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Using the Transform effect

From: Up and Running with Illustrator

Video: Using the Transform effect

In this exercise I am going to introduce you to my favorite dynamic affect of all and that's the Transform Effect, which allows you to rotate and scale and reflect in duplicate objects using numerical settings and then modify those settings anytime you like. I am working inside a document called Wheel elements.ai, it's found inside the Exercise Files folder. And I want you to see what's going on here with this pattern of circles, I'll go ahead and click on the larger circle to which these dotted strokes are applied.

Using the Transform effect

In this exercise I am going to introduce you to my favorite dynamic affect of all and that's the Transform Effect, which allows you to rotate and scale and reflect in duplicate objects using numerical settings and then modify those settings anytime you like. I am working inside a document called Wheel elements.ai, it's found inside the Exercise Files folder. And I want you to see what's going on here with this pattern of circles, I'll go ahead and click on the larger circle to which these dotted strokes are applied.

And then I will bring up the Appearance panel by clicking on the word Appearance over here on the right-hand side of the screen, and notice what we have here is two strokes. So if I turn off the blue stroke, you can see that we have a standard dotted outline and I created that from the Stroke panel by setting the Line Weight value to 20 points, notice that the dash is set to 0 points, the gap is set to 32 points and I have gone ahead and aligned the dashes so that all of these dots are equally spaced. Then I added this top stroke right here.

I will go ahead and turn it back on. It has a Line Weight of 15 points, the stroke is blue matching the background, I'll go ahead and click on the word Stroke, and you can see that it basically doubled the gap value, instead of 32 it's now 64, and as a result every other dot is filled with blue. So that's what's going on there. Now I'm ultimately going to be aligning this series as spikes to these dots, and you'll see how that works shortly. We are going to start off of with what I am calling the spokes of the wheel right here. When I click on any one of these objects, I select them all, and then I can see up here in the Control panel that I've selected a group.

I am now going to create a rotated sequence of these groups. I could do so using the Rotate tool, which is a very powerful tool inside of Illustrator as we saw a few exercises back. But it produces a static effect compared to the dynamic effect that we are going to apply now. So I am going to go up to the Effect menu, choose Distort & Transform, and then choose Transform, and I will go ahead and turn on the Preview check box so I can see what I am doing, and I am going to change the Rotate value to let's say 45 degrees, just to get my bearings and see what it looks like.

Sure enough, that's not what I want mostly because I'm rotating around the wrong origin point. If I take a look at this little reference point matrix right there, I can see I that I am rotating around the center point. I want to rotate around the bottom of the shape, like so, and that looks much better, but my Angle Value is off. So I'll go ahead and click inside the Angle Value, press Shift+Up Arrow, then press Shift+Up Arrow again, that takes the angle to 60 degrees, and sure enough it looks like we have a match. However, I want to copy the object as I rotated, and that's why I've got this little copies value right there.

If I take that copies values up to 1, notice that fills the original backend, so I have an original and one copy, and now I will take the value up to 2, and then 3, and then 4, and then 5, and that goes ahead and fills out the entire wheel because we have one original five copies, six in all, 6 times 60 gives you 360 degrees, which is as many degrees as it takes to get around an entire circle. All right, now I will click OK in order to accept that modification, and if you take a look at the Appearance panel here, you can see that I've got a group and I've assigned to the entire group, this Transform Effect, if I decide to change my mind later I will just click on the word Transform and I can modify my settings to taste.

I am going to cancel out however, and bring up the Layers panel instead, and then I'll go ahead and click on the triangle in front of wheel in order to expand that wheel layer. Notice there is my spokes group which is currently selected, and there is another object, it's a path outline, that's currently turned off. I will click in that empty column there to turn on the eyeball and to turn on the path inside the Document window. Now I want to start things off with the spikes by flipping them. So I am going to click on that path outline, and I will up to the Effect menu and choose that second command which allows me to repeat the last dynamic effect using different settings.

So I'll choose Transform... to bring up the Transform dialog box. Notice I am seeing the same values I applied last time. If I turn on the Preview check box I can see, that makes a fair mess of things. So I will go ahead and reduce the copies values to 0 and also reduce the Angle value to 0. What I am really looking to do is flip this object horizontally. So I will turn on the Reflect X check box. That does produce a horizontal flip, however it's flipping the shape across its center because the Reference Point is set to Bottom-Center.

I want to set it to the right-hand edge instead, so I will click that right-hand point in the Reference Point matrix and up getting the effect, I am looking for except I need copy. So I will take the copies value up to 1 and I get exactly the right effect. I will go ahead and click OK. All right, now I can see if I bring up the Appearance panel once again that I've got this Transform Effect that's assigned to the path. Here is the interesting thing. If I click on my original group right there, and notice I can't click on any of these others because they are not really there.

We haven't modified the path outline at all; it's still sitting in its same location, the other black spoke paths are being created on the fly. So they are essentially virtual where Illustrator is concerned. Anyway, I've gone ahead and assigned to this group, the Transform Effect and that's assigned across the entire group. All right, I am going to bring up the Layers panel. This just gets pretty interesting. Notice I've got this spokes item, it's a group, it's targeted, that little target circle right there. Looks like it's shaded, that means that there is a dynamic effect applied to this object, and I can twirl-open this group incidentally by clicking on the triangle in order to see its contents and that's the amazing thing about the Layers panel is that you can delve into any object inside of your illustration.

Not only that I could get spikes right here, I could take the spikes path and I could move it into the group, like so, and if I do then anything that's applied to that group, any dynamic effect will become applied to this object as well, which means as soon as I release I go ahead and replicate all of those spikes around that circle. Now I am going to go ahead and grab the spikes and move them to the back of the stack which I can do just by dragging them behind the black objects here inside the spokes group. And finally notice, I will go ahead and hide the Appearance panel.

Notice that my spikes are totally aligned. Now in all I have 18 spikes, I should tell you. The top spike is aligned to the center of that stroke's dot right there, but the next spike over is not aligned properly, neither is its neighbor, the third spike is. So basically every third spike is aligned properly, that means 6 out of 18 spikes are aligned properly and the other 12 are not. Well if this was a static effect I'd be at it forever, right? and have to adjust the points associated with each and every one of those 12 spikes.

However, because this is a dynamic effect, I will go ahead and grab my Direct Selection tool. I will click the anchor point at the tip of this incorrectly aligned spike, and I will just go ahead and move it and take a look at the illustration, keep an eye on all the spikes that are incorrectly aligned. As soon as I release they're all aligned properly. And I could even move them to a totally different position. Like let's say, I want to move them to the base of this dot, like so, then all of the other 11 spikes that make up this group of 12, they would align to that position as well.

All right, I am going to go ahead and zoom out to take in the entire illustration, I will press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool, click on one of these black spoke shapes to select it and then right-click inside of the Illustration, choose a range and choose Send To Back in order to move the spikes in the back of the dotted strokes. All right, so that ends my specific demonstration of the Transform Effect. Hopefully you have a greater appreciation of the amazing power afforded to you by the Appearance panel combined with dynamic effects here inside Illustrator.

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Up and Running with Illustrator

26 video lessons · 20858 viewers

Deke McClelland
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