Reflect and Join for Symmetry in Illustrator

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Reflect and Join for Symmetry in Illustrator

Using reflect and join in Illustrator can be a great way to create symetrical artwork, so in this post we are going to take a look at how you can do this.

In this instance we are going to make a clock and I am going to start off by making a nice symmetrical hand from the clock face. Below I have drawn half the hand using the Pen tool in Illustrator, this can be fine tuned using the anchors and handles to look exactly how you want it to.  

Half clock hand shape

Half clock hand shape

With half of the hand created I now want to make a mirrored or symetrical copy of this, so with this object selected, I can go to the toolbar and find the Reflect tool there. The icon below shows you how this looks.

reflect in illustrator

The first thing people tend to do is click and drag the object with this tool, but I don't want you to do that, even though it seems like the right thing to do. If you do you will end up with half a clock going all over the place and it will become a mess.  We want to be more accurate when it comes to controlling this, so we are going to control the point of reflection on the page where we want the object to reflect across.

In real world terms you could think of this as deciding where to place the actual mirror that you want to see the reflection in.

To do this, hold down the Alt key and click in the place that you want to reflect across. Illustrator will then give you the reflect option box as show below and you can experiment with any other angle reflection, horizontal or vertical. If you switch on the Preview button you can see what you're going to get. When you're happy with what you want, click Copy (not OK).  

 

Using Reflect Tool

Having clicked coppy we now have 2 parts of our clock hand and we want to then join them together to make the single clock hand. Select the top 2 points using the Direct Selection Tool. If you were to go directly to Object > Path > Join it would give you a straight line between those 2 points. Obviously not what we want for a nice sharp clock hand. Instead, go to Object > Path > Average. This will move the 2 points so they are on top of each other.  

Using Symettry Tool

 

reflect and symettry in illustrator

Once you've moved the 2 points on top of each others, you can then use Object > Path > Join. Repeat this on the bottom part of the clock hand as well, selecting the two bottom points and joining them as explained above.

Reflect and Symettry Tools

Again this should connect them together as shown below

Reflect and Symettry Tools

Remember to use the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) and not the Selection tool (black arrow) for both of these.

You should now have a symetrical hand ready to go on your clock face. 

This technique can be applied any time you wish to create a symetrical object, and is far quicker than trying to draw precise symetrical objects by for example measuring all the positions and reproducing the mirrored version by hand.