Given a flat object in Illustrator, how can I scale it along the X or Y axis so that it stretches in an exponential fashion? That means that the center barely is stretched, but the outer extents stretch much more? I know there are some warp effects, but those seem to affect both axes.

  • Interesting challenge! I got something that works using envelope distort with a mesh (a little bit like this, but ignore the stuff about blends, horizontal only e.g. a 1x6 grid, and scaling the grid lines outwards), and then scaling everything except the inner segment, then everything except the inner two, etc, so the grid lines are placed exponentially. But I can't get the maths quite right. How much wider should the final area be? E.g. if you start with a square, what would you want the final aspect ratio to be? Apr 20, 2014 at 23:03
  • Ideally you should be able to set the distance stretched and the degree of exponential stretching.
    – Keavon
    Apr 20, 2014 at 23:07
  • Did you look at scripting? How complex is the document? Can you share the document?
    – allcaps
    Apr 22, 2014 at 14:21
  • May be solution in that. See http://www.adobe.com/devnet/illustrator/scripting.html for docs. Jul 25, 2014 at 10:14
  • I know of no internal method which would work as you describe. Even 9-point slice scaling does the opposite of what you are seeking.
    – Scott
    Aug 18, 2014 at 20:57

2 Answers 2


Scaling the object using guides:

I made this template which contains the exponential/logarithmic lines.

Create a new letter size Document in Illustrator and Place the template.

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Because in this case I'm going to use the exponential lines, we are going to lock it and hide the logarithmic lines.

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Import your flat object into Illustrator.

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Select your object and go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Mesh.

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Depending on the orientation of the scaling, insert 13 and 1 respectively.

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Now, that you applied the Envelope Distort to the object, Align each row/column of anchors with the template.

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  • 1
    The template link is broken, unfortunately
    – furins
    Jul 1, 2017 at 15:43
  • Please update your template download link, or preferably host it somewhere more permanent!
    – Keavon
    Dec 6, 2017 at 10:26

You may have some luck playing around with the transform effect tool inside the appearance panel.

  1. make your shape
  2. select the shape
  3. open the "Appearance" panel
  4. make sure "contents" at the top of the panel is selected
  5. click the fx button at the bottom of the panel
  6. this will bring up illustrator effects contextual menu > click Distort & Transform >click transform...
  7. from here you can play around with the move and scale tool to affect those properties.
  8. You may want to adjust the copies box, this will give you exponential scaling abilities.
  9. be sure to tick the preview button
  10. once done, you can use the pathfinder tool to combine the shape.

    Hope this gives some insight into what you are trying to accomplish.

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