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Transform objects

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Learn how to transform objects in Illustrator.

Move, rotate, reflect, scale, and shear objects using Illustrator Transform options. You can use the Transform commands and specialized tools or drag the bounding box.

Transform an object’s patterns

Use the Transform panel to view one or more selected objects' locations, sizes, and orientations. Type new values to modify the selected objects, their pattern fills, or both. You can also change the transformation reference point and lock the object's proportions.

When you move, rotate, reflect (flip), scale, or shear an object that is filled with a pattern, you can transform just the object, just the pattern, or both the object and pattern. Once you transform an object’s fill pattern, all patterns that you subsequently apply to that object are transformed the same way.

Transform panel
Transform panel

A. Reference point locator B. Panel menu C. Lock proportions icon 

  • You can specify the transform patterns by selecting an option from the Transform panel menu: Transform Object Only, Transform Pattern Only or Transform Both.
  • You can also set the Objects and Patterns options in the corresponding dialog box. For example, select Patterns and deselect Objects if you want to transform the pattern but not the object.
  • You can hold down the tilde key (~) while dragging with the transform tool to transform patterns but not objects. The object's borders may appear transformed, but when you release the mouse button, the borders snap back to their original configuration, leaving only the pattern transformed.
  • You can prevent patterns from transforming when using transform tools. Go to Edit > Preferences > General (Windows) or Illustrator > Preferences > General (macOS) and deselect Transform Pattern Tiles.
  • You can return an object's fill pattern to its original state by filling the object with a solid color and then reselecting the desired pattern.
  • You can use the Transform Again option in the Object menu to repeat a move, scale, rotate, reflect, or shear operation as often as you want until you perform a different transform operation.

Transform using the bounding box

You can easily move, rotate, duplicate, and scale objects by dragging the object or a handle of the bounding box.

  • To hide the bounding box, select View > Hide Bounding Box.
  • To show the bounding box, select View > Show Bounding Box.
  • To reorient the bounding box after you rotate it, select Object > Transform > Reset Bounding Box.
Transform using the bounding box
Selected objects before (left) compared to after (right) scaling using the bounding box

Tips and tricks

  • Beginning with the CC 2017 release, Illustrator features more predictable and precise functionality to draw art aligned with the pixel grid. See Draw pixel-perfect art for details.
  • The reference point locator in the Transform panel specifies an object’s reference point only when you transform the object by changing the values in the panel. Other methods of transforming (such as using the Scale tool) use the object’s center point or the pointer location as the reference point.

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