Transforming Objects and Layers

Transforms are operations that you perform on objects—such as moving, resizing, or rotating. Object transforms can be performed either directly using onscreen controls (transform handles), or by changing the object’s parameters in the Properties tab of the Inspector. In general, the controls in the Canvas give you a more hands-on method of working, while the individual parameter controls in the Properties tab are better suited for subtle adjustments requiring greater numerical precision. For more information about each transform’s corresponding parameter and its numerical values, see Adjusting Object Properties in the Inspector.

Important: Applying a mask or certain filters to a group can cause what is called rasterization. Rasterization converts a group into a bitmap image, which affects blend modes and interactions with other objects in a project. For more information on rasterization, see About Rasterization.

Selecting Objects to Transform

Before you can transform objects and groups, you must first select what you want to transform in the Canvas, Layers tab, or Timeline. Selecting a group or object in one place also selects it in the others.

When an object is selected in the Canvas, it is surrounded by a bounding box with transform handles corresponding to the currently selected transform mode. These handles allow you to transform each selected object.

To select a single object in the Canvas
  • Click any object in the Canvas.

To select multiple objects in the Canvas, or to add objects to a selection
Do one of the following:
  • Drag a selection box over all the objects you want to select.

  • Holding down the Shift key, click all the objects you want to select.

  • To add objects to a selection, holding down the Shift key, drag a selection box over objects you want to add to the selection.

To deselect one of multiple selected objects in the Canvas
Do one of the following:
  • Shift-click an object you want to deselect.

    All other selected objects remain selected.

  • Holding down the Shift or Command key, drag a selection box over one or more objects you want to deselect.

To select all objects in the Canvas
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Edit > Select All.

  • Press Command-A.

To deselect all objects in the Canvas
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Edit > Deselect All.

  • Press Command-Shift-A.

From time to time, an object may become hidden behind another object. The best way to select a hidden object is to select it in the Layers tab or Timeline. When you do so, the object’s bounding box and transform controls appear in the Canvas, even if the object is completely obscured.

Figure. Canvas window showing a selected object hidden behind another object.

Note: When an inactive object is selected, you also see only the bounding box for that object.

For more information on how to select objects and groups in the Layers tab, see Selecting Layers and Groups in the Layers Tab.

Rules for Transforming Selected Objects and Groups

The way you transform selected objects depends on how many objects are selected.

Transforming a Single Object

If you select a single object, the changes you make only affect that one object. All unselected objects remain unaffected. For example, if you select a single object, transform handles appear around that one object.

Figure. Canvas window showing a single object being scaled.

Transforming Multiple Objects

If you select multiple objects in the Canvas, changes made to one object are simultaneously made to all others. Each transform occurs around each object’s own anchor point, so the effect is the same as if you made the same transform to each object’s handles, one object after another.

Figure. Canvas window showing multiple objects being scaled together.

Transforming a Group

If you select an entire group, all objects and groups that are nested within it are treated as a single object. One set of transform handles appears on a bounding box that encompasses every object within that group. All object transforms occur around a single anchor point belonging to the group.

Figure. Canvas window showing a group being scaled.