I want to draw such "snowflake" pic using 1/8 part of it.

Is there way to use Illustrator to draw such a snowflake in live mirror mode?

enter image description here

I thought that I can use clipping mask and Transform Effects for it. But when I use Transform Effects on clipping mask group, I found that illustrator doesn't ignore objects inside mask. And I had unexpected result.

In the end of gif (when I use crop from pathfinder panel), I demonstrate a result which I want to have in this situation.

  • If you use the mirror tool then you canplace the mirror plane wherever you want.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 15:10
  • 1
    I think it might help if you edit this question to trim it down to just the question that you want an answer to. As it stands it seems more like a rant about how you disagree with Adobe's implementation decisions, rather than a question about how to achieve a particular desired effect.
    – Westside
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 17:15
  • Sure enough, if Adobe built the Transform and Transform Each functions to ignore contents and respect only the clipping mask.... someone would complain that the contents were being ignored. You can't please everyone. You could always remove the clipping mask.....
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 17:30
  • I was looking for a similar functionality in Sketch app and came across this illustrator plugin; astutegraphics.com/software/mirrorme I'm not familiar with it so I don't want to give this as a full answer but this or similar plugins might help you out.
    – Summer
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 9:56

3 Answers 3


Use compound shape instead of clipping path. Then, apply three separate Transform effects: Reflect X, then Reflect Y, then rotate 90° – each with a copy added, of course. I've been able to get something that is editable and maintains the symmetry you're after. Move and edit the objects that are inside the compound shape (four ellipses in my example) to alter your shape.

Appearance panel

Layers panel
Outline view
Filled view

  • Ok, this is nice way. Thanks. But If I want using, fox example, minus front inside Compound shape is there way to make it? So if I select two path and click on Minus front in Pathfinder panel nothing happens. i.imgur.com/OsLhq9h.gif I found only one way for it: place two path inside Compound Shape, making compound path using pathfinder panel, return path into Cimpound Shape group Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 14:23
  • @artemfedorov you can hold alt down when you click in pathfinder and it make sthe pathfindig live. YOu can also do it by applying styles to groups.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 7:17

That is unfortunately just how Illustrator works with clipping masks and there's (as far as I know) no way to change that behaviour. The same problem exists with symbols; where the bounding box surrounds the entire contents, even if it is masked.

You can use a compound path instead.

If you do need to work with larger clipped artwork you can, as a workaround, place another Illustrator file which will correctly crop to the artboard.

So you set up your second Illustrator file something like this:

enter image description here

Place that Illustrator file in your original document (making sure to set the correct "Crop" when you place). You can then transform as you wanted:

enter image description here

enter image description here


(CS6 screenshots.. but it's the same set up in newer versions, just the dialog windows may look a bit different.)

New Layer....

In the Layers Panel, click the circle to the right of the layer name to select the Layer.

enter image description here

You'll know when you have the Layer selected by looking at the Appearance Panel.... It'll read "Layer" at the top.

enter image description here

Now choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform...

Enter these values:

  • Tick reflect X
  • set the 9-point-origin to middle-right
  • Insert 1 in copies

enter image description here

Click OK.

Now go back and choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform... again.

You'll get a warning about applying an Effect twice... click the "Add New Effect" option and this time enter slightly different options:

  • Tick Reflect Y
  • set the 9-point-origin to bottom-middle
  • Insert 1 in copies

enter image description here

The Appearance Panel should look similar to this:

enter image description here

Now draw.... anything you draw will be reflected horizontally to the right and then both left and right will be reflected vertically down.....

enter image description here

Reflection point art on the right and bottom of whatever you draw. So art will shift as you create more distant edges.

  • This doesn't seem to work for me. I followed your exact steps but the result appears on the bottom-right corner and not on the top-right and bottom-left Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 13:47
  • Sorry, you must have missed something then.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 18:36
  • I realised I was missing to enter 1 in the copies box Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 9:56

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.