2D Transform Tools

Before you transform an object in the Canvas, you should make sure that the pointer is set to the correct transform tool. These tools can be selected from the View tool set in the Toolbar. Selecting a 2D transform tool in the Toolbar activates a corresponding onscreen control in the Canvas. You modify objects by manipulating the active onscreen control.

There are nine 2D transform tools:

Figure. Transform tools.

Note: Certain tools are automatically activated when certain objects are selected. The Adjust Control Points tool becomes available when a shape or mask is selected and is used to adjust Bezier or B-Spline control points. The Adjust Item tool becomes available when the selected item has additional onscreen controls, such as a filter or a gradient generator.

To switch among transform tools
Do one of the following:
  • Click the Select/Transform tool in the Toolbar, then, while holding down the mouse button, choose a transform tool from the pop-up menu.

  • With an object in the Canvas selected, press Tab. Pressing Tab repeatedly cycles the Canvas through each of the transform modes in order.

  • Control-click any object in the Canvas, then choose a transform mode from the shortcut menu.

    Figure. Canvas window showing an object's shortcut menu.

    The options in the shortcut menu vary depending on the type of object that is selected. For example, a shape contains shape-specific options such as Stroke, Edit Gradient, and Edit Points. Those options do not apply to an image.

    Note: Press Shift-Tab to cycle through the transform modes in reverse.

For more information about 3D transform tools, see 3D Transform Tools.

Moving Objects in the Canvas

The simplest thing you can do to start arranging the objects in your project is to move them around. With the exception of the Adjust Drop Shadow tool, all transform tools let you reposition objects, so this is the one operation you can perform regardless of the currently selected transform tool.

The easiest way to reposition an object is to drag it around within the Canvas. If you want to make more precise adjustments to an object’s position, you can also change the numerical values of an object’s X and Y Position parameters in the Properties tab of the Inspector. For more information on object properties, see Parameters in the Properties Tab.

You can move objects anywhere within the frame defined by the Canvas, but you can also drag objects past the edge of the frame. By default, when you move an object past the edge of the frame, it becomes invisible, although you can still manipulate it using its bounding box.

Figure. Canvas window showing an object positioned outside the viewable area.

Note: The bounding box that indicates the position of objects located offscreen only appears when those objects are selected.

One example of when it’s necessary to move an object past the edge of the frame is when you plan on animating an object so that it flies onscreen. Prior to animating it, you need to move it to a position offscreen to achieve this effect.

Note: To make an object completely visible that is partially or totally outside of the Canvas, turn on Show Full View Area in the View pop-up menu (directly above the right side of the Canvas).

To move one or more objects in the Canvas
  1. Select one or more objects.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Drag an object to another location. If more than one object is selected, dragging one of the currently selected objects moves all of them.

    • Holding down the Command key, press the Right Arrow, Left Arrow, Up Arrow, or Down Arrow key to reposition the selected objects one pixel at a time.

    • Holding down the Command and Shift keys, press the Right Arrow key or the Left Arrow key to reposition the selection ten pixels at a time.

Tip: When repositioning very small objects, zoom into the Canvas to get a better view. For information on zooming in the Canvas, see Canvas Zoom Level.

Note: If you press the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow key while working in the Canvas (without holding down the Command key or Command-Shift key combination), the selection is applied to the next object up or down in the Layers tab.

Using Canvas Compositional Aids

When you’re arranging objects directly in the Canvas, take advantage of various compositional aids to help you. For example, if you are working on a piece for broadcast or film, turn on the safe zones in the Canvas to avoid putting objects past the title-safe or action-safe boundaries. A grid and rulers can also be enabled to provide a useful reference, and Dynamic Guides can be turned on to help you align objects with more precision than by simply looking at them.

Furthermore, snapping can be turned on and off to help you position objects relative to the center and edges of the Canvas, either with or without the other guides enabled.

Note: Press Command while you manipulate an object to temporarily disable snapping, allowing the object to move freely.

For more information about enabling various Canvas options to help you lay out your composition, see Canvas Rulers.

To duplicate an object
Do one of the following:
  • Select the object you want to duplicate, then Option-drag the object.

  • Option-click the object, then choose Duplicate from the shortcut menu.

Using Object Alignment Commands

Several commands in the Object menu let you reposition any number of simultaneously selected objects to align with one another in various ways. These commands make it easy to quickly organize a jumble of objects into an even layout without having to manually line up each individual object.

Figure. Canvas window showing objects being aligned.

In each operation, the left, right, top, and bottom of the selected objects are defined by the bounding box that surrounds each individual object. The position of the anchor point is ignored.

Each of the following commands affects the Position parameter of each object:

  • Align Left Edges: Objects are moved horizontally so that their left edges line up with the leftmost object in the selection.
  • Align Right Edges: Objects are moved horizontally so that their right edges line up with the rightmost object in the selection.
  • Align Top Edges: Objects are moved vertically so that their tops line up with the topmost object in the selection.
  • Align Bottom Edges: Objects are moved vertically so that their bottoms line up with the bottommost object in the selection.
  • Align Far Edges: Objects are moved in Z space so that their far edges line up with the furthest object in the selection.
  • Align Near Edges: Objects are moved in Z space so that their near edges line up with the closest object in the selection.
  • Align Horizontal Centers: Objects are moved horizontally so that their centers line up along the center point between the leftmost and rightmost objects in the selection.
  • Align Vertical Centers: Objects are moved vertically so that their centers line up along the center point between the topmost and bottommost objects in the selection.
  • Align Depth Centers: Objects are moved in Z space so that their centers line up along the center point between the farthest and nearest objects in the selection.
  • Distribute Lefts: Objects are moved horizontally so that the left sides of all objects are evenly distributed, from right to left, between the leftmost and rightmost objects in the selection.
  • Distribute Rights: Objects are moved horizontally so that the right sides of all objects are evenly distributed, from right to left, between the leftmost and rightmost objects in the selection.
  • Distribute Tops: Objects are moved vertically so that the tops of all objects are evenly distributed, from top to bottom, between the topmost and bottommost objects in the selection.
  • Distribute Bottoms: Objects are moved vertically so that the bottoms of all objects are evenly distributed, from top to bottom, between the topmost and bottommost objects in the selection.
  • Distribute Far: Objects are moved in Z space so that the far edges of all objects are evenly distributed along the Z axis, from closest to furthest, between the closest and furthest objects in the selection.
  • Distribute Near: Objects are moved in Z space so that the near edges of all objects are evenly distributed along the Z axis, from closest to furthest, between the closest and furthest objects in the selection.
  • Distribute Horizontal Centers: Objects are moved horizontally so that the centers of all objects are evenly distributed, from left to right, between the leftmost and rightmost objects in the selection.
  • Distribute Vertical Centers: Objects are moved vertically so that the centers of all objects are evenly distributed, from top to bottom, between the topmost and bottommost objects in the selection.
  • Distribute Depth Centers: Objects are moved in Z space so that the centers of all objects are evenly distributed, from closest to furthest, between the closest and furthest objects in the selection.

Using the Select/Transform Tool

The default transform tool is the Select/Transform tool, which activates onscreen controls that enable you to adjust an object’s scale, position, and rotation.

Figure. Select/Transform tool.
Figure. Canvas window showing the standard object Select/Transform controls.

Scaling

When you select an object, eight scale handles appear around the edge of the object’s bounding box. Drag the handles to resize the object. By default, the width and height of an object are not locked together when you adjust scale handles. This means that the aspect ratio of an object can be freely changed. (The aspect ratio of an object is the ratio of its width to its height.) To preserve an object’s aspect ratio, press Shift while dragging a scale handle. Changes made to the scale of an object are applied to the Scale parameter in the Properties tab of the Inspector.

Note: The onscreen Select/Transform controls for Motion-created shapes include a roundness handle in the upper-left corner of the bounding box that is not present in the Select/Transform controls for other objects. For more information, see Creating and Editing Shapes.

To resize the height and width of an object in the Canvas independently
  1. Click to select the object in the Canvas.

    Note: If you have another tool selected, such as the Mask tool, pressing the S key returns you to the transform tools. If necessary, tab through the transform tool states to activate the Select/Transform tool.

    A bounding box appears around the selected object.

    Note: You can also Control-click the object in the Canvas, then choose Transform from the shortcut menu.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Drag one of the corner handles to resize the object’s width and height at the same time. By default, you can resize the width and height independently, by any amount.

      Figure. Canvas window showing an object being scaled without constraint.
    • Press Shift, then drag any of the corner handles to resize the object while locking its width and height together, maintaining the object’s current aspect ratio.

      Figure. Canvas window showing an object being scaled with constraint.
    • Drag the top or bottom scale handle to limit scale changes to the object’s height, or drag the left or right scale handle to limit scale changes to the object’s width.

      Figure. Canvas window showing an object being scaled horizontally.
    • Press Option while dragging any scale handle to resize an object around its anchor point, rather than unilaterally.

      Figure. Canvas window showing an object being scaled around its anchor point.

    As you drag the scale handles, an info window appears and shows you the new width and height percentages and the amount by which the object is changing. This amount is represented by a delta symbol.

    Figure. Canvas window showing the info window that appears when scaling an object.

    Note: Scaling the width or height of an object by a negative value reverses the image, flipping its direction.

Rotating

The Select/Transform tool also activates a handle that allows you to rotate the image around its anchor point. For animation purposes, Motion keeps track of the number of times you’ve rotated the object and stores this value in that object’s Rotation parameter in the Properties tab of the Inspector.

To rotate an object in the Canvas
  1. Click to select the object in the Canvas.

    Note: The Select/Transform mode is the default mode when Motion opens. If it is currently not selected in the Toolbar, click the 2D transform tool button in the Toolbar and choose the Select/Transform tool from the pop-up menu.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Drag the rotation handle to rotate the object.

    • Press Shift while you drag the rotation handle to constrain the angle of the selected object to 45-degree increments.

    As you drag the rotation handle, the original angle of the object is indicated by a small circle that appears on a larger circle surrounding the object’s anchor point. Additionally, an info window appears, showing you the new angle of rotation and the delta of change between the object’s former angle and the angle to which you’ve dragged it.

    Figure. Canvas window showing an object being rotated.

Using the Adjust Anchor Point Tool

Using the Adjust Anchor Point tool, you can move any object’s anchor point, changing the way in which different geometric transforms are performed.

Figure. Adjust Anchor Point tool.

Objects rotate around the anchor point, but the anchor point also affects shearing and resizing operations. For example, the default anchor point for any object is the center of the bounding box that defines its edges. If you rotate an object, it spins around this central anchor point.

Figure. Canvas window showing an object rotating around a center anchor point.

If you move an anchor point, however, the object no longer rotates around its own center, but instead rotates around the new anchor point.

Figure. Canvas window showing an object being rotated around an off-center anchor point.

This not only affects the rotation of an object, but any moving and scaling operations performed upon that object as well. Changes made to an object’s anchor point are stored in the Anchor Point parameter of the Properties tab in the Inspector.

To change the anchor point of an object in the Canvas
  1. Click and hold the Select/Transform tool, then choose the Adjust Anchor Point tool from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Adjust Anchor Point tool.

    In the Canvas, the object’s anchor point appears as a round target surrounded with three colored arrows representing the X, Y, and Z coordinate axes. For more information on coordinate axes, see 3D Transform Onscreen Controls.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Drag the white circle to move the anchor point vertically or horizontally.

    • Drag one of the arrows to move the anchor point along the corresponding axis.

      As you drag the anchor point, a line stretches from the default position of the anchor point to its new position. Additionally, an info window appears and shows you the anchor point’s new coordinates on top and the delta (amount of change) between the anchor point’s new and old positions.

    Note: If the anchor point is close to the center or edges of the object, and Dynamic Guides are turned on, the anchor point snaps to that location.

Using the Adjust Shear Tool

The Adjust Shear tool activates onscreen shear handles that can be used to slant an object, either horizontally or vertically.

Figure. Adjust Shear tool.

This is an isometric operation, so it doesn’t necessarily provide a realistic perspective effect. When you shear an object, this change is stored in that object’s Shear parameter, which can be seen in the Properties tab of the Inspector.

Figure. Canvas window showing an object being sheared.
To shear an object in the Canvas
  1. Click and hold the Select/Transform tool, then choose the Adjust Shear tool from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Adjust Shear tool.
  2. In the Canvas, drag one of the four shear handles to slant the object. The top and bottom controls angle the object horizontally, while the left and right controls angle the object vertically.

Using the Adjust Drop Shadow Tool

The Adjust Drop Shadow tool activates onscreen handles can be used to change the blur, angle, and distance of an object’s drop shadow.

Figure. Adjust Drop Shadow tool.
Figure. Canvas window showing an object's drop shadow being manipulated.
To adjust the drop shadow of an object in the Canvas
  1. Click and hold the Select/Transform tool, then choose the Adjust Drop Shadow tool from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Adjust Drop Shadow tool.
  2. In the Canvas, drag one of the four corner handles to adjust the blur of the drop shadow.

    Drag within the shadow’s bounding box to adjust the distance and angle of the drop shadow.

For more information on working with drop shadows, see Drop Shadows.

Using the Adjust Four Corner Tool

The Adjust Four Corner tool activates onscreen controls that allow you to stretch an object into different polygonal shapes to create false perspective effects and simulate 3D effects and placement within your composition.

Figure. Adjust Four Corner tool.
Figure. Canvas window showing an object being distorted.
To corner-pin an object in the Canvas
  1. Click and hold the Select/Transform tool, then choose the Adjust Four Corner tool from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Adjust Four Corner tool.
  2. In the Canvas, drag each of the four corner handles to stretch the object into the shape you want.

Note: Just as you can with the scale handles, you can reverse the corner handles to flip the image. However, changing the angle of any one corner more than 180 degrees can produce unexpected results.

After you have corner-pinned an object, you can quickly revert back to the object’s original shape by deselecting the object’s Four Corner checkbox in the Properties tab of the Inspector. Doing so resets the shape of the object without resetting the corner-pinning shape you defined in the Four Corner parameter of the Properties tab.

Note: The Four Corner parameter can be used in combination with a tracking behavior to create a four-corner track on a foreground object. For more information, see Option 2: Corner-Pin the Object Before Tracking.

Using the Adjust Crop Tool

The Adjust Crop tool activates onscreen cropping handles that you can drag to resize the borders of an object.

Figure. Adjust Crop tool.

Cropping allows you to chop off each of the four edges of an object to eliminate parts you don’t want to see in your composition. Common examples of objects you’d want to crop are video clips with a black line along the right or left edge because of the video format or with vignetting around the edges because of a wide-angle lens. You can use the crop operation to cut these undesirable artifacts out when using them in your composition. You could also crop an object to isolate a single element of the image, so long as that element can be adequately cut out with a simple rectangular shape.

Figure. Canvas window showing an object being cropped.

Cropping in the Inspector Versus Cropping in the Media Tab

When you crop an imported image using the onscreen transform tool (which is the same as using the Crop controls in the object’s Properties tab), only the instance of that file is cropped. The source image in the Media tab is not cropped. To crop the source image, you must select the object in the Media tab of the Project pane, then use the Crop tools in the Media tab of the Inspector. For more information, see Controls in the Media Tab of the Inspector.

Note: If you need to isolate a more irregularly shaped object, or you want to create a border of a particular shape, see Using Shapes, Masks, and Paint Strokes for more information.

To crop an object in the Canvas
  1. Click and hold the Select/Transform tool, then choose the Adjust Crop tool from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Adjust Crop tool.
  2. In the Canvas, drag one of the eight handles around the edge of the object to crop it:

    • Drag the top, left, right, or bottom handle to only crop that side.

    • Drag one of the four corner handles to crop both corresponding sides simultaneously.

    • Press Shift while you drag to constrain corner edge cropping to the aspect ratio of the object.

      Note: If an object is corner-pinned, you can no longer enable the Crop mode in the Canvas (onscreen controls). You can still crop a corner-pinned object by adjusting its Crop parameter settings in the Properties tab of the Inspector.

Additionally, the crop area and the image can be manipulated separately.

To move the crop area while keeping the underlying image in place
  • Press Command and Option while you drag inside the crop area.

To move the image while keeping the crop area in place
  • Press Command while you drag inside the crop area.

Using the Adjust Control Points Tool

You can modify a shape or mask directly in the Canvas with the Adjust Control Points tool.

Figure. Adjust Control Points tool.
To modify a shape’s control points in the Canvas
  1. Once the shape or mask is created, click and hold the Select/Transform tool, then choose the Adjust Control Points tool from the pop-up menu.

    Note: You can also double-click the shape, or Control-click the object, then choose Edit Points from the shortcut menu to enter the Adjust Control Points mode.

    Figure. Adjust Control Points tool.

    The object’s control points become active.

  2. In the Canvas, drag the points to modify the shape of the object.

For more information on working with shapes and masks, see Using Shapes, Masks, and Paint Strokes.

Using the Adjust Glyph and Adjust Item Tools

The Adjust Glyph tool, available when a text object is selected, activates onscreen controls that allow you to modify the position and X, Y, or Z rotation for individual characters (glyphs) in a text object.

Figure. Glyph Transform tool.

For information on using the Adjust Glyph tool, see Adjusting Glyph Attributes.

Figure. Adjust Item tool.

The Adjust Item tool activates onscreen controls that allow you to manipulate filters, behaviors, generators, and other objects. For example, you can use the Adjust Item tool to adjust the center point of a blur filter, the shape of a particle emitter, or the settings of a gradient.