Live Symmetry in Adobe Illustrator

It may not be the most crucial tactic to have in your arsenal of Illustrator trick and tips but it’s a good one to know. Live symmetry in Illy can really speed up your workflow as well as give you insight into how a piece of art or illustration looks before you waste time doing all selecting, grouping and horizontal flippin’ out! You can either watch the video for the TL:DR folks or follow the steps below to find out how to accomplish this cool trick.



Create a new Canvas (size doesn’t matter or effect the trick) to the size you’d like.



STEP 2 (Shortcut used: CTRL+U Smart Guides)

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Using the Rectangle tool, stretch a rectangle to border the outside of the canvas, allow the canvas to be inside the newly created rectangle object. (You can also use “Smart Guides” to snap the rectangle to the exact border of the artboard) Also, make sure to remove all the appearance settings from the rectangle (No stroke or Fill)



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With the rectangle still selected head to the Align panel, make sure the “Align to:” setting has “Artboard” active. Then in the section labeled “Align Objects:” hit both the Align Horizontal and Align Vertical Options.


STEP 4 (Shortcut used: CTRL+R, Toggles Canvas Rulers)

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Now, while the rectangle is aligned and still selected, drag out a vertical guide and then hover above the center point marker created by the Smart Guide, the guide should snap to it. Then release. This is more fairly important to the live symmetry technique in that it helps you visually locate to point where the artwork you create will mirror itself.



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Ok, now most of the hard work is done so head over the the main menu and select Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform.. With the transform menu open, in the “Copies” option box enter “1” and then and select the reflect option you need. ( Reflect X for left and right mirroring, Reflect Y for Top and Bottom mirroring) Now that you have the actually live symmetry portion of this technique setup, go ahead and lock the sublayer that has the rectangle. Now click back to the main layer itself and get drawing and watch as illustrator mirrors your illustrations and artwork with perfect symmetry!


Show a little love and download the final artwork from the tutorial for free. Use it for personal and commercial use too!


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