Transforming Objects

Transforming Objects

One of the most common tasks when creating an illustration is select and transform objects. VectorStyler provides a number of tools that can be used to transform objects with various inputs. Transform operations include moving, scaling, rotating and skewing objects, shapes or content. The target of the transformation depends on the tool used to make the selection.

  • The Pointer tool is used to select and transform objects, including groups. To transform objects inside a group, double click on the group to enter isolated mode and select the object.
  • The Shape Selector tool is used to select and transform members of composite shapes. Composite shapes are shapes built from multiple shapes using a shape combining operation.
  • The Deep Selector tool is used to select and transform objects inside groups as well. A group can only be selected, if it has a shape and a fill or outline style and an uncovered area.
  • The Content tool is used to select and transform linked graphics or image content inside objects, independently of the object.

Interactive Transform

(A) transform marker around an object, (B) scaled down object, (C) rotated object.

When one or more objects are selected using one of the tools described above, a bounding box marker is shown around the objects. This marker can be used to scale, rotate and skew the selected objects. The transform marker indicates the current rotation and skewing of the selected objects.

When hovering over the nodes and around the margin of the transform marker, the cursor will indicate the type of transformation initiated from that location.

To move the selected objects:

  • Hover over a filled region or the outline of the object, then press and drag the mouse.
  • While moving hold the Shift key to constrain the movement to horizontal or vertical directions.
  • Hold the Option key to move a copy of the object.
  • The active snapping options will help in precisely positioning the object (see the Grids & Guides chapter for more detail on snapping),
  • Hold the Command key to temporarily disable all snapping options while moving the object.

To scale the selected objects:

  • Hover over one of the eight nodes located at the corners and at the center of the sides of the transform marker. Press and drag the mouse.
  • The objects are resized in the selected direction.
  • For proportional scaling (from the corners), hold the Shift key.
  • To scale a copy of the selected objects, hold the Option key.
  • To constrain the scaling amount to increments of a fixed value (in preferences), hold the Command key.
  • To keep the center fixed while scaling, hold the Control key.
  • In case of multiple selected objects, hold the Space key to block scaling and allow only object movements.

Rotating and skewing objects is done centered to a user selected center point. The center point is associated with the object and it will be stored with the document. The center point is indicated as a small circular node, initially at the center of the object. To move the center point of the selected objects:

  • Hover over the center node indicator. The cursor should change to indicate center node selection. Press and drag the mouse.
  • Move the center node to a new location.
  • Active snapping options will help in precisely positioning the center point. The center point will also snap to the transform marker center.
  • Hold the Shift key to constrain the movement to horizontal or vertical directions.
  • Hold the Command key to temporarily disable all snapping options while moving the center point.

To rotate the selected objects:

  • Hover over the margin around a corner of the transform marker. The cursor should indicate rotation. Press and drag the mouse.
  • The selected objects are rotated around the center point.
  • The rotation angle will snap to the angle of the guidelines on the current canvas and artboard.
  • Hold the Command key to temporarily disable angle snapping.
  • Hold the Control key to snap the angle to increments of a user specified value (5 degree by default, set in preferences).
  • Hold the Option key to rotate the copy of the selected objects.

To skew the selected objects:

  • Hover over the margin around the center of the transform marker sides. The cursors should indicate skewing. Press and drag the mouse.
  • The selected objects are skewed around the center point.
  • The skewing angle will snap to the angle of the guidelines on the current canvas and artboard.
  • Hold the Command key to temporarily disable angle snapping.
  • Hold the Control key to snap the angle to increments of a user specified value (5 degree by default, set in preferences).
  • Hold the Option key to skew the copy of the selected objects.

Duplicating

The selected objects can be duplicated to create exact copies of the objects. In VectorStyler, there are three different duplication modes, determining the type of the newly created objects.

  • Objects can be copied, resulting in a new object that is independent of the original.
  • Objects can be cloned, where attributes of the new object are linked to the original. Modifying the original object will modify the attributes of the clones of that object as well. Modifying attributes of a clone will break the link to the original for that attributes. For more on object cloning see the Cloning Objects section.
  • Objects can be referenced, creating a symbolic reference to the original object. In this case no copy or clone is created, instead the original object will behave as a symbol, and the new object will be an instance of that symbol. Changes on the original (symbol) object are always mirrored on all references to that object. Symbol instances cannot be styled, but it is possible to override style definitions and to apply additional image and shape effects.

The following object duplication commands are available:

  • Holding the Option key while moving, scaling, skewing or rotating objects will create a copy of the selected objects.
  • Duplicate - Create a copy of the selected objects and move it by the same amount as the previous object movement.
  • Clone - Create a clone of the selected objects.
  • Reference - Create a symbolic references to the selected objects.
  • The various numeric transform commands have an option to select the duplication mode before applying the transformation.
  • Copy and paste into the same document will duplicate the objects, avoiding going through the clipboard.
  • Drag&drop from the layers panel can be used to duplicate, clone or reference objects.

Transform by Numbers

The Objects - Transform menu contains various commands that can be used to transform objects by specific numeric amounts. Transforming by specific amounts is useful when the changes must be precise, or when repeating the changes multiple times on copies of the objects.

In these transforming commands, the objects can be copied repeatedly and transformations applied on the repeated copies of these objects.

Moving Objects

Moving objects by specific amounts.

To move the selected objects using numeric amounts, select the Move command from the Object - Transform menu. The Move view is shown, where the movement amounts can be set. The following fields control how the selected objects are moved:

  • Apply To - Select the copying mode of the moved objects. This can be Original, when no copies are made, or Copy, Clone or Reference, when the object is copied using the selected mode and the copies are moved.
  • Horizontal and Vertical - Edit the amount of horizontal and vertical movements.
  • Distance and Angle - Edit the amount of movement along an angle to a specific distance.
  • Repeat - Set the number of copies made from the selected objects.
  • Randomize - Enable or disable randomization of the movement amounts.
  • Seed - Edit the randomization seed used when making random movements.
  • Transform Each - Enable the transformation of individual objects, when multiple objects are selected.
  • Preview - Enable the previewing of the current movement options on the selected objects.

Scaling Objects

Scaling objects by specific amounts.

To resize the selected objects using numeric amounts, select the Scale command from the Object - Transform menu. The Scale view is shown, where the scaling options can be set. The following fields control how the selected objects are scaled:

  • Apply To - Select the copying mode of the scaled objects. This can be Original, when no copies are made, or Copy, Clone or Reference, when the object is copied using the selected mode and the copies are scaled.
  • Scaling - Edit the relative scaling amount applied on the selected objects. For non-proportional scaling of the objects, click the lock icon and edit the Horizontal and Vertical scaling factors separately.
  • Repeat - Set the number of copies made from the selected objects when scaling.
  • Transform Shapes - Enable or disable the scaling of object shapes.
  • Transform Content - Enable or disable the scaling of inline content.
  • Transform Images - Enable or disable the scaling of images.
  • Transform Each - Enable or disable the separate transformation of individual objects when multiple objects are selected.
  • Randomize - Enable randomization of the scaling amounts.
  • Seed - Edit the randomization seed used when making random scaling.
  • Preview - Enable the previewing of the current scaling options on the selected objects.

Skewing Objects

Skewing objects by specific amounts.

To skew the selected objects using numeric amounts, select the Skew command from the Object - Transform menu. The Skew view is shown, where the skewing options can be set. The following fields control how the selected objects are skewed:

  • Apply To - Select the copying mode of the skewed objects. This can be Original, when no copies are made, or Copy, Clone or Reference, when the object is copied using the selected mode and the copies are skewed.
  • Horizontal and Vertical - Edit the skewing angles used in horizontal and vertical direction.
  • Repeat - Set the number of copies made from the selected objects when skewing.
  • Transform Shapes - Enable or disable the skewing of object shapes.
  • Transform Content - Enable or disable the skewing of inline content.
  • Transform Images - Enable or disable the skewing of images.
  • Transform Each - Enable or disable the separate transformation of individual objects when multiple objects are selected.
  • Randomize - Enable or disable randomization of the skewing amounts.
  • Seed field edits the randomization seed used when making random skewing.
  • Preview - Enable or disable the previewing of the current skewing options on the selected objects.

Rotating Objects

Rotating objects by specific amounts.

To rotate the selected objects using numerically set angle, select the Rotate command from the Object - Transform menu. The Rotate view is shown, where the rotating options can be set. The following fields control how the selected objects are rotated:

  • Apply To field is used to select the copying mode of the rotated objects. This can be Original, when no copies are made, or Copy, Clone or Reference, when the object is copied using the selected mode and the copies are rotated.
  • Angle field edits the rotating angle of the objects.
  • Repeat field sets the number of copies made from the selected objects when rotating.
  • Transform Shapes - Enable or disable the rotating of object shapes.
  • Transform Content - Enable or disable the rotating of inline content.
  • Transform Images - Enable or disable the rotating of images.
  • Transform Each - Enable or disable the separate transformation of individual objects when multiple objects are selected.
  • Randomize - Enable or disable randomization of the rotating amounts.
  • Seed - Edit the randomization seed used when making random rotating.
  • Preview - Enable or disable the previewing of the current rotating options on the selected objects.

Reflecting Objects

Reflecting objects along an axis.

To reflect the selected objects along an axis, select the Reflect command from the Object - Transform menu. The Reflect view is shown, where the reflection axis angle and other options can be set. The following fields control how the selected objects are reflected:

  • Horizontal - Reflect the objects along an axis horizontally.
  • Vertical - Reflect the objects along an axis vertically.
  • Angle - Use a specific angle as the axis of the reflection.
  • The other options of the Reflect view are similar to the rotate and skew view options.

Transforming Objects

The Transform command of the Object - Transform menu is used to apply all transformation options (moving, scaling, skewing and rotating) in a single step. This is especially useful, when creating multiple copies of the selected objects and applying composite transformations repeatedly. The Transform command combines all previous transformations into a single view.

Transforming objects using all options.

  • Apply To - Set the duplication mode of the objects, similarly as in other views.
  • Move - Contains the movement amounts.
  • Scale - Contains the scaling amounts.
  • Skew - Contains the horizontal and vertical skewing amounts.
  • Rotate - Contains the rotation angle.
  • Additional options shown in the Transform view have the same use as documented in the rotating and skewing commands.

Reseting the Object Box

When applying skewing and rotations to an object, the bounding box of the object (showing the transform handles) will be shown considering the current skewing and rotation amounts. This results in a transformed bounding box, and the ability to resize the object before the rotation and skewing amounts are applied.

In some cases (after several transformations), it is preferred to apply new transforms (scaling, skewing or rotating) to the object without considering existing transforms. This can be done using the Reset Transform command of the Object - Transform menu. The Reset Transform command will reset the bounding box into a non-transformed frame, so that new transformations can be added to the object.

The Transform Panel

The Transform panel.

To quickly access transformation options with numerical values, use the Transform panel from the Panels menu. The transform panel will show the current position and size of the selected objects, as well as current scaling, skewing and rotation amounts. To transform the selected objects, type a new value in any of these fields and press Enter.

The transform panel provides the following options (separated into sections):

  • The top section contains the selection frame position and size. The position is shown relative to the selected reference point (upper-left widget). To set the frame position or size, edit these fields. Changes to the size can be restricted to proportional by the lock button next to the width and height fields.
  • The second section (top down) shows the current scaling amounts applied to the object. The object scaling values are stored with the object and can be adjusted later. To start with new scaling values, use the Reset Transform command.
  • The third section shows the current horizontal and vertical skewing amounts. The skewing transform is stored with the object and can be adjusted at any time. To start with new skewing values, use the Reset Transform command.
  • The fourth section shows the rotation angle of the selected objects. The rotation is stored with the object and can be adjusted at any time. To start with new rotation angle, use the Reset Transform command.
  • Align to Pixels check box enables the alignment of object shape positions to pixels, at the current document resolution. Aligning shapes to pixels is useful when designing icons for low resolution display.

The Collider Tool

Aligning to shapes with the collider tool.

The Collider tool can be used to move and rotate objects to precisely align an object location with locations on other shapes. The curvature at a shape location defines a precise angle and position. The collider tool can be used to move an object to the location on the shape and rotate it to the angle defined by the shape curvature.

To align objects with the collider tool:

  • Select the Collider tool from the application toolbox.
  • Click on an object to select it.
  • To align objects, click on the outline of the object at a location that should be aligned with other shapes.
  • Drag the object from an outline location, close to other objects with outlines.
  • When the moved object location is sufficiently close to an other shape, the object will rotate and snap to the curvature of that other shape.

The Gap Tool

The Gap tool can be used to adjust the gap between objects by resizing the objects. The gap tool is used, when setting up layouts of text and image frames on an artboard. The gap tool will automatically detect the gap between two adjacent objects or between an object and the artboard margin. The gap tool uses the current view rotation, the artboard rotation and the normal (zero) viewing angle to detect gaps.

Use the following steps to adjust objects with the gap tool:

  • Select the Gap tool from the application toolbox.
  • Hover over empty areas between objects.
  • The detected gap between objects or between an object and the artboard margin is shown.
  • Press the mouse and drag to adjust the position of the gap.
  • The objects around the gap are resized according to the gap movements.

Transform Tools

The Pointer tool can be used to apply all the common transformations to objects (moving, scaling, skewing and rotating). In addition to the default transform tool, VectorStyler provides a number of specialized tools to apply reflection, scaling, skewing or rotations to objects.

These tools can also be used to transform a selected number of nodes in an edited path. While using these tools, objects cannot be moved, and only one transformation type can be applied.

The Reflect Tool

The Reflect tool can be used to transform objects to their reflections along an axis.

  • Select the Reflect tool from the application toolbox.
  • Click on the object to be modified and start dragging.
  • The axis of the reflection is indicated as a line between the starting and current mouse location.
  • The object is previewed with the current reflection transformation.

The Scale Tool

The Scale tool can be used to scale objects around the object center point.

  • Select the Scale tool from the application toolbox.
  • The center point of the object, initially located at the center of the object, can be adjusted by dragging it with the mouse.
  • Drag one of the eight scaling nodes (on the bounding box corners and sides) to scale the object in the selected direction.

The Skew Tool

The Skew tool can be used to skew objects around the object center point.

  • Select the Skew tool from the application toolbox.
  • The center point of the object, initially located at the center of the object, can be adjusted by dragging it with the mouse.
  • Drag one of the four skew nodes (on the bounding box sides) to skew the object in the selected direction.
  • The skewing transform will occur around the center point.

The Rotate Tool

The Rotate tool can be used to rotate objects around the object center point.

  • Select the Rotate tool from the application toolbox.
  • The center point of the object, initially located at the center of the object, can be adjusted by dragging it with the mouse.
  • The four corners of the object bounding box will show the nodes used to rotate the object.
  • Drag one of the four rotate nodes, to rotate the object around the center point.