ARRANGING AND GROUPING OBJECTS


When every area of artwork is a separate, stacked, and modifiable object, isolating just one or organizing multiple objects can become cumbersome. Fortunately, Illustrator includes several features to ease the task of working withand aroundobjects.

Grouping and Ungrouping

Often working with multiple objects is easier when they behave as a single unit. This is where grouping comes in.

Grouped objects are still individual paths, shapes, placed images, text, or even other groups. They are simply treated as a unified object (see Figure 18.1). Groups may be transformedmoved, scaled, rotated, skewed, and so onas a single unit; effects and appearance attributes may be applied to grouped objects without affecting the attributes of the component elements; and groups may be used as symbols.

Figure 18.1. When individual objects (left) are grouped (right), they remain individual objects, though they behave, and are only selectable, as a unit.


Group individual objects by selecting them and then by choosing Object, Group or by pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+G (Windows users) or -G (Mac users). Ungroup, or release the group to autonomous objects, with the Object, Ungroup command or by pressing the keyboard shortcut Shift+Ctrl+G (Windows users) or Shift--G (Mac users).

When grouping, all objects selected become part of a group sub-layer on the top object's layer regardless of their origin layers. In the Layers palette the group object is listed as a <Group> sub-layer, with each of its components below it (see Figure 18.2). As with any sub-layers, objects inside the group may be dragged out and restored to free-standing items by dragging their Layers palette entries outside the <Group> sub-layer. Similarly, new objects may be inserted into the group simply by dragging them into the sub-layer. Reorder sub-layers of the <Group> sub-layer to change the stacking order of objects inside the group.

Figure 18.2. Within the <Group> sub-layer are sub-layers for all the constituent objects in the group.


Stacking Order

Also called the z-order, referring to the z-axis, which runs front-to-back in the third dimension, the stacking order is the front-to-back arrangement of objectswhich objects overlap and which underlap. With path-based artwork, stacking order is important; when working with transparency, it is vital.

Each new object created is higher in the stacking order thanand on top ofother objects on the same layer or sub-layer. Reorder objects by dragging their Layers palette entries up or down, by menu commands, or by keyboard shortcuts.

By choosing commands from the Object, Arrange submenu, you can tell one or more objects, including grouped objects, to do the following:

  • Bring to Front: Move the selected object(s) to the top of the stacking order on the current layer or sub-layer.

  • Bring Forward: Move the selected object(s) one step closer to the top of the stacking order on the current layer or sub-layer.

  • Send Backward: Move the selected object(s) one step closer to the bottom of the stacking order on the current layer or sub-layer.

  • Send to Back: Move the selected object(s) to the bottom of the stacking order on the current layer or sub-layer.

    Arrange commands are also available from the context-sensitive menu accessible by right-clicking (multiple-button mice) or Control-clicking (Mac users with single-button mice) the object or artboard with objects selected.


  • Send to Current Layer: Move the selected object(s) from whatever layer or sub-layer it may be contained in to the layer currently selected in the Layers palette.

Arrange commands are relative to other objects; if the selected object is already the top object on the layer or sub-layer, Bring to Front and Bring Forward are grayed out and disabled.

Similar to the Arrange commands are the Select commands to select objects with different places in the stacking order without actually changing the stacking order. Available from either the Select menu or the right-click or Control-click context menu, the Select submenu includes the following commands:

  • First Object Above: Select the top object above the currently selected one.

  • Next Object Above: Select the next object above the currently selected one.

  • Next Object Below: Select the next object beneath the currently selected one.

  • Last Object Below: Select the bottom object beneath the currently selected one.

Alignment and Distribution

With Alignment commands, the near impossible task of perfectly lining up objects by hand is unnecessary. Alignment commands can align any surface or plane of objects as well as distribute them relative to each other and/or the artboard.

Though most of the alignment commands appear on the Control palette automatically when more than one object is selected, this is a subset of the commands available on the Align palette (see Figure 18.3). To access all the alignment and distribution commands, open the Align palette from the Window menu and select Show Options from the Align palette menu.

Figure 18.3. The Align palette after selecting Show Options from the Align palette menu.


The Align palette contains three rows of command buttons: Align Objects, Distribute Objects, and Distribute Spacing.

Here are descriptions of the Align Objects buttons (see Figure 18.4):

  • Horizontal Align Left: Align the left edges of all objects to match the left selected object.

  • Horizontal Align Center: Align the horizontal middles of all objects to the midpoint between the left and right edges of the selection.

  • Horizontal Align Right: Align the right edges of all objects to match the right selected object.

  • Vertical Align Top: Align the top edges of all objects to match that of the top selected object.

  • Vertical Align Center: Align the vertical middles of all objects to the midpoint between the top and bottom edges of the selection.

  • Vertical Align Bottom: Align the bottom edges of all objects to match that of the bottom selected object.

Figure 18.4. Three aligned objects, left to right: Horizontal Align Left, Horizontal Align Center, Horizontal Align Right; Vertical Align Top (top), Vertical Align Center (center), Vertical Align Bottom (bottom).


Here is what the Distribute Objects buttons do (see Figure 18.5):

  • Vertical Distribute Top: Equidistant vertical spacing of the top edges of all objects. If objects are of disparate sizes, this command may result in overlapping objects or uneven spacing between objects.

  • Vertical Distribute Center: Equidistant vertical spacing of the vertical centers of all objects. If objects are of disparate sizes, this command may result in overlapping objects or uneven spacing between objects.

  • Vertical Distribute Bottom: Equidistant vertical spacing of the bottom edges of all objects. If objects are of disparate sizes, this command may result in overlapping objects or uneven spacing between objects.

  • Horizontal Distribute Left: Equidistant horizontal spacing of the left edges of all objects. If objects are of disparate sizes, this command may result in overlapping objects or uneven spacing between objects.

  • Horizontal Distribute Center: Equidistant horizontal spacing of the horizontal centers of all objects. If objects are of disparate sizes, this command may result in overlapping objects or uneven spacing between objects.

  • Horizontal Distribute Right: Equidistant horizontal spacing of the right edges of all objects. If objects are of disparate sizes, this command may result in overlapping objects or uneven spacing between objects.

Figure 18.5. Three objects distributed, left to right: Vertical Distribute Top, Vertical Distribute Center, Vertical Distribute Bottom, Horizontal Distribute Left, Horizontal Distribute Center, Horizontal Distribute Right.


Here is what the Distribute Spacing buttons do (see Figure 18.6):

  • Vertical Distribute Spacing: Equidistant vertical spacing of all objects, regardless of their dimensions. Uses the distance specified in the Spacing measurement field, or, if the Spacing field is set to Auto, distributes all objects evenly between the top and bottom objects among the selected objects.

  • Horizontal Distribute Spacing: Equidistant horizontal spacing of all objects, regardless of their dimensions. Uses the distance specified in the Spacing measurement field, or, if the Spacing field is set to Auto, distributes all objects evenly between the left and right objects among the selected objects.

  • Spacing Measurement Field: Specifies the distance between objects created by the Vertical or Horizontal Distribute Spacing commands.

Figure 18.6. Three objects with distributed spacing. Vertical Distribute Spacing (left) and Horizontal Distribute Spacing (right).


To align or distribute objects or spacing relative to the artboardto center an object on the artboard, for exampleselect Align to Artboard from the Align palette menu and then use the appropriate palette button command.

Override the default behavior of the alignment and distribution commands by choosing a key object. For example, rather than aligning all objects to the left object when clicking Horizontal Align Left, all objects may be left-aligned to the center object or any other. After selecting all candidates for alignment or distribution, click once on the desired object to make it the key object. All alignment and distribution commands involving the key object will thereafter be relative to the position of the key object.

Restore nonrelative alignment and distribution by choosing Cancel Key Object from the Align palette menu.

Alignment and distribution are relative to the path, which, with certain appearance attributes, may not equal the correct object dimensions. To make all such actions relative to the full object and not the path, choose Use Preview Bounds from the Align palette menu.




Special Edition Using Adobe Creative Suite 2
Special Edition Using Adobe Creative Suite 2
ISBN: 0789733676
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 426
Authors: Michael Smick

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