I'm assembling panels of multiple images in Illustrator CS5. The images are similar, but of slightly different sizes, therefore I put each image in a clipping mask, so the final sizes of clipped images are the same, so they can be arranged in a grid. The magnification of the images should be exactly the same, for example, I scale all the images to 5% and then I put them in a clipping mask.

I've made a grid of 2 x 2 images and then reused this grid, to put a different set of images inside the clipping masks. The four images in the initial grid were scaled to 5%, but when I relink an image inside the clipping mask and choose a different one, the scaling changes - as seen in this screenshot to 4.708% for this particular image:

illustrator scale of the linked image

So my question is: is it possible to re-scale the image(s) to exactly 5%? I tried Object-Transform-Scale, but the initial value is always 100%, so I would have to calculate percentage for each image separately, like 5/4.708*100% for the one in the screenshot. Is it possible to use an absolute scaling percentage for image transformation?

2 Answers 2


So the solution for absolute scaling of objects (inside a clipping mask) is to do it in InDesign:

I have an image placed inside a rectangular clipping mask (the mask is defining the final printing size of the image). I need to arrange several images together, all of them should be printed at the same size AND the same magnification (this can be expressed as effective PPI). The source images are of slightly different sizes, so when I want to replace (relink) an image with a different image, the PPI will change, because the new images will be fit in size of the container of the old image. The scaling percentage will change, as seen below (the absolute image scaling factor should be 5%, the effective PPI should be 1440):

Scaling percentage of a relinked image in InDesign

I can access the image inside the clipping mask by double-clicking it two times (1. to select the image container, 2. to select the image itself). The image will appear in an orange selection rectangle and the absolute scaling will be visible in the ribbon (marked with a red box). Here I can replace the values with 5% and I have a perfectly correct magnification for the new image also:

Absolute scaling of images can be done in InDesign

I wish Illustrator would have this extra control over the scaling of objects, but if it can be done in InDesign, it's fine too.

This question was posted also on Adobe's Illustrator forum and the people there pointed me towards using InDesign: https://forums.adobe.com/message/9999335


I only have Illustrator CC, so that's all I can answer to. And I realize this question is old. But I wanted to post here for future people who stumble across this looking for a solution like I did.

As it turns out, there is a setting to fix just this problem. In the links panel, highlight the link you want to change the setting for, and click on the "additional options" button in the upper right of the panel (the three horizontal lines). Click on "Placement Options", and voila! The resulting panel gives you a number of ways to fix this problem from a drop-down.

Hope this helps.

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