I don't know how to ask this question in general form so I will begin with an example. I would like to scale (and/or resize) the orange rectangle, but keep the two blue squares (1) the same size, and (2) anchored to the corners of the orange rectangle.

So, starting from here enter image description here resizing the group gives enter image description here (note how the blue rectangles got distorted)

when what I really want is enter image description here

Is there a good way to accomplish this? Of course, if I only wanted to do this once, I can align manually. But I will need to do it often and in more complex cases. So I would like to know if there is a principled way of doing this!

2 Answers 2


Groups are pretty blunt tools; either things are grouped or they are not. Since all of the objects are part of a group, they will all be treated as a single object.

The only way around this would be to use the direct selection tool (the white arrow, not the black arrow, at the top of the tool bar), drag-select the parts you want to move, and then click+drag them to the desired location.

  • thanks! I'll look to InDesign next to see if something like this can be done there... May 18, 2011 at 16:25

In modern versions of Illustrator (I'm not sure what version it was introduced) you can create a Symbol with 9-patch guides to achieve this goal exactly.

  1. Create the orange rectangle with two squares, and select all three.
  2. In the Symbols palette, click the New Symbol button at bottom.
    • In the ensuing dialog, be sure to check "Enable Guides for 9-Slice Scaling". enter image description here
  3. In the Symbols palette, click the "Symbol Options" button (or click "Edit Symbol" in the control palette, or double-click the symbol in the Symbols palette).

    • Illustrator will switch to a view where you're editing only the symbol.
  4. Drag the dotted guides so that areas you want to keep unscaled remain outside the middle of the 'box':
    enter image description here

  5. At the top of the document, click the arrow to leave editing the symbol and return do your illustration:
    enter image description here
  6. Voila! Now, when you scale your symbol instance, the blue squares in the corners will remain unaffected!
    enter image description here
    • If you attempt to scale your symbol so small that the corners MUST scale, they will.

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