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Aligning objects and groups precisely

From: Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

Video: Aligning objects and groups precisely

We know that in Illustrator, I can turn on rulers and then drag out a whole bunch of guides to help me align my artwork. However, there is some really powerful and useful align commands that you can apply inside of Illustrator without requiring the use of guides at all. You'll notice that whenever you have multiple objects selected, in this case I'll click on these two objects right here, Illustrator inside the Control panel will display many different icons here, which allow you to perform various alignment commands. For example, I can look at these buttons right here, which allow me to align to Top, Middle or Bottom.

Aligning objects and groups precisely

We know that in Illustrator, I can turn on rulers and then drag out a whole bunch of guides to help me align my artwork. However, there is some really powerful and useful align commands that you can apply inside of Illustrator without requiring the use of guides at all. You'll notice that whenever you have multiple objects selected, in this case I'll click on these two objects right here, Illustrator inside the Control panel will display many different icons here, which allow you to perform various alignment commands. For example, I can look at these buttons right here, which allow me to align to Top, Middle or Bottom.

However, before I do that I need to tell Illustrator exactly what I want to align these objects to. If you take a look at this icon right here, you can see that, by default, Illustrator here has something called Align to Artboard. That means if I go ahead now and I perform any kind of alignments, these objects will align themselves to the artboard itself. So if I choose Align to Top over here, notice they'll both snap to the top of my artboard. If I choose Bottom, they'll go to the bottom of my artboard. I am going to press Undo two times right here to go back where it was before, and I am now going to change this option to Align to Selection.

Now I have both of these objects selected. If I chose Align to Top, Illustrator will find the object that's already at the highest level, and it will bring up any other object to match it. So if I choose Align to Top now, I get this result. I am going to press Undo for a moment, because if I align to the bottom Illustrator now moves the other object because this object was already towards the bottom of the selection. Of course, I can apply this across many objects. So if I select all of these elements right here, I can choose to align them to their centers, very easily.

Now you notice, by the way, that all the icons that were originally here kind of shifted now to this part of the Control panel. That happens because the Control panel itself is context-sensitive, and it will often make room for features that have things that you might want to apply. However, many times it might just be easier to open up the Align panel directly. You can do that by going to the Window menu and then choosing Align. Now if we go back to this icon over here for a moment, we do see there is one other option here. It's called Align to Key Object. But I'll tell you that I never choose that option because there is a way to get that behavior without having to come to this setting.

I am going to leave everything right now set to Align to Selection, and I am going to deselect my artwork. Let's go ahead and move a few of these around. I am going to move this one down here, this one up right up over here, and I now want to align these objects all according to their tops. So I am going to select all of this artwork, and I know that if I now choose to align everything to the top over here, since this object right now is already at the top, all of the other objects are going to move up to match it. Let me press Undo for a second. Let's say I really like where this object is right now, and I want all my objects to be aligned according to their tops, but I want them to all match the top of this object right here.

So what I can go is once I've made my selection, I'm going to use my regular Selection tool here, and I don't have my hand in the Shift key. I am just going to click ones on this object. Notice how now a thicker blue border now appears around this piece of art. That means I've just identified this object as a key object. In fact, if you look at the icon right now in the Control panel, you'll see a little icon of the key because Illustrator now automatically activated that setting for me. So I didn't have to do it myself.

Now that I have defined this object as a key object, I can perform the Align command and everything now correctly aligned itself to that one key object. I am going to press Undo for a moment here because I just want you to realize that it's very easy to redefine this key object as you need to. If I select all my artwork, and I click on this object because I want it to be the key object, but now I realize you know what, now I want this one to be the key object. Just simply click on it, and that will now redefine this object as the key object and when I choose to Align Objects, it aligns directly to that key object.

It's important to realize that when you're using the Align Objects commands, Illustrator treats groups as if they were individual objects. So if you have some artwork like in this case here, where I want to align these objects that are really made up of many objects inside of it, I need to first define them each as groups, and then the align commands will see each group as if they were one single object. Otherwise, Illustrator would try to actually align all of these objects that appear inside of this artwork.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

126 video lessons · 83121 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Illustrator CS5?
      1m 46s
    3. Using the exercise files
      31s
  2. 12m 37s
    1. What are vector graphics?
      6m 3s
    2. Path and appearance
      3m 42s
    3. Stacking
      2m 52s
  3. 32m 6s
    1. The Welcome screen
      2m 23s
    2. Creating files for print
      6m 7s
    3. Creating files for the screen
      2m 55s
    4. Using prebuilt templates
      2m 40s
    5. Adding XMP metadata
      4m 18s
    6. Exploring the panels
      6m 33s
    7. Using the Control panel
      3m 11s
    8. Using workspaces
      3m 59s
  4. 43m 44s
    1. Navigating within a document
      9m 15s
    2. Using rulers and guides
      7m 26s
    3. Using grids
      3m 6s
    4. Using the bounding box
      3m 37s
    5. Using Smart Guides
      5m 56s
    6. The Hide Edges command
      3m 22s
    7. Various preview modes
      3m 47s
    8. Creating custom views
      4m 3s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 12s
  5. 28m 46s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      8m 50s
    2. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 22s
    3. Using the Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    4. Selecting objects by attribute or type
      3m 37s
    5. Saving and reusing selections
      2m 15s
    6. Selecting artwork beneath other objects
      2m 13s
    7. Exploring selection preferences
      4m 1s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 52s
    2. Drawing closed path primitives
      11m 38s
    3. Drawing open path primitives
      5m 47s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      3m 43s
    5. Drawing straight paths with the Pen tool
      7m 37s
    6. Drawing curved paths with the Pen tool
      9m 47s
    7. Drawing freeform paths with the Pencil tool
      5m 33s
    8. Smoothing and erasing paths
      3m 8s
    9. Editing anchor points
      7m 21s
    10. Joining and averaging paths
      10m 9s
    11. Simplifying paths
      4m 55s
    12. Using Offset Path
      2m 17s
    13. Cleaning up errant paths
      2m 32s
  7. 48m 26s
    1. The Draw Inside and Draw Behind modes
      7m 34s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 56s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      8m 0s
    4. Using the Shape Builder tool
      10m 28s
    5. Using Pathfinder functions
      8m 6s
    6. Splitting an object into a grid
      1m 16s
    7. Using the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      7m 6s
  8. 49m 5s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 2s
    2. Creating area text
      8m 13s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      7m 44s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 28s
    5. Creating text threads
      8m 25s
    6. Setting text along an open path
      6m 29s
    7. Setting text along a closed path
      6m 24s
    8. Converting text into paths
      3m 20s
  9. 18m 55s
    1. Create a logo mark
      11m 26s
    2. Add type to your logo
      7m 29s
  10. 42m 42s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      8m 21s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      4m 42s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      4m 25s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      5m 18s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 42s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      4m 33s
    7. Copying appearances
      4m 51s
    8. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      5m 50s
  11. 34m 0s
    1. Applying color to artwork
      5m 57s
    2. Creating process and global process swatches
      8m 54s
    3. Creating spot color swatches
      3m 19s
    4. Loading PANTONE and other custom color libraries
      4m 49s
    5. Organizing colors with Swatch Groups
      3m 31s
    6. Finding color suggestions with the Color Guide panel
      4m 24s
    7. Loading the Color Guide with user-defined colors
      3m 6s
  12. 50m 23s
    1. Creating gradients with the Gradient panel
      8m 12s
    2. Modifying gradients with the Gradient Annotator
      4m 37s
    3. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      5m 33s
    4. Defining your own custom pattern fills
      9m 13s
    5. Applying basic stroke settings
      5m 22s
    6. Creating strokes with dashed lines
      3m 41s
    7. Adding arrowheads to strokes
      2m 45s
    8. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 35s
    9. Working with width profiles
      2m 36s
    10. Turning strokes into filled paths
      3m 49s
  13. 32m 46s
    1. Creating and editing groups
      8m 18s
    2. Adding attributes to groups
      12m 17s
    3. The importance of using layers
      5m 9s
    4. Using and "reading" the Layers panel
      7m 2s
  14. 12m 13s
    1. Creating and using multiple artboards
      7m 52s
    2. Modifying artboards with the Artboards panel
      2m 2s
    3. Copy and paste options with Artboards
      2m 19s
  15. 31m 10s
    1. Moving and copying artwork
      3m 55s
    2. Scaling or resizing artwork
      6m 47s
    3. Rotating artwork
      2m 44s
    4. Reflecting and skewing artwork
      2m 34s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 15s
    6. Repeating transformations
      3m 39s
    7. Performing individual transforms across multiple objects
      2m 10s
    8. Aligning objects and groups precisely
      4m 27s
    9. Distributing objects and spaces between objects
      2m 39s
  16. 35m 40s
    1. Placing pixel-based content into Illustrator
      5m 14s
    2. Managing images with the Links panel
      4m 49s
    3. Converting pixels to paths with Live Trace
      8m 44s
    4. Making Live Trace adjustments
      6m 9s
    5. Controlling colors in Live Trace
      6m 4s
    6. Using Photoshop and Live Trace together
      4m 40s
  17. 14m 42s
    1. Managing repeating artwork with symbols
      4m 38s
    2. Modifying and replacing symbol instances
      3m 8s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      6m 56s
  18. 16m 57s
    1. Cropping photographs
      1m 59s
    2. Clipping artwork with masks
      3m 22s
    3. Clipping the contents of a layer
      3m 31s
    4. Defining masks with soft edges
      8m 5s
  19. 26m 2s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      7m 48s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      8m 46s
    3. Moving flat art onto the perspective grid
      9m 28s
  20. 25m 8s
    1. Printing your Illustrator document
      3m 26s
    2. Saving your Illustrator document
      6m 39s
    3. Creating PDF files for clients and printers
      7m 30s
    4. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Microsoft Office
      1m 4s
    5. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Photoshop
      2m 31s
    6. Exporting artwork for use on the web
      3m 3s
    7. Exporting high-resolution raster files
      55s
  21. 2m 18s
    1. Additional Illustrator learning resources
      1m 36s
    2. Goodbye
      42s

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