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Measure and plot dimensions

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Measure and plot linear, angular, and radial dimensions in your artwork with ease.

The Dimension tool lets you easily measure and plot dimensions such as distance, angle, and radius within your artwork. Furthermore, you have the flexibility to customize the appearance, unit, scale, etc., of the dimensions.

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Measure and plot dimensions in a few simple steps.

Get familiar with the Dimension tool, dimension object, and tool settings

Dimension tool

You can readily access the Dimension   tool from the toolbar. If you can't find it, select Edit toolbar   at the bottom of the toolbar, and drag the tool from the Modify section onto the toolbar. When you access the Dimension tool, a taskbar opens up. The taskbar lets you easily switch between different tool types: Linear Dimension  , Angular Dimension  , and Radial Dimension  . These tool types let you plot linear, angular, and radial dimension types, respectively. Before plotting a specific dimension type, ensure that you've selected the correct tool type. The taskbar also contains the tool settings.

Dimension object

When you plot a dimension, a dimension object is what you get. A dimension object contains a dimension line, extension line, and dimension text.

Parts of a dimension object
Know the parts of a dimension object and then adjust the settings.

A. Extension line B. Offset of dimension text C. Dimension text D. Dimension line E. Extension of extension line F. Offset of extension line 

Tool settings

Plotted dimensions on the canvas along with the Dimension Tool Options dialog box
Use Dimension Tool Options to configure settings for the dimension objects you'll plot.

Tool settings or Dimension Tool Options lets you set up preferences such as the unit of measurement, scale, precision, and appearance for your dimension objects. You can open the settings in two ways — by double-clicking the tool icon in the toolbar or by selecting   in the Dimension tool taskbar.

When you change the tool settings, you're setting up the preferences for all the dimension objects you'll plot in the future, not for those you already plotted. Here are the things you can specify before you begin plotting your dimensions:

  • Units & Scale: Choose between different measurement units and set precision up to three decimal points. You can choose one of the preset scales or create a custom scale by specifying the ratio. You can create up to 10 custom scales. If you don't want your dimension text to contain units, you can opt to hide it.
  • Dimension Lines: Specify line weight and type, arrow style, scale, and color.
  • Extension Lines: Specify line weight and type, offset, extension, and color.
  • Dimension Text: Specify font family, style, size, offset, position, and color.

To restore the original settings, select Reset.

Plot linear dimensions

The Linear Dimension   tool type lets you plot the length of a line and the distance between any two points.

Linear dimensions that you plot are either aligned, vertical, or horizontal dimensions.

Aligned dimension

It's the direct distance between two points.

Vertical dimension

It's the vertical distance between two points.

Horizontal dimension

It's the horizontal distance between two points.

Plot linear dimensions of basic shapes

You can easily plot the linear dimensions of basic shapes such as rectangles, polygons, line segments, and stars. Let's take a hexagon as an example:

Plot the aligned, vertical, and horizontal dimensions of basic shapes such as a hexagon.

  1. Select Dimension   tool from the toolbar.

  2. Select Linear Dimension   from the taskbar that appears.

  3. Hover over a side of the hexagon until a pink line guide appears, and then plot the dimensions:

    • Aligned dimension: Drag, keeping the line guide parallel to the side, and then release.
    • Vertical dimension: Drag, keeping the line guide parallel to the side, change direction so the line guide is vertical, and then release.
    • Horizontal dimension: Drag, keeping the line guide parallel to the side, change direction so the line guide is horizontal, and then release.
Note:

If you want to change the settings of a dimension object you already plotted, select it and make changes in the Properties panel.

Plot linear dimensions between any two points

Horizontal dimension plotted between points on two hexagons.
Plot the aligned, vertical, and horizontal dimensions between any two points.

  1. Select the Dimension   tool from the toolbar.

  2. Select Linear Dimension   from the taskbar that appears.

  3. Click the first point, and then click the second point. You can then plot the following dimensions:

    • Aligned dimension: Click again.
    • Vertical dimension: Move the mouse horizontally, and then click.
    • Horizontal dimension: Move the mouse vertically, and then click.

Plot linear dimensions of an object with a stroke

If a path segment has a stroke applied to it, you can measure its linear dimension accurately by snapping onto its preview bounds. To enable preview bounds, go to IllustratorPreferences > General > Use Preview Bounds (macOS) or  EditPreferences > General > Use Preview Bounds (Windows).

Plot angular dimensions

The Angular Dimension   tool type lets you easily plot a shape's angles or angles between any two intersecting lines.

Plot angles of basic shapes

Plot the interior and exterior angles of basic shapes such as a triangle.

  1. Select the Dimension   tool from the toolbar.

  2. Select Angular Dimension   from the taskbar that appears.

  3. Hover over the vertex of the angle you want to plot until a pink angular guide appears. Then, plot the interior and exterior angles:

    • Interior angle: Drag inward from the vertex, and then release.
    • Exterior angle: Drag outward from the vertex, and then release.

Plot angles of intersecting lines

Two intersecting lines with an angle plotted between them.
Plot the interior and exterior angles of any two intersecting lines.

  1. Select the Dimension tool   from the toolbar.

  2. Select Angular Dimension   from the taskbar that appears.

  3. Click a point on the first line, and then click a point on the second line.

  4. Move the mouse in either direction and then click the canvas to plot interior or exterior angles.

Plot radial dimensions

The Radial Dimension tool type lets you easily plot the radius and diameter of circles and perfect arcs (arcs that are part of a circle).

Plot the radii and diameters of circles and perfect arcs.

  1. Select the Dimension   tool from the toolbar.

  2. Select Radial Dimension   from the taskbar that appears.

  3. Hover over the circumference of the circle or arc until a pink radial guide appears. Then, plot the radial dimensions:

    • Radius: Drag outward, and then release.
    • Diameter: Drag inward, and then release.

Modify properties of the existing dimensions

While you can use the tool settings to define the properties of the future dimensions that you'll plot, you can change the properties of existing dimensions only from the Properties panel. For this, you just have to select the dimension objects and go to the Properties panel. You can then apply these new properties to the dimension objects that you've selected or apply them to all the existing dimension objects by selecting Apply to all. Additionally, you can select Set as default to change the settings for all the existing and future dimensions.

Furthermore, if you transform the objects, the associated dimensions get updated automatically. For example, if you increase the width of a rectangle, the dimension object that measures the width will update automatically to reflect the new measurement.

Hide the dimension objects

All the dimension objects are added in a separate Dimensions layer in the Layers panel. You can toggle off the visibility of the Dimensions layer to hide the dimension objects from your artwork. You can’t move items from the Dimensions layer to other layers and vice-versa.

Points to remember

  • Use the Dimension tool to reposition dimension objects. If you choose the Selection tool to reposition them, they expand as regular objects.
  • When you distort an object, its associated dimensions don't adjust automatically.
  • You can’t plot the running length of a curved path yet.

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