How do you move several objects radially in illustrator? I want to mimic an explosion effect.

In other words, I have several objects in illustrator and I want to separate them further. doing it manually is not an option as they are more than 100 individual objects. you can see an example of what I am trying to accomplish here:


I could also try to write my own script (I am comfortable at programming) though I don't know how I could do that in illustrator.

If it is not possible in illustrator is it possible on another compatible program?


  • 1
    Do the objects need to remain the same size? Or should they grow as the get farther away (as in an explosion)? What is the nature of the objects (standard shapes, symbols)? Something like this what you are after : i.stack.imgur.com/jL4Ly.png ?
    – Scott
    Aug 29, 2013 at 23:26
  • The objects need to remain the same size. The objects are standrad shapes. the intended result is on the edited post
    – gota
    Aug 30, 2013 at 11:34

3 Answers 3


If you just want a random dispersion of shapes you can select the shapes and choose Object > Transform Each.. Then tick the "random" option and adjust the two "move" sliders....


Each alteration of the move sliders (or angle) will result in a slightly different position for each object.

It's difficult to move objects away from one another automatically without scripting, especially if the objects need to remain at their current size.

If the objects were symbols, moving and retaining size is a snap. But turning 100 separate objects into 100 separate symbols is no easier than moving each object manually.

You may indeed need scripting here... which I'll leave to another answer form someone else I hope.


The best way to characterize this is more of a 'sexy' technique which is interesting as an example, but definitely not as practical as Scott's answer. In fact, this answer is highly impractical, but is interesting from a customization perspective. On a high level what I did:

  1. I took an outline I created in Illustrator.
  2. Imported that outline into Cinema 4d.
  3. Took an extrude nurb, and then applied an explosion FX.
  4. I then rendered some key frames and then imported them into Photoshop to invert their colors to black on white background like you've provided in your question.

The only real advantage of this is that you have a high degree of customization on the explosion technique that you apply in Cinema 4d. You can even animate the explosion, should that be the effect you are going for. It took less than 20 minutes to do this, by the way, so not too crazy in terms of time spent.

Here is the result.

R1 R2 R3 R4 R5

I could easily see this technique being used if you intended the explosion as a design element and didn't care about vectors anymore.


I find a way to mimick an explosion that is satisfactory for me, it combines some solutions from @Scott's answer.

Steps to apply explosion effect on illustrator

Basically I first fragment the shape,

then I uniformly scale the grouped fragments,

then I scale down each separately using 'transform each'. This is a way to move objects radially,

for the explosion effect I further 'transform each' to apply a random small rotation to each fragment

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