I would like to know if there’s the possibility to move and modify (lines/edges) of a shape not using the axies of the document/artwork but the axies of the shape/edges itself in Adobe Illustrator.

I mean something similar that happens for the 3d object in the 3d environment.

For example, in the image below I would like to move/edit the object using the gray axies. For a regular shape like a square is possible edit using gray axies but isn't the same for others shapes.

enter image description here

Here an example of how it works with a 3d object.

enter image description here


  • Sure, its a bit cumbersome, so usually its easier to make a line and slide against that. Mainly because adjusting the direction is hidden under settings and making a tangent line is a 3 click combo that is easily recorded as action at the same time you get opportunities for a very accurate move.
    – joojaa
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 14:34

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, Illustrator has no real 3D structure to speak of. Much of the time trying to mimic what is so basic in a 3D app is overly convoluted and troublesome in Illustrator.

There may be third-party plugins which might help, such as the Protractor Panel -- which is part of VectorScribe from AstuteGraphics.com -- or CadTools from HotDoor.com. Whether or not these will assist with your needs, only you can determine. There are free trials available.

Barring plug-ins, this comes down to adjusting the Constrain Angle in the Preferences then resetting it. (The Protractor Panel, mentioned previously, simply adds a UI panel for this preference setting, making it more accessible.)

I'd hazard a guess that most users merely adapt and learn to move paths carefully -- which can be done easily with the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow). Unfortunately, Illustrator contains no inherent constraining to random angles on the fly.

  • alt linetool type select drag delete line
    – joojaa
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 16:42
  • Yes, that works too... Just pointing out that there may be workarounds.. but it's not an inherent thing like in 3D apps.
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 16:43
  • i often wondered about the fact that 2D apps deliberately chose to hide the transformations of object hierarchies. Anyway 3D apps need these gizmos to get anything effectively done.
    – joojaa
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 16:45
  • This, in particular, has always annoyed me about Illustrator. There's no logical reason I can think of as to why AI can't merely constrain to an angle.
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 16:55
  • 1
    it seems to be a paradigm thing since 2D anything seem to have same problem
    – joojaa
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 21:36

Modifying, such as selecting two points on one side and dragging it, will definitely change the overall shape because of things such as one point perspective. However, you can move the overall path with a complicated method.

Setup for a random quadrilateral to be moved at an angle

Note: This example's coordinates are:
a = 379.8108, 349.5676
b = 279.8108, 349.5676
c = 385.2162, 213.0811
d = 306.1622, 273.2162

  • Make a line like f. The way to do that is (a - b) / 2 + b which is the midpoint between a and b's x-values. In my example, it would be (379.8108 - 279.8108) / 2 + 279.8108 = 329.8108. Make a point with x at 329.8108; y should not matter at that step. If the y coordinates are different, then move the point to where it meets the path and have the x coordinate stay the same as the calculation. Do the same for c and d. Once the two points are made, those should be connected so it becomes a line or a path. Without "Snap to Grid" or "Snap to Pixel", the path will still recognize you trying to lengthen f.
  • Make a line like e, having the y value of where you'd like the lowest y coordinate value point to be.
  • Select both the path and f.
  • Use the "option" or "alt" key to select f. This will make it so the focus will go more towards f.
  • Drag both towards e while keeping f stay at the same Δx, Δy coordinates (meaning f will also be dragged, but you can view and also have a "Snap to Point" function in it, though it's not a requirement).
  • Once c or the lowest y coordinate value point on the path, makes it to e, you have completed a transition.

It would end up looking like this: Final placement of path

Besides this, there seem to not be many solutions; Others may contain even more extra steps or additional paths, lines, calculations, etc.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.