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.
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.
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.
For finer control over scaling, start dragging farther from the reference point.
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.
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.
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.
Shearing is useful for creating cast shadows.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- (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:
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.
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°.
Puppet Warp lets you twist and distort parts of your artwork, such that the transformations appear natural. You can add, move, and rotate pins to seamlessly transform your artwork into different variations using the Puppet Warp tool in Illustrator.
To learn how to distort your artwork using the Puppet Warp tool, see Puppet Warp.