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I'm having trouble finding a successful way to get precise shape snapping in Illustrator.

I don't know how to get circles to align with each other when along a diagonal edge, like in the hippo example below.

This is a common tactic for logos and icons, but I can't seem to find an easy way to get circles to align when they're not perpendicular.

enter image description here

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I would align first some squares, snapping them (diagonally) on the corners and make as many as circles I need, or distance, then I would snap to center the circles to the corresponding square. Making sure all vertices of the square are touching the circle, guarantees the circles will not overlap.

Also if you can snap to line and edges (can't remember if you can on Illustrator), you can make a line, rotate it and snap to center the circles there, making sure the edges touch too so they dont overlap.

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