Let's say I have a square, rectangle, or circle. By default, the center point of will be positioned exactly in the middle. It is so because the binding box is same as the shape. It can be viewed by the Attributes Panel and clicking "Show Center".

I also have some shapes which are irregular. If I look at the center point, it is positioned in the middle but the middle is relative to the bounding box of that shape. How would I go about selecting and editing the center point in such a way that it sits exactly in the center, horizontal and vertical relative to the shape and not the bounding box.

In the below image, on the top there is a square, rectangle, and circle. The center point is exactly in the center.

Below that there is a chicken, cow, and fish. The center point are not in the middle.

enter image description here

3 Answers 3


The center point is always in the center of the object. It is not associated with the bounding box. You can turn off the Bounding box and retain the center point.

The object's (shape's) outer width and outer height are used to draw the center point as well as its bounding box. What you see is the exact center of your shapes. Moving it would place it off-center.

With symmetrical shapes, such as the rectangles and circle, it appears to be centered more. However it's just as centered in the irregular shapes of the chicken, cow, and fish. The difference is that every associated path in the irregular shapes is not an equal distance from the center of the shape as it is in the symmetrical shapes.

To illustrate more... see the attached image. It clearly shows the center point is in equidistant from either side. Green rectangle is merely a copy of the red rectangle.


However, all of this is irrelevant since you can not edit or alter the center point beyond showing and hiding it.

  • I don't get it. When you say the center is not associated with the bouding box, does it mean the center point is always relative to the bouding box and not the co-ordinates of the shape?
    – Jawad
    Mar 29, 2012 at 17:53
  • Both the center point and the bounding box are relative to the shape. It may appear as though the bounding box and center point are associated, but they are not. They both simply use the same reference for drawing. Simply put.. those center points ARE centered based on the outer paths of the shape.
    – Scott
    Mar 29, 2012 at 17:54
  • It would make sense to allow custom center points, as people would want to rotate objects around an "intuitive" center point, even if that is not the center of the bounding box. Are you sure, Scott?
    – David J.
    Mar 23, 2014 at 3:04
  • @DavidJames "Center" is centered. You can rotate around any reference point you wish by using the Rotate Tool. A "custom center point" is illogical. If it's custom it certainly will not be centered.
    – Scott
    Mar 23, 2014 at 3:52
  • @Scott There is more than one definition of "center" and many are logical and useful. For example: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_of_mass. The center of mass is not necessarily the center of the bounding box.
    – David J.
    Mar 23, 2014 at 4:58

Unlike Flash, Adobe Illustrator doesn't save anchor point data with a drawing object. The only exception is with symbols. A workaround that I use is to draw a circle around the object and making it transparent. Basically, the center of the object will not change, but it will achieve the desired effect. The example attached shows that: if you try to rotate the green star, it will not rotated using the visual center of the object. But if you try to rotate the yellow star, which is grouped with the circle, it will.

Hope it helps! Anchor points in Adobe Illustrator

Now to create the symbol: enter image description here

  • How is this any different from enabling the center point on the Attributes Panel? This actually seems less accurate.
    – Scott
    Mar 25, 2014 at 3:14
  • Hi @Scott. Actually, in illustrator CS5 the attributes panel does not enable the center point – it just hides and shows it. Center points are only a visual cue and cannot be used as an anchor point for rotating an object.
    – Marcello
    Mar 26, 2014 at 16:14
  • I never stated they were "anchor" points. By "enabling" it I mean show or hide it. I still see little benefit to adding a separate objects. The center point of a circle is no more an anchor point, than using the attributes panel to enable the built in center point for a shape. You would seem to be just adding a shape to add a shape - there's no viable reason for the extra shape.
    – Scott
    Mar 26, 2014 at 16:38
  • The reference point of a Symbol is not an anchor point. By definition, it's merely a reference point.
    – Scott
    Mar 26, 2014 at 16:43
  • But the original question is: How do I change a center point?, and that is what I am answering. And nope, it is not a reference point – it is a registration point, just like in Flash.
    – Marcello
    Mar 26, 2014 at 16:45

You didn't ask specifically about rotation, but that seems to be one big reason why people care about centers of objects, so here goes.

One option, as mentioned at http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/245/860440, is to group the desired object with a large square that defines the center in the desired location. Then rotations of that group will happen around the group center.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.