Illustrator Beginner’s Series 4: Symmetrical Objects

By Cory • Jan 28th, 2009 • Category: Tutorials & Tips

This is the fourth tutroial in the Illustrator Beginner’s series. We’ve already covered placing sketches, using the Pen tool and tracing sketches with the Pen tool. This lesson is about making symmetrical vector files. The best way to make sure your file is symmetrical is to draw half of it and flip it.

In the last tutorial, I traced over my placed sketch with the Pen Tool. Since the stem isn’t symmetrical, I’ll draw that later.

Next, I want to use the Reflect Tool. It usually hides under the Rotate Tool, so click and hold the Rotate Tool to see it.

With your leaf half selected, double click on the Reflect Tool. A dialogue box will pop up. Set the Axis to Vertical and click copy.

This will make a copy of your leaf facing the opposite way.

Next, you’ll want to make sure your Smart Guides are on. Go to View > Smart Guides or use the keyboard shortcut Command/Control U. If you’d like to know more about Smart Guides you can see a brief tutorial about it here.

With your Smart Guides on, you can roll over your lines and they light up and say things like path or anchor. Now, you’ll need to line up the two edges of your leaf halves. Roll over straight edge of one of your leaf halves. When it says path, click on the line and drag it towards the other half’s straight edge. You’ll want to hold down Shift while dragging the half. Holding down Shift constrains your object to moving on only one axis. In this case, you want your object to move right and left, but not up and down. When the leaf half line that you’re dragging hits the other leaf half’s line, the line will light up and it will say intersect. That means they are lined up and you can stop dragging.

If for some reason your two halves aren’t top aligned, you can use the Align palette to align them at the top. Open the Align palette by going to Window > Align.

Now that your leaf halves are lined up, you’ll need to join them.

You can use the Pathfinder palette to join them. If you don’t have your pathfinder palette open, go to Window > Pathfinder. Select both halves using the Selection tool in the Toolbar. To select a second object, hold down Shift and click on the second object.
As with any time your working in Illustrator, if you make a mistake use the Undo. Go to Edit > Undo or Command/Control Z.

Since your leaf shape is complete, we’ll move onto the eyes in the next tutorial.

This post was written on Content copyright 2009 Cory Thoman.