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How to Select and Edit Paths in Illustrator CS3

#37 Scaling

The quick-and-dirty way to rescale any object is to select it, view the bounding box, and rescale (resize) using the Selection tool. To do that, first select the object. If the bounding box is not displayed, choose View > Show Bounding Box (Figure 37a).

Figure 37a

Figure 37a Displaying a bounding box.

With the bounding box displayed, click and drag on any of the corner or side handles in the bounding box to resize the selected shape. Hold down the Shift key as you resize to maintain the height-to-width aspect ratio of the original size as you rescale. Hold down the Command (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key as you rescale to maintain the original center point of the object. Or, hold down the Shift + Option (Mac) or Shift + Alt (Windows) keys to maintain the original aspect ratio and the original center point as you rescale (Figure 37b).

Figure 37b

Figure 37b Rescaling while maintaining the original center point.

The Scale tool has a couple advantages over sizing freehand with a bounding box or the Free Transform tool. The Scale tool allows you to resize to an exact percentage. For instance, you can resize an object to 200 percent, doubling the size of the original object exactly.

Resizing an object using the Scale tool interactively is hardly intuitive. Instead of clicking and dragging on an anchor or on a path, you click and drag anywhere on the artboard. It takes some practice (Figure 37c).

Figure 37c

Figure 37c Rescaling with the interactive Scale tool.

If you hold down the Shift key as you resize with the Scale tool, you can click and drag at about a 45-degree angle from a corner handle to maintain the height-to-width ratio of the original drawing. If you hold down the Shift key and drag up or down, you will only change the height. Hold down the Shift key and drag sideways to change only the width of the selected object.

By default, when you resize a selected object with the Scale tool, the center of the object is used as the point from which the object is enlarged or compressed. You can change that point by clicking within a selected object with the Scale tool. Then, when you resize the object, the newly selected point is the pivot and hub from which the object is resized, as shown in Figure 37d.

Figure 37d

Figure 37d Resizing from a selected pivot anchor.

The Scale dialog allows you to rescale an object digitally (defining exact percentages for horizontal and vertical resizing). It also allows you to define how stroke thickness and pattern sizing are affected by scaling.

If you maintain the original stroke thickness when you rescale, the relationship between the stroke thickness and the object changes. If you rescale strokes (and effects), the stroke (or effect) changes in accordance with the rescaled object (Figure 37e).

Figure 37e

Figure 37e Maintaining original stroke thickness while rescaling.

Similarly, when you rescale with the Scale dialog, you can maintain a pattern fill at its original size, or you can rescale it in sync with the resized object. In addition, you can elect to apply scaling only to a pattern fill, with interesting results: With this technique, you stretch or shrink only a fill pattern while the object containing the pattern remains unchanged (Figure 37f).

Figure 37f

Figure 37f Rescaling only the pattern fill in an object.

To resize with the Scale dialog:

  1. Select the object(s) to be rescaled.
  2. Double-click the Scale tool. The Scale dialog appears. Enter a value in the Scale area of the dialog to resize both height and width to a uniform percentage. Or, to rescale without maintaining the same height-to-width ratio, enter separate values in the Horizontal and Vertical boxes in the Non-Uniform section of the dialog.
  3. Click the Preview check box to see the object interactively resize on the artboard as you change values.
  4. Click the Scale Strokes & Effects check box if you want to proportionally resize strokes and effects.
  5. If you have an object with a pattern fill, you can click the Objects check box to resize objects. You'll almost always want to select this option; otherwise, the object won't resize.
  6. Click the Patterns check box to proportionally resize patterns within a shape. When your object is correctly resized, click OK.
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