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Making Transformations in Adobe Illustrator CS4

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The best part of drawing on a computer is that you rarely have to start over. Whether you've changed your mind about an angle or you drew a bunch of repeated objects too small (oops), Illustrator makes modifying your artwork very easy. Mordy Golding discusses how to use Illustrator's transform capabilities to manipulate any number of objects onscreen.

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Transforming with the Bounding Box

When you click an object with the Selection tool, the bounding box appears around the object, indicating that the object is selected (see Figure 2). The bounding box allows you to perform several common transform functions. You can drag the selected object to move it. You can scale or resize the selection by using any of the eight handles that appear on the perimeter of the bounding box. Holding down the Shift key while resizing constrains proportion. By positioning the mouse pointer just outside the edge of a handle, you can rotate the selection. Holding down the Shift key while rotating constrains the rotation angle to increments of 45 degrees.

Figure 2

Figure 2 The bounding box makes simple transforms, such as scaling and rotating, quick and painless.

Illustrator displays the bounding box by default. To turn off the display of the bounding box, choose View > Hide Bounding Box or press Command-Shift-B (Windows: Ctrl-Shift-B).

Although the bounding box is certainly useful, sometimes it can get in the way. For example, Illustrator has a Snap to Point setting, with which you can drag an object by an anchor point and align it to an anchor point in a different object. As the mouse pointer approaches an anchor point, the object you're dragging snaps to that anchor point. When the bounding box is turned on, you can't always grab an object by the anchor point, because doing so allows you to scale the object instead. To solve the problem, either turn off display of the bounding box, or use the Direct Selection tool (which many Illustrator users prefer anyway) rather than the Selection tool. An easy way to access the Direct Selection tool is to hold down the Command (Windows: Ctrl) key when the regular Selection tool is active. This action makes the bounding box disappear temporarily (until you release the key).

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