first time user here, just created an account. I am making a board game and I'm in the printing phase. I have made some .svg hexagons to act as tiles for the game and now I need to put them on an artboard and get them printed and cut. However, I am encountering a very frustrating issue in Illustrator (CS6). I place the first hex, the second one snaps perfectly underneath it, but when I go for the third ne, to the side, to place it in between the first 2, it doesn't snap in place and is always a bit aschew.

I tried grabbing it by the anchor point and that sort of works, but apparently not all the time. I tried holding shift down and it doesn't even want to get close to the first 2 hexes. I am desperate and obviously have no clue what I'm doing. But I'm not currently in a position to pay someone to do it for me, so I'm just looking for advice.

I also read somewhere that it can't actually be done and if I try to make a grid it will always be a bit weird here and there, which sounds like bogus to me.

And here's the thing. In order to print it, I need the borders to snap perfectly in place, but also to delete one of them. Normally I'd try with 3 lines at 120 degrees from each other, but I already have the hexagons as individual graphic files, with drawings on them and everything, so that's not really an option at this point.

In conclusion, sorry for the long text, I'm panicky. I need to place a lot of hexagons on one artboard, then click on a magic button that rearranges all of them from all over the place to perfectly snap to each other and forming a grid. Can that be done? I feel like it should be really simple but I'm just missing something.

Please help and thanks in advance! ArK

  • Since hexagons can be aligned in a few different ways, please show how the pattern should look, even if it's only 2 or 3 hexagons.
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 23:06
  • Use the pattern editor to tile hexagons.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 1:30
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? How to make a hexagonal grid?
    – Welz
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 1:59

2 Answers 2


Use smart guides. Go to View> Smart Guides and make sure it has a check mark next to it (or click on it to turn the check mark on). In my .gif I have the measurements labels enabled (this can be annoying). You can change smart guides settings by going to Illustrator> Preferences> Smart Guides. Make sure you have the Alignment Guides checkbox on.

I use the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) to select the various objects/ parts. Note that the direct select tool will select an anchor point or a line segment (line between 2 anchor points) if you click on them. It will also select several of either of those if you click and drag on them. It will select the entire object if you alt/option click anywhere on the object.

Another important step is to click and drag from an anchor point and not a line segment if you are trying to get the anchor points to snap exactly.

In my animation I selected and deleted both line segments and anchor points so there were no overlapping line segments as you requested. This may cause trouble for you, depending on how your objects were constructed as it will mess with any fill color you have in the hexagon.

It is also easier to check the actual alignment in Outline mode (View> Outline) rather than Preview mode.

enter image description here

  • Nice try, however having to remove edges of a hexagon is a horrible hack. It shouldn't be this difficult. Smart guides just don't work properly for hexagons. In Illustrator it might be better to use the pattern editor for this. Personally, I just jump into Inkscape when I need to do accurate snapping. Sometimes Illustrator is just hopeless.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 1:28
  • 1
    Haha, thanks @Billy Kerr- I thought they said they needed the borders to snap perfectly and then delete one of them- maybe I misunderstood- that is why I did "the hack". Someday I will have to look into Inkscape...
    – Kyle
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 1:40
  • Yeah, seriously you should. And Adobe should also take a look, they might learn something. It's shocking really, when you consider Inkscape is Open Source and free, and how much Illustrator costs. I use both regularly, but there are times when using Illustrator feels like having a physical disability.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 1:50
  • 1
    @BillyKerr illustrator snaps this fine just disable alugnment guides and use the white arrow
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 6:21
  • 1
    Also @BillyKerr when you send a file to a cutter, it cuts all lines, even overlapping ones so if you do prepare for cutting you should delete the duplicate ends. This has nothing to do with illustrator but cutters themselves. Even in inkscape.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 6:54

Ok, snapping in illustrator works differently depending on version. The trick to get it consistently right no matter how old version you have is as follows.

  1. Make sure you have smart guides on, gridsnapping and pixel snapping OFF, and point snapping on

    Explanation: gridsnapping overrides all other actions. Same with pixel snapping. (I dont know of a reason to ever turn pixel snapping on even if you try to draw pixel perfect) Pixel snapping is problematic in illustrator cs6 as its on by default if you have a rgb document and you need to turn it of in transformation panel.

  2. Use the direct selection (white arrow) tool to do the dragging.

  3. Then start dragging the component from one corver point of your tile.

  4. Drag the corner to corresponding corner.

Other issues if there is a lot of stuff in your scene. And i meana lot. Then older illustrators start to prune off the snapping tree. So try to make sure the object is below the object and is not a template layer. You try to snap or use the corresponding hotkey to enable more thorough snapping.

Anyway, the reason people end in troubles with snapping is that by default there is too many snapping options on in illustrator so its very easy to snap to something you didnt intend by mistake. It takes a bit of experience to keep a eye on what actually happened.

  • While point snapping seems to work most of the time, after testing this I have found that for some reason it can still be quite fiddly to get it to snap properly, on occasion having to choose a different anchor point to drag from, drag away, then drag back. It's almost as if the Smart Guides sometimes conflict with the point snapping. Looks like Adobe has some way to go to make this as easy as it is in Inkscape. To be fair I haven't upgraded to CC2020 yet. I'm still on 2018. Maybe they've improved its reliability. +1 anyway for this trick!
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 10:54
  • @BillyKerr disable alignment guides. They are great if you make typographic layout but if you have more objects and complex shapes then you get too many snap . Really adobes falt is not offering snap settings as a panel but that would be showing its complex. Illustrators snapping is better than inkscapes if you just disable the features you dont use.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 13:13
  • 1
    It seems to be the case that nearly all illustrator defaults are bad for me. I need to change atleast 12 things in illistrator to start using it. Some of these settings are so godamn stupid that it makes it impossible to learn illustrator.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 13:19
  • disabling alignment guides doesnt' work for me. Arguably it's worse. I reckon this is buggy in my copy. It's just not working.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 17:43

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