Manipulate Selected Objects in Adobe CS5 Illustrator - dummies

Manipulate Selected Objects in Adobe CS5 Illustrator

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Adobe CS5) Illustrator has several options for manipulating selected objects. These options include constraining, cloning, transformation and precise movement control as well as special use of the selection menu.

  • Move selected objects: When an object is selected, you can drag it to any location on the page, but what if you only want to nudge it a bit?

    To nudge an item one pixel at a time, select it with the Selection tool and press the left-, right-, up-, or down-arrow key to reposition the object. Hold down the Shift key as you press an arrow key to move an object by ten pixels at a time.

  • Constrain movement: Want to move an object over to the other side of the page without changing its alignment? Constrain something by selecting an object with the Selection tool and dragging the item and then holding down the Shift key before you release the mouse button. By pressing the Shift key mid-drag, you constrain the movement to 45-, 90-, or 180-degree angles!

  • Clone selected objects: Use the Selection tool to easily clone (duplicate) an item and move it to a new location. To clone an item, simply select it with the Selection tool and then hold down the Alt key (Windows) or Option key (Mac).

    Look for the cursor to change to two arrows and then drag the item to another location on the page. Notice that the original object is left intact and that a copy of the object has been created and moved.

  • Constrain the clone: By Alt+dragging (Windows) or Option+dragging (Mac) an item and then pressing Shift, you can clone the item and keep it aligned with the original.

    Don’t hold down the Shift key until you’re in the process of dragging the item; otherwise, pressing Shift deselects the original object.


    After you clone an object to a new location, try this neat trick to create multiple objects the same distance apart from each other by using the Transform Again command: Choose Object→Transform→Transform Again or press Ctrl+D (Windows) or Command+D (Mac) to have another object cloned the exact distance as the first cloned object.


  • Use the Select menu: By using the Select menu, you can gain additional selection controls, such as choosing Select→Inverse, which allows you to select one object and then turn your selection inside out. Also, choosing the Select→Same option lets you select one object and then select additional objects on the page based on similarities in color, fill, stroke, and other special attributes.

    Take advantage of the Select Similar button on the Control panel to easily access that feature. You can hold down the arrow to the right of the Select Similar button to choose which similarities should be considered to make the selection.