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Scaling Patterns, Strokes, and Effects in Illustrator

Sam Jones March 28, 2024 · 3 min read

When using Illustrator, resizing objects with certain Appearance attributes can be tricky. For example, when you resize an object with a Stroke applied, the default behaviour is that the Stroke Weight will remain the same rather than scaling in proportion to the object.
The same applies to Patterns and Effects.
Perhaps the most obvious solution to this problem is to expand the Appearance of your object (Edit > Expand Appearance) first. The only problem is that once you do this, you’ll no longer be able to edit any of the Strokes, Patterns, or Effects that you had previously applied to your object.
Fortunately, Illustrator has a few options tucked away that give you complete control over scaling without sacrificing the ability to edit the Appearance of your object.

Where To Find These Options

You can find these options by selecting Object > Transform > Scale. In the dialogue box you’ll see three options: Scale Strokes & Effects, Objects, and Patterns.
Alternatively, you can access these options via the Transform panel (Window > Transform) menu.
Let’s look at how each of these options work.

Scaling Strokes & Effects

Selecting the Strokes & Effects option allows you to scale an object whilst keeping applied Strokes & Effects in proportion.
Here’s an example of the same object with a Roughen effect applied:

Scaling Patterns

When working with Patterns, this option is a godsend. Not only does it allow you to scale Objects and Patterns simultaneously…
but you can also scale Patterns independently of the object they’re applied to.

Bonus Tip

As well as being able to scale Patterns, you can also rotate them by selecting Object > Transform > Rotate.
Much like the above, you have the option to either rotate the Object and Pattern simultaneously, or rotate the Pattern independently.

Scaling Patterns, Strokes, and Effects

Checking all three of these options allows you to scale your object whilst keeping all Patterns, Strokes, and Effects in proportion. This is perfect for scaling entire pieces of artwork in which you want to maintain editability.

Try It For Yourself

This may be a relatively small tip but being aware of these options can have a large impact on the way you work. Using a non-destructive technique such as this will allow you to maintain full control over certain elements of your artwork, which could save you huge amounts of time when it comes to making amendments. Give it a try next time you’re working on a project in Illustrator and see how it benefits your process.

Sam Jones is the owner of Sivioco, home of some of the bestselling design resources on the web. He also runs a blog where he shares free resources, training, and advice to help designers work better, faster, and smarter.

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Sam Jones

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