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In Photoshop, I am able to lock specific aspects of a layer individually: transparency, content and location. I find myself in need of this functionality in Adobe Illustrator.

Is there a way to have an object be locked just in regards to its position? I want the object to stay put whatever I do, but I still want to be able to select it to change its colour or appearance. I just want it to not move.

I am using Illustrator CS6, if that matters.

For context: I am creating some pixel art with triangular pixels. I just created a huge grid of triangles, but when I'm selecting those to change their colour, I tend to move them ever so slightly, ruining my meticulously fabricated grid.

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  • Not as far as I know. Locking a layer, group, or object prevents selection and editing of the items that are locked. The preference you are talking about is for InDesign anyway, not Illustrator. Can't you just work with everything locked, then if you need to edit something, temporarily unlock the layer, make the change, and re-enable the lock?
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 10 '20 at 17:46
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    Are your "pixels" aligned in a grid with no blanks? (You can use transparent ones if so) Then you can use the Align panel to distribute spacing first horizontally and then vertically or vice-versa. Thus you could color as you wish and at the end select all to re-fit everything together. (Of course this will only work if your accidental moving of items is very small in distance.)
    – Silly-V
    Dec 10 '20 at 17:46
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    Note that question you linked to... the quote is for InDesign, not Illustrator. AI has no such preference,
    – Scott
    Dec 10 '20 at 18:52
  • @Silly-V even just enabling plain old snap to grid might work for what the OP wants. It would avoid the problem of snapping to tiny pixels, assuming of course that the triangles can fit on a square grid.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 10 '20 at 19:11
  • Thanks for catching the InDesign booboo, @BillyKerr and Scott. I removed the offending sentence.
    – Vincent
    Dec 10 '20 at 19:24
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No

Illustrator objects are either locked entirely, or not locked entirely.

It is not possible to lock only specific aspects of any object within Adobe Illustrator.

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    Thanks. Of course, not what I wanted to hear. But thanks anyway 🙂
    – Vincent
    Dec 10 '20 at 19:25
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    Just for giggles.. the odd thing about AI in my experience is if you lock 1 object within a group.... and then move the group... that locked object will change position with the group. The locking is kind of inconsistent for position.
    – Scott
    Dec 10 '20 at 19:31
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Use the Eyedropper Tool instead.

Make sure everything is unselected (ctrl-shift-A), set the fill/stroke color to what you want, then apply the color to any shapes with the Eyedropper (I to set tool, alt-click to use).

This will allow you to quickly click on objects to change the color without the chance of changing position. Just remember that alt key or you'll just end up picking it's color instead.

After playing around with a little: if you have a complex appearance you need to apply (dashes, multiple strokes, ect.), make sure to save it as a Graphic Style first, select that style, and then use the Eyedropper to apply it.

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    That works like a charm! :D
    – Vincent
    Dec 11 '20 at 15:06
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What you can do, but not sure this is practical in your case, is to break the artwork into layers, and lock layers with specific attributes. Then, when you need to change the color on a specific selection of triangles, you unlock that layer, select all, change color and lock the layer again.

This way, you're not using the mouse for the actual selection and you can lock the entire layer back to make sure it stays in place.

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  • Nice idea, but unfortunately impractical. I am using hundreds if not thousands of pixels, and they start out ungrouped and all the same colour...
    – Vincent
    Dec 11 '20 at 8:13
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Another workaround method-

If you are merely trying to color your triangles then the Live Paint Tool will work.

Create a copy of your triangle grid below your actual artwork grid that you then set as guides (and its visibility can be easily toggled on and off from the Layers Panel).

The idea being that you can color your art without having to use the selection tool and there is no possibility of your triangles accidentally being moved.

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  • I tried this, and it works as intended, except that it kills transparency of the objects in the live paint group. Since I have a reference image to pixel over behind my objects, that transparency is essential.
    – Vincent
    Dec 11 '20 at 16:11
  • Ah- I see- so you are manually pixellating over an image- A very nice idea- I like it ! I don't have time to check right now, but, a thought that possibly you could change opacity on the Live Paint layer to be able to see through it ?
    – Kyle
    Dec 11 '20 at 16:36
  • Will try, thanks!
    – Vincent
    Dec 11 '20 at 17:23

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