New to Illustrator (cc) and having some issues making the align tool work for me. I am trying to place all pieces 1.5mm apart for a lasercutting file but when I use the align tool it causes them to either overlap or spread much farther than 1.5mm apart. I am too busy to manually measure the distance between hundreds of objects and play puzzle master; so I am really hoping someone can explain why my objects overlap/spread instead of placing themselves 1.5mm apart like I specify.

Thankyou in advance for any help you can give me!


1 Answer 1


The align only aligns based on bounding box. Not actually the shape of the object. So aligning a few random shapes wont have the specified separation the boxes surrounding them do.

enter image description here

Image 1: Align with spacing aligns the bounding boxes spaced by distance. Boxes in cyan.

Astute Graphics has made a tool called ColliderScribe that can make this a bit faster though. Not optimal but at least much faster than doing in manually.

A side note: Laying out stuff for optimal layout is indeed a NP-hard problem its actually a variant of the traveling salesman problem. And it can not be solved efficiently if it could it would have a tremendous impact on many industries.

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