Northlite Designs

Resizing Tips for Illustrator 9 and 10



Vector vs raster?


Tips and Tutorials




Illustrator Gallery



Northlite Designs


Cards & Prints

Expression Gallery


About Me

Contact Me





Resizing Tips for Illustrator

Simple Resizing

This is the pencil from the Pencil Tutorial. When the pencil was completed it was pretty big for a web page so it needed to be resized. There are several ways to accomplish this.


The method used most often...

Since Illustrator is a vector program, resizing is as simple as selecting it with the selection arrow tool (the black one) and grabbing one of the corner handles on the bounding box.

Hold down the shift key to constrain the proportions and drag inward to the size you wish.


Scale it!

The scale tool in the tool bar gives a lot of control for resizing. The same options may be reached from the menu: Object > Transform > Scale.

Double click on the scale tool icon in the toolbar to open its options.

Check Uniform if you want the object to keep its proportions when it's scaled.

Check Non-Uniform if you want to scale differently horizontally and vertically. For instance, scaling a perfect circle 50% horizontal and 200% vertically will result in a tall skinny oval.

Click OK to commit the scale.

Click Cancel to cancel the scale and return to your document.

Click Copy if you want to keep the original and also have a new object at the new size. That will apply the scale and close the dialog box.

Tick the Preview box if you want to view the effect of the scale before committing it.

Scale Strokes and Effects checked will scale the entire object.


Scale Strokes and Effects scales the strokes, fills and effects (like shadows).

Objects scales the whole object.

Patterns scales just the pattern fill of the object. For instance, the pattern fill below was scaled 50% and objects was left unchecked so the size of the object stayed the same, and only the fill was resized by 50%.


Transform Palette

Keeping proportions when making a numerical transformation

Enter the new height or width value in the transform palette and hold down the command/control key as you hit enter or return. The other value will be entered for you.

Note: If you have odd numbers pop up when you use the Transform palette, for instance, you type in 200 px and you get 200.093 pixels or something odd like that, go to View > Snap to Point and remove the checkmark.


Draw a circle. Give it the fill and stroke of your choice and open the transform panel.

Type 144 in the Width box and 144 in the Height box.


I want to resize this by 50%. Half of 144 is 72 so I can type 72 in the Width and Height boxes then hit the enter key to set the transform.


Don't do the Math!

Dividing a number like 144 in your head is easy enough, but sometimes you have very odd sizes, especially when working in inches. And maybe you don't want to resize by an easy amount like 50% or 200% where you can easily divide or multiply by 2. Let Illustrator do the math for you.

Using the transform palette you can resize objects using simple mathematical formulas.

Note: Although we are talking about resizing in this tutorial, the math methods also work for other transformation operations, like Move.

I want the sphere to be 3 times wider than it is, but the height to stay the same.

So you can type * (asterisk, above the 8 on your keyboard) and 3 after the 72 in the Width box to signify 72 X 3.


Illustrator does the math and the new sphere is 216 pixels wide by 72 high.




This trick also works for dividing. Just type a / and the number you want to divide by after the number in the Width and/or Height box.

I want to make this sphere 1/4 its size, I can type /4 in the box.

Illustrator divides by 4 and the resulting sphere is 36 X 36.

This also works with decimals. If I start with a sphere 144 X 144 and I type /2.4 in both boxes, I get a sphere that is 60 X 60.


If you want to add pixels, (or inches, or points, or whatever your unit of measurement is) then type + and the number of pixels to add.

To subtract, type - and the number of pixels to subtract. You can also type different formulas into each box.


Transforming Several Objects at Once

To resize a group of objects at the same time, go to Object > Transform > Transform Each or type Control+Shift+Alt+D in Windows or Command+Shift+Option+D in Mac.

Set the options you want in the dialog box and click OK or copy if you want a copy transformed and to keep the original.

This is a very powerful feature: besides using it to scale a group of objects, you can also use it to reflect, rotate, or move or a combination of all of them at the same time!


In the example below the one on the right was scaled by 50%, rotated 45° and reflected along the Y axis with one mouse click.


I hope this has opened a few Illustrator doors for you you didn't know were there!



Download this tutorial as a PDF file

(requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view)

Adobe Acrobat Reader is available as a free download from

Get Acrobat Reader here




To the top of the page

Northlite Designs

Contact Me



Disclaimer: Site Design and all graphics on this site are the property of and copyrighted to Sara Froehlich and Northlite Designs. Usage is permitted by written permission. Mail me at if you have questions or requests. Thank you!


June 24, 2002

©2002 Sara Froehlich and Northlite Designs