When using Illustrator's interactive Scale Tool, how do you scale an object uniformly?

  • Yes, but the manual's information about the exact operation is actually plain wrong when you have Smart Guides turned on: Specifically the part saying "While using the Scale tool with the Shift key, start dragging at an angle of 45° horizontally or vertically but in an angle". This only counts for Smart Guides off, otherwise if using Shift, it will squash the object and only scale in horizontal or vertical direction. – Henrik Feb 12 at 11:22
  • ^ I should say, sometimes, not consistently. Which is why Shift should rather not be pressed when uniformly scaling with Smart Guides On (see gif in my answer below). – Henrik Feb 12 at 12:34

Depress and hold the Shift key and drag from a general corner area while using the tool.

If you drag closer to a side, you'll see the scale take on a more vertical or horizontal aspect, merely move the cursor (while still dragging) closer to a corner region.


Found the answer: If you have Smart Guides turned off, hold Shift while dragging. If you have Smart Guides turned on, holding Shift might render iffy results, sometimes squashing the object horizontally or vertically even if you're doing it right.

enter image description here

There are two gotchas when Smart Guides are On:

First, although arguably cryptically described in the manual, you have to drag along the exact tangent relative to the reference point, and then a guide appears indicating that you're scaling proportionally/uniformly. (Some people might've expected to be able to simply drag like when Smart Guides are off, but that won't workj until you've found that 'uniform line'.)

Secondly, and this is where the manual seems misleading: You should not hold Shift at all when dragging if Smart Guides are On. Reason being that, if you're dragging from a certain angle (this is getting complicated to describe, better see my included gif) your object will actually get squashed horizontally or vertically. This behavior is inconsistent, but annoying nevertheless. And simply not using Shift here, removes the issue. I.e. the opposite of what the manual is mentioning (Shift pressed).

  • 1
    Kind of confusing...hold Shift while dragging an anchor point.... erm.. you don't "drag anchor points" with the Scale tool. – Scott Feb 12 at 11:07
  • @Scott you can drag anchor points, you dont have to offcourse but you can. Which is nbify if you want to match scale (and rotation) – joojaa Feb 12 at 11:51
  • @joojaa Hmm.. With the Scale tool I can't drag any anchor point.. I can scale an anchor point (and its handles) but I can't drag any anchor point. "Drag", to me, is associated with altering an anchors position. – Scott Feb 12 at 12:00
  • @Scott so scaling does not alter position now? Ill shut up now ;) – joojaa Feb 12 at 12:18
  • @joojaa for an anchor point no. Scaling doesn't alter position. If you scale an object then, yes, its anchors will change position. To my point.. one does not "drag an anchor" with the scale tool - but if you scale an object yes the anchor positions will change, which may make it appear that the user is "dragging an anchor point" but the reality is they are not. It's no different than scaling with the Bounding Box.. you aren't "dragging anchors" even though their positions will change. – Scott Feb 12 at 12:23

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