Using the Rotate and Reflect Tools

Chad Neuman, Ph.D.
A free video tutorial from Chad Neuman, Ph.D.
Professor / Graphic Designer / Photographer 20+ yrs exp.
4.4 instructor rating • 15 courses • 517,956 students

Lecture description

In this lesson, you'll learn how to use the Rotate Tool and Reflect Tool in Illustrator.

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03:14:28 of on-demand video • Updated May 2020

  • Design illustrations with Adobe Illustrator
  • Use the various tools of Illustrator
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English In this lesson you'll learn about the Rotate tool as well as the Reflect tool in Illustrator. If you want to go ahead and follow along, open the support files, and from the support files. And when we use the Rotate tool, some people might think, well why do we need that tool? Can't we just go to the Selection tool, select what we want to rotate, hover over a corner, off the corner a little bit and click and drag and hold SHIFT for 45, 90 degree and so on angles. That is true, we can rotate it that way. However the Rotate tool gives us a couple more options and customizability. So you'll notice when you select something with the Selection tool first, then select the Rotate tool, you'll see this little thing in the middle here. This is a rotation point so by default, if I just click and drag anywhere. I don't have to go right off the edge, I can click and drag anywhere here in the workspace and it will rotate it along that axis basically, along that point really. So what if we wanted to rotate on a different point? What we can do is just hover over this and click and drag it over, and now it will rotate around that point so you'll notice the difference. Now it's rotating around that point instead. Another way to do that is if you hold on to ALT on the PC or OPTION on the MAC and then, just turns into this little minus sign next to it and the cursor. If I just click, it resets the point there. You could click over the original or there and then it brings up this Rotate menu. So now we can really set a specific angle. It has Preview, you can Copy it or you can just hit OK, just rotate it and not create a new copy. So it's a little bit more customizable. A couple of short cuts. Of course we know what ALT or OPTION does. If you hold onto CTRL on the PC or Command on the MAC. That toggles it to a selection tool where we can click and drag and move it around. And then as you're rotating it, if you hold SHIFT, it will constrain it to specific angles. So what's a practical use for this? Well, I'll show you if you go to File, New, just create a new document. I'm going to create a leaf design here. So if I click, click and drag with the Pen tool and then click to reset that angle there, click and drag it back over, OK. So I've got a basic leaf here. So if I wanted to rotate this, I could use the Selection tool, right, and it would select it but it's rotating it just from the center. What if I want to just rotate it and have the rotation point over here? Well choose the Rotate tool and I'm going to ALT on the PC or OPTION on the MAC and click right here so it resets the point here, and for Angle, let's do, it needs to be divisible by 360 degrees so I'm going to do 10 and so you can toggle the Preview. You'll see the before and after. I'm actually going to click Copy and then I'm going to press CTRL on the PC or Command on the MAC and press the D or you could go to Object, Transform, Transform again. So if I do that, and just hold onto it, it creates the spiral pattern here, a rotated pattern. So it's pretty cool. That's one application of it, of the Rotate tool. If you click and hold onto the Rotate tool and go to the Reflect tool, this is a little bit different and you just select all of this. So go ahead and open up Click and drag around this person and I'm going to hold SHIFT and click the background so I deselect the background. I just want him selected. Now we could of course rotate this. We could click and drag it so it kind of reflects it but we don't know if it's the same exact width. I could hold SHIFT and it would actually flip it like that. I can hold ALT and it will just expand from the center. But what if we want just a specific reflection, the same exact width? I'm going to press CTRL or Command Z to undo that. So once you have them all selected, click and hold onto the Rotate tool and select the Reflect tool and you can click and drag and it just reflects. If I hold down ALT and click over here though, it will actually reflect it at a specific angle. So you can actually customize it or you can just say Horizontal or Vertical. So Vertical would be 90 degree angle and click Copy. And then you can then create a copy as well. So then I know it's the same exact width so you're not stretching it out, making him too small. So it can be pretty useful as well, not just with one object but as we've shown here, there's a bunch of objects put together. You can have a bunch of shapes and you want to reflect it on the left hand side or the right hand side. You can select them all and then select the Reflect tool and again, just hold ALT on the PC or OPTION on the MAC and you can enter in a specific value. So that's the Rotate and the Reflect tools. I hope you learned a lot about these two tools, Just practice with them and you'll get better and you'll see the different applications where we would use those when we want to rotate something, maybe create some kind of pattern or even rotating something along the middle. Like if I use the Star tool and make kind of a burst, hold SHIFT so it's level there and then Rotate, click right in the middle there, same kind of thing. Copy, Control D to repeat. You come up with some pretty cool patterns. So there are a lot of different applications for the Rotate and Reflect tool. I will see you in the next lesson.