Transforming and Distorting Shapes

You can easily modify an object’s size, orientation, or shape by using tools and commands. You can also apply filters and effects to change an object’s shape and path direction. And, by working with more than one object at a time, you can create complex designs using compound paths and masks.

Transforming selected objects

You can transform selected objects—that is, change their size, shape, and orientation by selecting one or more objects and then applying various transformation actions on them. For example, you can change the angle of an object by rotating it, or add perspective to an object by shearing it.

To transform an object, you can use the free transform tool, individual transformation tools, or the Transform palette:

  • Use the free transform tool to rotate, scale, reflect, shear, and distort objects quickly.
  • Use the transformation tools to change the size, shape, and orientation of selected objects. The transformation tools are the rotate tool, scale tool, reflect tool, and shear tool. You can also use individual transform dialog boxes to specify numeric values, to preview the transformation before applying it, and to select other transformation options.

Use the Transform palette to modify selected objects by changing information in the palette. As you transform objects, keep the following in mind:

  • Transformation dialog boxes and commands can be opened for selected objects by using context-sensitive menus. To display context sensitive menus, hold down the right mouse button (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) when the pointer is over the object.
  • You can move and duplicate selected objects by using the bounding box.

Defining the point of origin

All transformation actions perform their functions in relation to some fixed point on or around the object. This fixed point is called the point of origin. The default point of origin is the object’s center point. You can drag anywhere on an object with the free transform tool or an individual transformation tool to transform the object around the object’s center. For example, you can drag an object to rotate it around its center, or you can set a new point of origin by clicking and then dragging to rotate it. You can also click a point of origin that you have set, and then drag it to a new position.


Object scaled from center and from new point of origin

When you transform an object or objects, the changes take place horizontally (along the x axis), vertically (along the y axis), or along both axes.

Rotating an object turns it around a fixed point that you designate. The default point of origin is the object’s center point. Copying while rotating is a useful way to create radially symmetrical objects, such as the petals of a flower.

To rotate with the bounding box:

  1. With the selection tool, select the object or objects to rotate.
  2. Move the pointer near a handle so that the pointer changes to a curve with arrows on both ends.
  3. Drag the handle.

To rotate with the free transform tool:

  1. With the selection tool (↖), select the object or objects to rotate.
  2. Select the free transform tool ( ).
  3. Position the pointer anywhere outside the bounding box. The pointer changes to (↖).
  4. Drag until the selection is at the desired angle of rotation.

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