I'm doing some isometric drawing in Illustrator, and moving my objects around on 0°, 30° and 60° constrained angles. I keep having to go to preferences (Control + K) to change the constrain angle depending on how and where I'm moving something around. Is there a quicker way to handle this?

3 Answers 3


If you're looking for something internal, why not use Smart Guides and adjust the Preferences to show Construction Guides at 30° angles? This will give you a "snap" at the 30° angles. While not the same as constraining, I often find the smart Guides snapping sufficient.

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The only thing perhaps easier than adjusting preferences is using the Protractor Panel which is part of Astute Graphics VectorScribe plug in. However, this is not a free solution. VectorScribe is a paid plug in. I mention it because this is a solution. VectorScribe is a collection of many features. The most simple of all these features is the Protractor Panel. I don't know that I could recommend VectorScribe for the Protractor Panel alone. The cost of VectorScribe may not be worth it for only that feature. However, if you look at all the features which are part of VectorScribe the cost is easily justifiable.

One of the functions of the Protractor Panel is to give you essentially a shortcut to the constrain angles via buttons.

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You can click the angle under the text "Constrain Angle" to get a pop up enabling you to enter any angle. Clicking any of these buttons or entering a value in the pop up simply sets Illustrator's constrain angle to that degree.

  • This is certainly good it solves the illustrators inability to save hotkeys for the scripts.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 14:49
  • 1
    It's not the hotkey.. is the lack of retaining scripts in actions on relaunch which irks me :)
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 14:54
  • I think this could be solved quite easily by making a plugin that makes basically the same menu as file -> scripts, but would initialize earlier on load and then it would work. I must look into this hypothesis one day. Unfortunately I m not really equipped for distributing or testing such a solution wider.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 15:09
  • Ok, there's a really easy way to circumvent this limitation. If you load the action after you have opened the file menu then reload the actions. This confirms that my theory works.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 15:15
  • 1
    Shift-drag does not ever constrain to guides. It constrains to the angle in the preferences. It may appear to constrain to guides if everything is at 90° angles, but shift-drag has no correlation to guides anywhere.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 17:12

Well you could use this jsx script:

var Prefs = app.preferences;
var angle = Prefs.getRealPreference('constrain/angle');
angle += 30.0;
if (angle >70) angle = 0;
Prefs.setRealPreference('constrain/angle', angle);

You can tie this into a action, and keyboard shortcut from there. But then illustrator will forget this next time you load (yeah adobe consistently ignores the feature request of keyboard shortcuts for scripts).

how do i use the script?

Put it in a text file with a .jsx extension. Next put this file in your presets scripting folder. In may version is located in under the installation directory:


but varies a bit with version and os (refer to this). Now the script should be visible in file -> scripts -> yourfilename. You can now add it to an action with insert menu item. Then give the action a hokey.

Without doing a plugin and cursing myself with all extra overhead (yeah it would certainly be possible but then a 15 minutes interesting job becomes a 1 month chore and then you couldn't afford the solution). Unless somebody already made a plugin to satisfy your need.

  • This sounds very interesting, but how do I implement it?
    – itsmikem
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 12:33
  • 1
    @itsmikem see changes
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 14:05

You can enter any constrain values you like. Why not just enter 0, 30, 60 in the construction guide preferences? Or am I missing something?

  • It is behaving such that if I enter 30, I can constrain moving my objects from lower left to upper right, but it goes off track moving from upper left to lower right, and the same goes for 60. And, if I want to move straight vertically or horizontally, I have to switch the constraint angle to 0. So, I'm having to constantly change the preferences value.
    – itsmikem
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 12:31
  • Its a good solution if drawing guides is what you want.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 14:16

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