I'm creating a tile image in Illustrator with multiple shapes randomly placed inside. Each time that I move some shapes I have to check that the tile doesn't look odd, i.e. that it's evenly distributed and there are no clusters of shapes on one side. Currently what I do is to copy the image three times to check that the tiles in a 2x2 arrangement look ok, but I want some way to have three instances of the same tile instead, so that if I chance something in the original, all three copies would update its contents.


Currently my workflow and the tools I'm using are as follows:

I have a bunch of Photoshop files, that have an Illustrator vector graphic inside. Those files are tiles so that they will be placed side by side in arrangements of size NxM. The tiles are supposed to be seamless.

The embedded vector graphics opens in Illustrator so I can edit the shapes in the tile image. What I want is to have three more copies of the same group of objects right in there, in Illustrator, so I can preview the arrangement of the tiles, without having to save the smart object to update its contents in Photoshop, and then export the image so I can take a look at how the tile arrangement would look.

  • Yeah they are called symbols thsi question is a possible duplicate of Reusable objects that change when one is changed in Illustrator
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 18:19
  • @joojaa I'm familiar with the workflow described in that question. I updated mine with more details. Thanks.
    – rraallvv
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 18:35
  • @rraalvv you can not have live inter process updating. You can do it with symbols inside illustrator but not across the applications and the only inter process communication you can have is trough disk. Either its a duplicate or its not possible.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 18:40
  • Spoke a bit prematurely its possible to use the transform effect for this
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 18:47
  • @joojaa Yes, I think that would do. Does it work with groups of objects? I'd be glad to accept your suggestion as an answer though.
    – rraallvv
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 18:51

1 Answer 1


You can use the transform effect on a layer (by selecting the round dot next to layer name). If you have with duplicate options on it will create a nice pattern. Then apply same effect again to transform that again in second direction, altough i believe that in CC you may have 2 directions in one go,

enter image description here

Image 1: Transform dialog

The pattern thus created updates once you release the mouse. You can draw new things in the layer and it will get into same pattern. Protip: nudging with mouse works quite well in this case.

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