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Mastering Adobe Illustrator Align Methods


When I was learning Adobe Illustration, the align method confused me a lot, because it’s quite different from align system in Adobe Photoshop. Actually, Adobe Illustrator align method is more powerful than Adobe Photoshop. In this article I will show you how to use it for your advantage.

Align in control bar and palette window

Aligning objects in Adobe Illustrator can be controlled via Option bar or Align Palette, both have the same purpose and options. The difference is, Option Bar only available if you select two or more objects.

Adobe Illustrator Align system

3 method of alignment

There are 3 align methods to choose. You can toggle between these align method every time you want to align objects. For this tutorial I will only use Horizontal Align Center method. The other methods will work basically the same.

To illustrate each align method, I will show you the result of each align method. Below is the original objects location before alignment.

Object original postion

1. Align to selection

Align to Selection works by aligning based on both selected object. With this method, both objects will move. Because I’m using Horizontal Align Center, both objects moved into new positions exact in the middle their previous positions. I think this method impractical if you working on something that need precision positioning. I rarely use this method.

Result with align to selection

2. Align to Key Object

Most Adobe Illustrator’s beginner users doesn’t know what Key Object is. Key Object is what makes Align system in Adobe Illustrator is better than Photoshop’s. I think this is the best align method option in Adobe Illustrator. When you select two or more objects, click one of them to make it as Key Object. When you align it, the others object will follow the Key Object. In image below, the Key Object is the orange square. Very handy dandy.

Result with Align to key object

3. Align to Artboard

Artboard is basically the canvas or document area. With Align to Artboard method, we can align the object to Artboard. Like you can see in image below, using Horizontal Align Center method will automatically align all objects on the very center of Artboard. This method is not my favorite, but it’s very useful.

Result with align to artboard

So that are three align options in Adobe Illustrator. All are useful depend on how to you use it.