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Anyone know how to align 2 shapes using two points or one of the shapes side/path in Illustrator? I know there has to be an easy way to rotate two shapes and make sure their points align perfectly without doing it manually. Any ideas?

As an example, if I have a triangle and I need a second triangle of the same size to align to the triangles left side. Is there a way to not have to try and manually rotate it to get the exact angle for the two sides to align perfectly?

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Below is a quick sample of what I am talking about. The shapes won't always be identical and may only consist of one equal path or side to match with.

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  1. turn on Smart Guides and Snap to Point

  2. assuming both shapes are grouped, click on shape 2 with the Black Arrow (V)

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  1. grab the Group Selection Tool (White Arrow with the Plus sign) and Click and Drag on Anchor A...

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  1. ...and drop it right on top of Anchor B (press Ctrl before releasing the mouse to help snapping)

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  1. grab the Rotate Tool (R), click on Anchor A to set the rotation point, then click and drag on Anchor C towards Anchor D...

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  1. ...and drop it right on top of it (press Ctrl before releasing the mouse to help snapping).

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  • You my friend are awesome! I don't ever play around with the actual rotate tool, but this is going to be a huge time saver for me. This is exactly what I was needing so thank you very much! – OneOddballSheep Nov 20 '14 at 14:42
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The easiest way to do this with an equal triangle is to use Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform

Draw one triangle, select it and choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform from the menu. Set the origin point to the top middle, set the # of copies to 1, and set the angle to 60° (to match the angle of the side).

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Click OK then simply choose Object > Expand Appearance to separate the effect into two triangles. And then recolor.

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You could also increase the # of copies to get more triangles...

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Note, this assumes the triangle is an Isosceles triangle (having at least 2 equal sides).

  • Thanks for the reply! Yes, i can do that with triangles but I was actually just using the triangles as an example for what I was describing. I would be using different shapes but with a common path/side. I will load an image of the actual project I am working on. Thank you! – OneOddballSheep Nov 19 '14 at 21:45
  • @OneOddballSheep honestly, with odd shapes, the best you can do is switch to Outline Mode, zoom in, and use smart guides where possible. There's no automated method I'm aware of to align odd shapes based on an off-angle side. – Scott Nov 19 '14 at 23:15
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Looking at your sample, my immediate reaction is that Illustrator is the wrong tool for the job. It (inexplicably, and in my opinion inexcusably) lacks the kind of snapping functionality you need. You'd be better to create these outlines in a CAD tool, which would make this kind of alignment easy.

Once you have your completed outline, save as a .dwg and bring that into Illustrator to add color, text, and whatever other work is needed to get it ready for printing.

  • I use CAD to do floor plans and never thought to use it for a general layout. I may just have to consider using it for future projects related to this one though and give it a try. Thank you! – OneOddballSheep Nov 20 '14 at 14:44
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Are you trying to make a pattern like a line of triangles with the same distance between each triangle? If so you can take the first triangle and convert it to a s brush and set the distance between each triable.

If you are trying to align 2 shapes side by side at the exact same x or y axis select the shapes and at the top of your screen there will be options to alingn the shapes. The one you might use if aligning ot the left would be horizontal align left. Not e you can also align points of the shape if you just want parts of the shape to line up. just select the point with the white selection arrow instead of the black arrow to do that.

  • Thanks for your reply! No, that's not what I am trying to accomplish. Let me see if I can upload an image to this or just link it somewhere. – OneOddballSheep Nov 19 '14 at 21:18

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