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I have a triangle I'm trying to rotate in Illustrator using the Object->Transform->Transform Each command, but I can't figure out how to set the rotation point like I can if I just use Free Transform.

This is important because the rotation point is at the center of the square bounding box, not at the center of the triangle.

Is there a way to set the rotation point? Or do I have to manipulate the bounding box somehow?

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11 Answers 11

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Doesn't look like there is a way to permanently alter an object's rotate point. You can use the Rotate tool or Free Transform to change it temporarily, but it resets to the center of the object once you change to a different tool.

If you just do a simple rotate using the selection tool instead of Rotate or Transform Each, it will use the bounding box. Otherwise you're stuck with the object's calculated center.

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Yeah, bummer. I really wanted to find a way with the Transform Each tool because I would be CTRL+D-ing the transformation to repeat it multiple times. Would take more time to do a rotate, then a resize each time, etc. – bccarlso Apr 14 '11 at 22:00
Actually T11's method works well, and can be used to effectively permanently alter the centre used in Transform Each scaling, moving or rotation. The slight variant in my comment on that answer is good for temporarily changing the centre. – user568458 Jan 15 '13 at 13:20

There is a way with the Rotate Tool (R)

  1. Select your triangle
  2. Click the Rotate tool
  3. Pressing alt click where you want your center to be.
  4. A dialog should popup prompting for an angle. You can go on an fill it out.

When ready press the "Copy" Button and then Ctrl+D for transform againas many times as you want copies.

After understanding that the object should be BOTH rotated and moved- or scaled- each. What about adding "hidden" (no line no fill) artwork to transform the bounding box so the center is where you want it to? You could then transform each this group any way you like.

If you don't like the hidden artwork you could make your object with the hidden objects a symbol. Then you could transform/rotate/scale it and in the end edit the symbol. This way all instances get updated accordingly. This might, however change the position of each of these instances.

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Clever...... +1 – Farray Apr 14 '11 at 21:46
Yeah, I knew about ALT+Clicking for the rotate tool, but unfortunately it looks impossible to move the rotation point for a Transform Each. – bccarlso Apr 14 '11 at 22:01
@bccarlso I got it wrong then. You want to rotate AND move/scale each... – leugim Apr 14 '11 at 22:12

I realize I'm a bit late to this, but in case anyone else is wondering, there is a workaround that may be helpful. I can create a one-point object (just click with the pen tool, for example) and group it with the object that I want to be able to control the rotation center on. The new group now has a center between the original object and the "one-point" object, so I have plenty of control over where that is. I'm just manipulating the group instead of the object.

Note that instead of making an object that has just one point, you can also create a regular shape and just make it invisible.

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I was just about to post saying more or less the same. I call it "green screening" because I use bright green rectangles at low opacity, grouped behind each object - then when I'm done transform-eaching, I select one green rectangle with the direct selection tool (A), then select > same > fill color and delete them all. Makes cleanup easy and means there's no need to ungroup after and risk accidentally ungrouping too far. – user568458 Aug 22 '12 at 8:37

erm.. the bounding box center is the same as the object's center. The two points are always identical. The Bounding Box is drawn form the objects center to its outermost edges.

You can somewhat adjust the rotation point by using the 9 point origin box in the Transform Each options dialog.

Transform each

But if you are looking for free form placement of the origin point, you won't get that with any automated rotation. You'd need to look at scripting.

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You could script this. The center of a triangle is the barycentric coordinate, which is just the vector average. So:

#target illustrator
// CC BY SA Janne Ojala 2014

function rotate_around_vertex_average(obj, ang) {
    var points = obj.pathPoints;
    var x = 0;
    var y = 0;

    for(var i=0; i < points.length; i++){
        point = points[i];
        x += point.anchor[0];
        y += point.anchor[1];
    var x_c = x/points.length;
    var y_c = y/points.length;

    var rot = getRotationMatrix(15);
    var mov = getTranslationMatrix(x_c, y_c);
    var inv = invertMatrix(mov);
    var mtx = concatenateMatrix(inv, rot);
    var mtx = concatenateMatrix(mtx, mov);
    obj.transform(mtx, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, Transformation.DOCUMENTORIGIN);

objs = app.selection;
for(var i in objs){
    obj = objs[i];
    rotate_around_vertex_average(obj, 15);
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errr.. sorry.. I read it :) – Scott Jul 30 '14 at 20:27
@Scott cool then i will make more answers – joojaa Jul 30 '14 at 20:29

I would explore the actions panel - you could create a new action that rotates, then scales, for example. Then apply that action to the object/s you wish to have rotated and scaled.

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  1. Select your object & select rotate tool
  2. Move the pivot to your desired position
  3. ALT + Drag to rotate
  4. CTL + D to duplicate

Note: Dont change the tool. Just rotate.

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The way I do this is: 1- convert first the object to symbol 2- Center de object where you want, if you want align the symbol with your reference object, it mean the pivots are coincident now. 3-double click in the symbol to enter in edit mode 4-Change the position of your symbol where you want. 5-Exit edit mode and, you should have the pivot of your symbol out of the symbol and placed exactly where you need.

My website is If my comment is useful for you, follow me in facebook, I´m Disennior :)

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In Illustrator CC 2014:

  1. Select object

  2. Press the R key

  3. Move reference point

( Use the Rotate Tool not the Object>Transform>Rotate or Free Transform )

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Viswanath's comment is better… however it lacks the R shortcut. Please delete. – Anonymous Jul 30 '14 at 19:24

Check this site out. It will give you a way:

When the graphic is dragged into the Symbols panel, the Symbols Options dialog box appears. In it, you can type a name for the new symbol.

An easy way of setting the registration point is to click one of the positions available on the registration option matrix. The default registration point is set to the centre of the matrix. In total, there are nine registration point positions to choose from. After a graphic is registered as a symbol, the registration point is indicated by a black crosshair when the symbol is selected.

In order to tweak the registration point position, double-click a symbol to enter isolation mode. In isolation mode, the registration point is stationary, meaning that to change the position of it, the symbol should be moved.

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Make a circle with it's centre wherever you need your pivot (use snapping if useful) that is larger than the extent of the object or objects you intend to rotate. Send to Back ( shift+ctrl+[ ) so it is behind your objects, just so you can see them easily. then select the object or objects you want to rotate plus your new circle, and rotate away. Delete when you're done or, if you want this new pivot to be permanent, make the fill and outline of the circle null and group it with the object or objects.

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