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Working with the Transform Panel

The Transform panel, which you can access by choosing Window > Transform, is a production artist's best friend. The Transform panel provides numeric feedback on the exact specifications of a selection. Details include x,y coordinates, width and height measurements, and rotate and shear values.

You can use the panel to change the numeric settings of selected objects. Enter values using any measurement system—you can even specify math functions. For example, you might change the x coordinate of an object by adding +.125 at the end of the value and pressing Return (Windows: Enter) or the Tab key. You can even mix different measurement systems, such as subtracting points from millimeters. Use the asterisk (*) for multiplication functions and the slash (/) for division. If you hold down the Option (Windows: Alt) key while pressing Return (Windows: Enter) for a value, you'll create a copy.

At the far left side of the Transform panel is a nine-point proxy that corresponds to the eight points of an object's bounding box and its center (see Figure 3). The point you click is extremely important—not only for the Transform panel but for all transform functions. If you click the center point, the x,y coordinates you see in the Transform panel refer to the center point of your selection. Clicking a different point reveals the coordinates for that point of the selection. When specifying transformations such as width/height settings or rotation/skew values, the point you choose becomes the origin point—the point from which the transformation originates. Rotating an object from its lower-left corner yields very different results from that same rotation applied from the object's center point.

Figure 3

Figure 3 The nine-point proxy on the left side of the Transform panel enables you to set an origin point for a transformation. You can find the proxy (also called a reference point) in numerous transform dialog boxes and in the Control panel.

If you want to transform strokes and effects, choose the Scale Strokes & Effects option from the Transform panel menu, which stays on until you turn it off. From the same panel menu, you can choose to flip an object on its horizontal or vertical axis.

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