Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
When it comes to being precise inside of Illustrator nothing is more important than the Transform panel. I'm to go here to the Window menu. I'm going to choose Transform to open up the Transform panel. And let's take a few moments exploring the settings that exist within it. It's important to realize that the Transform panel at first glance may seem very simple. It simply maps out the X and Y values or the coordinates of where object sits on an Artboard and then likewise it also gives you the width and height values of your selection. But in reality, there is a lot of depth to the Transform panel. There are also many settings that may be buried in the flyout menu over here that we'll get to in a moment. So to get started here, let's start working with a regular plain rectangle.
I'm going to simply use my Rectangle tool to draw out a rectangle. It can be any size. And I have it filled right now with a yellow fill and have it set to a 10 point black stroke. Now I'm going to go ahead here, use my regular Selection tool to click on this object and you will notice that because in the View menu here I have my Bounding Box option turned on. Notice over here it says Hide Bounding Box. That means that currently my bounding box is being shown. And I can see that I have the bounding box so the handles that appears on the corners here. So let's first take a look over here at the Transform panel. You notice in the far left there is an icon here, which is referred to as the Reference Point.
The Reference Point shows me 9 handles and right now one of them is currently selected which is the centre one. These 9 handles refer to the 9 handles that appear on the Bounding Box of my current selection. If I were to go ahead now and select this object, this object has lots of anchor points on it, but you will notice that again I have the handles that appear around the parameter of my selection. These handles here represent the same that these icons do here, in this Reference Point icon. Now I'll go back and I'll select this rectangle, the reason why it's important to know this is because when I see the values in here, for example the X and Y coordinates, those X and Y coordinates obviously refer to one single aspect or point of my selection. So which part of my selection did I represent? Well, right now because the centre button shows in my Reference Point, that means that the X and Y values that I'm seeing right here, X being along this way, Y being along this way, so the values that I'm seeing right here are now showing me this exact center point of my object. Whereas if I were to go ahead now and click on the upper left-hand corner over here, the values that I'm seeing here which have just changed, now represents this point on my Bounding Box, not the center anymore.
Now this is important because when I'm using the Transform panel to work with objects precisely I need to control exactly one part of my object. So, let me give you an example. I'm going to go ahead and click on the centre point right here, if I wanted to manually align this object to the centre of my page, I know that right now my Artboard here is set to eight and a half inches wide, so the centre of that would be four and a quarter. So what I can do is I can now go to my X value and because the centre point is now highlighted which is the centre point of my object I can now change that X value, type in 4.25 and tap the Tab key to accept that value. And then my object moves exactly to the centre of the page.
Yes, of course there are aligning tools to be able to do that, what I'm doing is I'm trying to give you some examples of where, when you work in the Transform panel, you can position objects exactly where that you need them using this particular icon right here to make sure that you do it the way that you want. For example, if I wanted now to align this all the way to the upper left-hand corner, if I don't pay attention to the Reference Point here, I might say, okay, I want the X value to be 0 simply by typing in 0 and typing in the Tab key will not do what I want to, align the centre of my object to that particular X value.
So I'm going to go ahead here and click on the upper left-hand corner, I'm now going to go ahead and type in 0 and now my object snaps where I want it to be. Now I also want it to be able to snap to the top and normally when you are working with regular page layout applications. The (0,0) point is usually the upper left-hand corner, but with Illustrator its not. With Illustrator the 0 point for the X value appears over here in the upper left-hand corner, but the 0 point for the Y value appears down on the lower left-hand corner, right over here. Now why did this happen? I don't have a good answer; I know that Illustrator has always been this way. As we know Adobe Illustrator is one of the first graphic applications that were out there, it was heavily mired in the way that PostScript was created. So all this means that you have to pay a little bit more attention to the values that you are working with. So, for example, I know that right now my page is 11 inches tall. So at this point over here it would actually be 11. I can specify for my Y value 11, hit the Tab key to accept in my object when I'll snap to that point that's right there. And if you are working with web designing, working with pixels, it would be the exact same thing. You just have to always know that the 0 point for the Y axis starts here on the bottom and then moves upwards.
So now take a look at the Width and the Height values. So again, the Reference Points still comes in the play here, when I go ahead and I choose to adjust a value, the value basically gets adjusted from that anchor point. Let me explain, right now, the upper left- hand corner is currently chosen. If I go ahead now and I want this to expand the entire page, which would be eight and half inches, I could type in that value, 8.5, hit the Tab key to accept it. And notice that this point will basically stay and the shape will simply grow in this direction. I'll hit Tab key and we'll see that happen. Now I'm going to press Undo for a second. If I have the centre point selected right here and I type in that same value, 8.5 and hit the Tab key to accept it.
Notice that the object was enlarged but from the center point, not from the upper left-hand corner, which was maybe what I was expecting. We press Undo for a moment here; again the same concept applies to rotating and skewing my object. Wherever I have my Reference Point chosen, that will be the origin point for where the rotation or the skew or in this case here Illustrator refers it as the shear, basically takes place from. So there's one other icon in the Transform panel that's important to know and that's this little lock icon right here. Now if I wanted it to change the Width of my object right now, notice that when I go ahead and I enter that value, let's say eight and a half inches, the Height basically stays the same. But if I want the Height to change proportionately to the amount that I'm actually changing the Width, I would click on the lock icon and that would basically constrain the Width and Height settings together.
So let me go ahead here and click on the upper left-hand corner Reference Point. Let me go ahead and click on this lock icon right now. So now if I choose eight and a half inches here, notice that the Height will also adjust likewise. So now I basically have locked the Height and Width together which also means that if I change the Height setting, the Width will also change in proportion as well. So you would use little lock icon here to make those changes. I'm going to turn that off for now. But I want to point out one extremely important thing with the Transform panel. You will notice when I went ahead and I aligned my object to the upper left-hand corner over here, what actually got aligned to the page was the path itself and not the stroke. So I'm actually going to zoom in a little bit close to here on this corner here and we'll take a look at what's happening here. Let me move my object down just a little bit, you can see that the path itself was aligned perfectly to the edge of the page. However, the stroke value, which we know is always applied to the centre line of a path, and that's the default setting inside of Illustrator. So I have here a 10 point stroke, I now have five points of that stroke extending to the left and five points of that stroke to the right or in this case here the better term would be the outside and inside of the path. So I have a 10 point stroke total, but five points on this side and five points on that side.
Now here's something that's very interesting. The value that I'm seeing right here in the Width of my object, the Illustrator again is very precise, it's a computer application. It's giving me the exact value of the path that's used to define this object, but not the appearance of the path. That's the default setting inside of Illustrator. But there is a setting that we could use to change that. So right now my artwork is eight and a half inches wide, but then again that's the path that I see here not including the actual amount that the stroke is adding to the outside of this path. Now if I were a person who were designing a piece of artwork and I needed to create something that was a precise size, this size would now be a little bit bigger and it wouldn't fit with the size that I might be asked to provide. This is again an important setting here. I'm to go into my Preferences inside of Illustrator. If you are on a Mac, you would go over to the Illustrator menu and choose Preferences and I'm going to choose just the general setting here. If you are on a Windows machine, you can simply go to the Edit menu and then from the bottom you would choose Preferences as well. The keyboard shortcuts to open up Preferences are Command+K or Ctrl+K.
There is an option here called Use Preview Bounds. That's a very important setting. By default when you open up Illustrator that setting is turned off. What this setting does is it tells Illustrator to honor the appearance of a path and not the actual path itself. So again right now the Width of the path that I'm working with this is exactly eight and a half inches. If I turn on the Use Preview Bounds setting inside the Preferences panel and I click OK. Watch what happens to the Width down in the Transform panel. It now shows us 8.639 and that's because now the Width of the path is also compensating or giving me the value for the stroke itself.
In fact you can even see where the Bounding Box now lies, Illustrator before had the Bounding Box on this particular anchor point. But now the Bounding Box moved out to over here and that's because Illustrator is now taking into account the width of the stroke or more precisely the appearance of the path, not just the path itself. So now if I go ahead and I change the Width to be exactly 8.5 and I hit the Tab key and I also adjust the X coordinate over here to be assigned to 0. Now you can see that this particular anchor point now does measure up exactly with the edge of the page. So I want to actually show you, I'm going to zoom out of here, leave that object for a moment, how important this is when you are dealing with other types of artwork inside of Illustrator.
I have this badge that I have created and this badge now has a Drop Shadow on it. Now because I went ahead and I actually turned on the Use Preview Bounds setting, when I go ahead here and I ask Illustrator to show me the width particular object, notice that the Bounding Box doesn't kind of match up exactly to the anchor points of the path here. The Bounding Box is actually extended out just a little bit here and that's because this object has a Drop Shadow applied to it, take a look at my Appearance panel here. I have a Drop Shadow. So the Drop Shadow always adds a couple of extra pixels to my object that I don't see, like a clipped edge from my Drop Shadow so that this way I know that the Drop Shadow kind of blends smoothly to that background.
So notice that the Width here is 4. 093, if I were to go ahead back to the Preferences panel and I were to turn off Use Preview Bounds, I would see that object now is 3.792 because now the Drop Shadow was not included in the value that's being shown in the Transform panel. So when I'm working inside of Illustrator, I always want to make sure that when I'm working with the Transform panel that I can choose to see the exact value of the path or the value of the appearance of the path by turning that setting, Use Preview Bounds, on and off. If I go to the flyout menu here, I can see there is an option here called Scale strokes & Effects. And all this simply means that when I'm working and I'm scaling an object, does the stroke width itself also scale along with the object. And likewise if I have different effects, for example, right now this object has a Drop Shadow applied and that Drop Shadow has a certain blur setting and a certain offset setting. Now when I go ahead and I scale this object to be larger or smaller, do I want that effect to also scale along with the object? Usually I do, so I sometimes want to make sure that the Scale strokes & Effects is turned on. Again, when you first launch Illustrator for the first time, by default this setting is turned off.
Now likewise there is also the ability of using the Transform panel to transform both any patterns and the object inside of a regular shape that you have. And if you do have a shape that does have a fill of a pattern inside of it, you could choose this Transform Pattern Only option. And doing so, basically if I now have an object that has a pattern inside of it, any adjustment that I make here to the Width and the Height, for example, I could change the size of just the pattern or the repeat inside the shape without changing the shape. So if I have a shirt outline with a print of some kind of pattern on the inside of the shirt. If I want to see, let's say, smaller prints inside of it, I could just simply scale only the pattern and not the object itself, again using this particular setting here.
So these are the some of the settings that you have in the Transform panel, it's incredibly useful to work with. You will also notice that many of the elements in the Transform panel appear in the control panel. So notice that right over here on the top of your X, Y and then I have Width and Height values, I do had the Reference Point indicator, I also have the lock icon. And by clicking on any of these underlined blue areas, I can simply go ahead and access the entire Transform panel even its flyout menu from this side with all of its settings. So you don't necessarily need to have the Transform panel open at all times, although that's up to you, depending on how you want to manage your screen space.
So one final thing that I'll point out. If you go to Preferences for a moment, again, I'll press Command+K or Ctrl+K on the Windows machine; I'll simply go here and see that the Scale strokes & Effects option does appear here in Preferences as well along with Use Preview Bounds. Whatever I choose here simply is reflected in the Transform panel as well. So notice if I choose Scale strokes & Effects and I turn that option on, I click OK. I'll see that now that option is turned on here in the Transform panel as well. So you can turn it on from either of these locations, from here or the Preferences setting as well.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
119 Video lessons · 50936 Viewers
117 Video lessons · 38663 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 81567 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 11583 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.