Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video How to use "Align to Key Object" in Illustrator, part of Creative Quick Tips.
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Hi there, Justin Seeley here once again with another creative quick tip for you. This week I'm going to be talking about how to align objects in Adobe Illustrator using something called a key object. Really, what this is, is a way for you to quickly and easily align things to certain objects in Illustrator. So just disregard the whole key object thing, it might be a little confusing. Basically, what we're trying to do here, let's say that I have these two shapes and I want to align these two shapes together, but I want to make sure that this shape, the circle down here in the bottom left, stays in its same position.
Well, it's really hard to do that, because when I do this, if I just hit align horizontal center, align vertical center you can see they do that but its based upon the fact that they're aligned to the art board. Now, I can undo that and then I can change the alignment to selection. And when I do that, they still, don't quite stay put. So let's undo that, one more time. And this time, we're going to come up here and chose, align to key object. You'll notice that there's a bolder guideline around this shape right here, indicating it's the key object.
But this is the object I want to align to. So I'll just click on that. Making it the key object and now align to the center. Same thing up here at the top. Let's try this one. We'll select these two, align to key object, make this big square the key object and center, center, there we go. Now finally, I'm going to show you how to make this happen really quickly. I'm going to select something like this. And we'll select the star inside, holding down the shift key. And we'll select this circle, way up here at the top.
And then what we're going to do is just simply click on the key object. So for instance, this blue circle, click, see the bold line appear? Nothing different about it. Didn't have to change anything in the alignment options. Now just center and center. Just like that. Stacking order is a different story. Of course, the yellow circle moved behind the blue circle, that's okay. I can just select the blue circle, and I can move it back using Command and the left bracket key, Control and the left bracket key on my keyboard until it gets behind everything, but there you can see everything is perfectly lined up.
If I want to move these, to the middle of the square, that's really easily done as well. Just select everything, like that. Select the square. Click the square one extra time, and then align center. And center, everything's good to go. And then I can just move the square, to the back. I can also move the polygon back as well, just the size a little bit, so it looks a little bit like that. So there you go. The next time you have to align objects together, just make sure to use that key object so that one of your objects stays stationary and you don't have to keep chasing your shapes all over the artboard.