How to Center an Object in Illustrator CC

Learn how to center an object in Illustrator CC in this very simple tutorial, and use the align panel and these simple techniques to centrally align one object to the artboard, or multiple objects to the artboard, each other, or a key object.

Mastering the functions of the align tool is one of the core skills needed in Illustrator. Once you know how to align objects to the artboard, guides, or other objects, you can design with flawless precision at a fast pace.

Video Tutorial

In the 2-minute video tutorial above, I quickly go through all of the options in the align panel demonstrated below. Feel free to watch along if you prefer learning through video.


Step-by-Step Tutorial

Center Align to Artboard

For the purpose of this excise, I will demonstrate the alignment on a simple ellipse, which below I am dragging out onto the canvas.

Step 1 – Select your object with the ‘selection tool’.

Step 2 – Go to ‘window > align’ to bring up the ‘align’ panel.

Step 3 – Under ‘align to’ select ‘align to artboard’.

Step 4 – With your object selected, click ‘horizontal align center’ under ‘align options’.

Step 5 – Then select ‘vertical align center’ to fully align the object to the center of the artboard.

Center Align to Selection

For the purpose of this tutorial, I am making a duplicate of the ellipse so that we have two objects to align together. You can use this method on multiple objects, but for ease, I will stick with two.

Step 6 – With your objects on the canvas, select the ‘selection tool’ and click and drag over your desired objects to select them.

Step 7 – Return to your ‘align’ panel.

Step 8 – Under ‘align to’ select ‘align to selection’. This will now align the objects together, equally, as I will demonstrate.

Step 9 – With both objects selected, click ‘horizontal align center’. Notice how the objects move an equal distance, one from the left and one from the right, until they align together centrally.

Step 10 – Repeat with ‘vertical align center’, where both objects will now align to exactly the same spot, with the objects stacking one on top of the other.

Center Align to Key Object

Step 11 – For this type of center alignment, with all objects selected under the ‘align’ panel select ‘align to key object’ in the ‘align to’ dropdown menu.

Step 12 – By default, Illustrator will select a ‘key object’ for you, defined by a thick blue outline that will appear around the object.

Step 13 – Feel free to go ahead and click on the object you want to be the key object. You can change this object as many times as you like, but you will only stay in this ‘key object’ selection state until you click other tools or options.

Step 14 – With your key object selected, return to your ‘align’ panel and select ‘horizontal align center’. Notice below how the key object stays exactly where it is, and the other object(s) align to that object’s center point.

Step 15 – The same happens when you click ‘vertical align center’ – I pressed ‘cmd/ctrl z’ to undo the first alignment.

Align Multiple Objects to Artboard

Step 16 – If you want to align multiple objects to the artboard, first select all objects with the ‘selection tool’.

Step 17 – Go to your ‘align panel’ and select ‘align to artboard’ under the ‘align to’ options.

Step 18 – With your objects selected, ‘right click > group’. This will keep your objects in their current positions in relation to each other, and not align all objects to the dead center of the artboard in a stack.

Step 19 – Click ‘horizontal align center’ in the ‘align’ panel.

Step 20 – Lastly, click ‘vertical align center’ to position your group of objects exactly in the center of the artboard, while maintaining their original distances and arrangement in relation to each other.

Step 21 – If you like, once aligned, you can then ‘right click > ungroup’ the objects.


Once you get the hang of center alignment and the ‘align’ panel in Illustrator, you’ll notice considerable improvement in the accuracy of your designs and the speed of your workflow.

Naturally, these techniques also work with the other align options in the panel. Have fun with these options, and achieve the accuracy and precision you desire by letting the ‘align’ and ‘distribution’ tools figure out the positioning of everything for you.

2 thoughts on “How to Center an Object in Illustrator CC”

    • Thanks Lorlornyo, if you click ‘watch on YouTube’ under the embedded video in this article, that will take you to my channel.

      Reply

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