Offsetting a Problem of Scale

At some point in the continuous learning curve of Illustrator, nearly everyone comes across a particular problem when using the Scale tool. Draw an amorphous shape with the Pen tool and then select it with the Selection tool. Copy your shape (Edit > Copy), and paste it in front of itself – Command + F (Control + F on a PC). Now, with the pasted object still selected, double-click on the Scale tool and in the window that opens, check Preview and select the Non-Uniform button. Now try scaling the shape to a slightly smaller size in a way that the smaller top shape is the same distance from the bigger original shape all the way around. When you give up, hit Cancel.

Years ago, when I first tried to use the Scale tool in this way, it didn’t take me long to understand that I was trying to do the impossible. But there has to be some other method to accomplish what seems to be such a simple task. Actually, in Illustrator CS2, there are two. For the first method, go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Type a negative number to Offset the Path inward, and a positive number to offset it outward. Click OK to see the results. The same task can be accomplished as an effect by going to the Effect menu Path > Offset Path. A similar window opens, like with the other method, but with one huge advantage. You can preview the results. And of course, as an effect, you can change or eliminate the Offset at anytime in the Appearance palette.

Tip provided by Jeff Witchel, Certified Adobe® Training Provider.