale an object, Illustrator does not retain the original size of the object in memory. Therefore, you cannot resume the original size of the object. However, you can see the resolution of the object in the Document Info panel and decide on the scale at which you want to resize the object, while retaining the object’s resolution.

By default, strokes and effects are not scaled along with objects. To scale strokes and effects, choose Edit > Preferences > General (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > General (Mac OS), and select Scale Strokes & Effects. If you want to choose whether to scale strokes and effects on a case-by-case basis, use the Transform panel or the Scale command to scale objects.

Scale objects
The Scale Strokes & Effects option scales the object, the drop shadow effect, and the stroke (left); only the object scales when this option is off (right).

Scale objects with the Scale tool

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. Select the Scale tool .
  3. Do any of the following:
    • To scale relative to the object’s center point, drag anywhere in the document window until the object is the desired size.

    • To scale relative to a different reference point , click where you want the reference point to be in the document window, move the pointer away from the reference point, and then drag until the object is the desired size.

    • To maintain the object’s proportions as it scales, hold down Shift as you drag diagonally.

      Tip: While using the Scale tool with the Shift key, start dragging at an angle of 45° horizontally or vertically but in an angle.

    • To scale the object along a single axis, hold down Shift as you drag vertically or horizontally.

    Note:

    For finer control over scaling, start dragging farther from the reference point.

Scale objects with the bounding box

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. Select the Selection tool or the Free Transform tool .
  3. Drag a bounding box handle until the object is the desired size.

    Objects scale relative to the opposite handle of the bounding box.

  4. Do any of the following to control the scaling behavior:
    • To maintain the object’s proportions, hold down Shift as you drag.

    • To scale relative to the object’s center point, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) as you drag.

Scale objects to a specific width and height

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. In the Transform panel, enter a new value in the Width (W) or Height (H) box, or both.

    You can do any of the following before you enter a value to control the scaling behavior:

    • To maintain the objects’ proportions, click the lock proportions button .

    • To change the reference point for scaling, click a white square on the reference point locator .

    • To scale stroked paths and any size-related effects along with the object, select Scale Strokes & Effects from the panel menu.

Note:

You can also maintain proportions by entering a value in the W or H box, and then pressing Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) while you press Enter.

Scale objects by a specific percentage

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To scale from the center, choose Object > Transform > Scale or double-click the Scale tool .

    • To scale relative to a different reference point, select the Scale tool and Alt‑click (Windows) or Option‑click (Mac OS) where you want the reference point to be in the document window.

  3. In the Scale dialog box, do one of the following:
    • To maintain the object’s proportions as it scales, select Uniform, and enter a percentage in the Scale text box.

    • To scale the height and width separately, select Non-Uniform, and enter a percentage in the Horizontal and Vertical text boxes.

      The scale factors are relative to the reference point and can be negative or positive.

  4. To scale stroked paths and any size-related effects along with the object, select Scale Strokes & Effects.
  5. If the objects contain a pattern fill, select Patterns to scale the pattern. Deselect Objects if you want to scale the pattern but not the objects.
  6. Click OK, or click Copy to scale a copy of the objects.

Scale multiple objects

  1. Select the objects.
  2. Choose Object > Transform > Transform Each.

    Note:

    You cannot enter a specific width for scaling multiple objects. In Illustrator, you can only scale objects in percentage measurements.

  3. Set percentages for horizontal and vertical scaling in the Scale section of the dialog box.
  4. To change the reference point, click a white square on the reference point locator .
  5. Click OK, or click Copy to scale a copy of each object.

Shear objects

Shearing an object slants, or skews, the object along the horizontal or vertical axis, or a specified angle that’s relative to a specified axis. Objects shear relative to a reference point which varies depending on the shearing method you choose and can be changed for most shearing methods. You can lock one dimension of an object as you shear it, and you can shear one object or multiple objects simultaneously.

Note:

Shearing is useful for creating cast shadows.

Shear objects
Shearing relative to the center (left) compared to shearing relative to a user-defined reference point (right)

Shear objects with the Shear tool

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. Select the Shear tool .
  3. Do one of the following:
    • To shear relative to the object’s center, drag anywhere in the document window.

    • To shear relative to a different reference point , click anywhere in the document window to move the reference point, move the pointer away from the reference point, and then drag until the object is at the desired slant.

    • To shear along the object’s vertical axis, drag anywhere in the document window in an up or down direction. To constrain the object to its original width, hold down Shift.

    • To shear along the object’s horizontal axis, drag anywhere in the document window in a left or right direction. To constrain the object to its original height, hold down Shift.

Shear objects with the Shear command

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To shear from the center, choose Object > Transform > Shear or double-click the Shear tool .

    • To shear from a different reference point, select the Shear tool and Alt‑click (Windows) or Option‑click (Mac OS) where you want the reference point to be in the document window.

  3. In the Shear dialog box, enter a shear angle from ‑359 to 359. The shear angle is the amount of slant applied to the object in a clockwise direction and is relative to a line that’s perpendicular to the shear axis.
  4. Select the axis along which to shear the object.

    If you chose an angled axis, enter a value between –359 and 359, relative to the horizontal axis.

  5. If the objects contain a pattern fill, select Patterns to move the pattern. Deselect Objects if you want to move the pattern but not the objects.
  6. Click OK, or click Copy to shear a copy of the objects.

Shear objects with the Free Transform tool

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. Select the Free Transform tool .
  3. Do one of the following:
    • To shear along the object’s vertical axis, start dragging the middle-left or middle-right bounding-box handle, and then hold down Ctrl+Alt (Windows) or Option+Command (Mac OS) as you drag up or down. You can also hold down Shift to constrain the object to its original width.

    • To shear along the object’s horizontal axis, start dragging the top-middle or bottom-middle bounding-box handle and then hold down Ctrl+Alt (Windows) or Option+Command (Mac OS) as you drag right or left. You can also hold down Shift to constrain the object to its original height.

Shear objects with the Transform panel

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. In the Transform panel, enter a value in the Shear text box.

    To change the reference point, click a white square on the reference point locator  before you enter the value.

    Note:

    You can also call up the Transform panel by clicking X, Y, W, or H in the Control panel.

Distort objects

You can distort objects by using the Free Transform tool or a liquify tool. Use the Free Transform tool when you want to distort freely; use a liquify tool if you want to take advantage of specific preset distortions such as twirls, puckers, or wrinkles.

Distort objects with the Free Transform tool

  1. Select one or more objects.
  2. Select the Free Transform tool .
  3. Start dragging a corner handle on the bounding box (not a side handle), and then do one of the following:
    • Hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) until the selection is at the desired level of distortion.

    • Hold down Shift+Alt+Ctrl (Windows) or Shift+Option+Command (Mac OS) to distort in perspective.

       

    Distorting in perspective
    Distorting in perspective

Distort objects using a liquify tool

You cannot use liquify tools on linked files or objects that contain text, graphs, or symbols.

To find liquify tools in the Tools panel, see Tools panel overview and Reshaping tool gallery.

  1. Select a liquify tool, and click or drag over the objects you want to distort.
  2. (Optional) To isolate the distortion to specific objects, select the objects before using the tool.
  3. (Optional) To change the size of the tool cursor and set other tool options, double-click the liquify tool and specify any of the following:

    Width and Height

    Controls the size of the tool cursor.

    Angle

    Controls the orientation of the tool cursor.

    Intensity

    Specifies the rate of change for the distortion. Higher values equal faster changes.

    Use Pressure Pen

    Uses the input from a tablet or pen instead of the Intensity value. If you don’t have a pressure-sensitive tablet attached, this option is dimmed.

    Complexity (Scallop, Crystallize, and Wrinkle tools)

    Specifies how closely the results of the particular brush are spaced on the object’s outline. This is closely tied with the Detail value.

    Detail

    Specifies the spacing between points introduced into the object’s outline (higher values space points closer together).

    Simplify (Warp, Twirl, Pucker, and Bloat tools)

    Specifies how much you want to reduce the superfluous points that do not measurably affect the overall appearance of the shape.

    Twirl Rate (Twirl tool only)

    Specifies the rate at which the twirl is applied. Enter a value between –180° and 180°. Negative values twirl the object clockwise and positive values twirl counterclockwise. The object twirls faster with values that are closer to either –180° or 180°. To twirl slowly, specify a rate close to 0°.

    Horizontal and Vertical (Wrinkle tool only)

    Specifies how far apart the control points are placed.

    Brush Affects Anchor Points, Brush Affects In Tangent Handles, or Brush Affects Out Tangent Handles (Scallop, Crystallize, Wrinkle tools)

    Enables the tool brush to make changes to these properties.

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