Transforming Shapes

Welcome to the Transforming Shapes tutorial . This tutorial was designed to teach you how to modify and transform shapes with ease in Illustrator . If you need help with it, or find it confusing, don't hesitate to e-mail me, the information is at the bottom of the page.

This box was rotated 60° and sheared -30° using the pull-down menus from the Transform palette.

Experiment with this palette, often it's easier to use the Transform palette to create complex or precise transformations to your objects and shapes. Read on to step 2 to find out how to transform your objects with a lot more ease, using tools from the toolbar and short-cuts on your keyboard. 1 We'll start by exploring the most obvious part of Illustrator that is used to transform shapes and objects; the Transform palette. (below)

This is the Transform palette, it is used to make simple transformations to objects like those seen to the left. You can specify the position of the object by using the X and Y fields, and you can also change the size of the object by using the W(idth) and H(eight) fields.

This is the reference object, it enables you to specify where the object will be affected from. Click the box of your choice to activate it. In this case, if you rotate the object, it will be rotated around it's center point. Let's take a look at an example to find out the differences of rotating an object from different points. Both of these objects were rotated 45°

Notice how the center point for the box to the left didn't move, and neither did the left side of the box on the right, that's because this is where they were being rotated from, as we specified.

2 All the transformations that were made with the Transform palette can also be made with one tool called the Free Transform tool (), you may already be familiar with it from Photoshop. You can access this tool by selecting it from the toolbar, or by clicking on the shape/object you want to transform and pressing the "e" key on your keyboard. ( Photoshop Ctrl + T )

Once the Free Transform tool is active, you'll notice white boxes at the sides and corners of the shape as seen in the image to the left. If you place your mouse cursor over these, it will change indicating that you can edit the object from this point. Click and drag the sides or corners to modify the size of the box, and click and drag outside the corners of the box to rotate. (You could also use the Rotate tool to rotate)

3 The most common method for quickly editing the shape of and object is by using the Direct Selection tool (), which can be found in the toolbar. Place your mouse over one of the corner points, once you see a white box next to the cursor you can click and drag that point anywhere as shown in the image to the left.

There are a few other tools in the toolbar that I haven't mentioned like the Rotate tool () and the Scale tool (), these transformations can all be performed with the Free Transform tool. You can try out these tools if you want.

Quick Tip!
If you want to maintain proportions when scaling or creating shapes, hold the Shift key. If you want to create shapes from the center hold the Alt key.