Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Aligning objects with ease, part of Illustrator: Shortcuts.
- [Voiceover] The title of this movie is "Aligning Objects With Ease," and I say that because aligning objects in Illustrator is pretty easy but controlling how they align might be a little confusing if you're new to the application or if you just never paid attention to exactly what all the alignment options are. So first things first, let's bring up the Window menu and go down to Align, that's going to give us the Alignment panel, it's going to look like this, and then what we're going to do is we're going to click in the right-hand corner up here at the panel menu and choose Show Options, and that's going to open up all of the options for the Align panel including this little drop-down called Align To.
That's something you might not have seen before, but this makes it super easy to control exactly how your objects are aligned to one another. So for instance, right now it's set to Align to Art Board. So if I were to select everything onscreen, Cmd and Ctrl-A, and then click the alignment for align vertically along the center, that's going to snap everything to the center of the document. If I happen to distribute these objects horizontally across the page, it's going to separate them and basically take the rightmost object and flush it to the right side of the document, the leftmost object and flush it to the left side of the document, and then whatever's left over in the middle gets shifted equidistant between the two objects.
So that's all well and good, but occasionally, we don't want to do that, right? We want to align objects based on each other. And so there are a couple of ways you can do that. So for instance, let's say that I wanted all of these to be sort of up here in this region, and I wanted them to be aligned with one another. Well, what I can do is I can select all three, change the Align To method to Align To Selection, and then let's say I can horizontal and vertically center them.
When I do that, it makes this and it puts them relatively where I wanted them to go. But let's say that I wanted to move them to a specific location, because here I'm just sort of at the mercy of the command. But let's say, for instance, that I wanted everything to be down here in the bottom right corner for whatever reason. What I want to do is select this object down in the bottom right, both of these objects here, and then I want to simply click this object down here. You'll notice when I click that object, that a darker outline comes around it.
And you'll also notice that in the Align To section, a little key appears and when I hover over it, it says Align To Key Object, it says click a selected object to set it as the key object. So right now this bottom right piece of artwork is the key object, so if I were to center, everything moves down to the bottom right corner. It's just a way to get a little bit more control over what you're doing, so for instance, if I take the time to move this guy into the very center of the document, and I don't want to have to line all the rest of these up, I'll just hold down Shift to select both of these, click once to make that the key object, and then easily line everything up in the exact center of the document.
Now there's no real keyboard shortcut here, it's just a matter of knowing how to control the way these objects are aligned. So the next time you need to align objects with each other, try switching up the Align To mode, or even switching to the key object method. This makes it super easy to move your objects exactly where you want them to go, and not where Illustrator thinks they should go.