Selecting and Arranging Objects

Group and Expand Objects

Group or Ungroup Objects

Grouping objects lets you combine them into a single piece of design. The created group can be moved, rotated and resized as you could do with a single object. Some other manipulations like adding Fill and Stroke or applying distortion are also possible. This may be useful if your whole design or its part is created out of several primitive objects, and you don't want it to fall apart when you move or rotate it. For example, you can create a keyboard as a number of keys and the body. Then you group them together to have the keyboard as a single unit.

The item in the Layers panel that represents a group is named Group by default. You can tap on the V-shaped icon near the group name to access the grouped objects.

A group in the Layers panel

A group can include another group and so on. In this case, we say that groups are nested.

To group objects, select them. Then choose Group in the main menu.

To ungroup, select the group and choose Ungroup in the main menu.

It is possible to select an individual object in a group on the canvas without ungrouping it. To do that, use the Selection tool.

The Group and Ungroup commands can also be found in the Path panel.

There are two other types of groups. Compound groups are explained in one of the following sections. Clipping groups are related to the clipping masks which are described in the Using a Clipping Mask section.

Using the Layers Panel for Grouping and Ungrouping

In order to ungroup objects, select one or several of them in the Layers panel. Then drag the selected objects outside the group. Objects moved in this way outside the group will become ungrouped. Once a group is empty it disappears. This method also works with compound and clipping groups. The latter though have a small difference. If you move all but one object outside a clipping group, the last object will be moved outside automatically and the clipping group will disappear.

To group objects, drag the name of one object in the Layers panel and drop it onto a second one. In this way, you can create a clipping group. The second object will become a clipping mask for the object that you have dropped.

In order to add a new object to an existing group of any type, drag the object into the group in the Layers panel.

Compound Group

By applying one of the Combine commands (e.g., Union) to multiple objects, you can create a compound group. Like groups discussed earlier, a compound group serves as a container that includes the original paths. This means that you are still capable of modifying these paths and therefore updating the result. For example, we can create a hole in a shape using the Subtract operation. Then the original objects will appear inside a compound group, which can be operated mostly like a regular object. But, at the same time, you can reach the original shapes using the Isolation mode or the Layers panel, and change the location or size of the object's body or whole.

Original Shapes
The original shapes
Compound Group
Compound Group created after applying Subtract to shapes

Expand Objects

The Expand button, located in the Path panel, turns an object into a number of typically more primitive objects. Those objects together look exactly like the original one. This kind of "disassembling" of an object lets you use tools that can work only with the entire object but cannot work with its parts.

The following image shows an arrow with a stroke and gradient fill expanded into two objects: an arrow with gradient and the arrow outline. All created objects were manually moved apart for the illustration.

An arrow was expanded into the fill and stroke

The result of expanding is a group of objects. After expanding in the example above, the outline and gradient are grouped. This is the most common case.

The Expand feature has many different use cases. They often rely on the fact that vector objects are expanded into paths that you could access independently. This enables object editing that is not possible in other ways. For example, the Rounded Rectangle tool creates a parametric object. The shapes of its corners are defined by respective settings. But these settings limit your capabilities to adjust the object's shape. Once you have reached that limit, you can expand a rounded rectangle and edit it as a path using the Selection or other tools.

Another case is text. Once it is expanded, you can make letters look differently from the original font. For instance, rotate individual letters, turn the "O" letters into smiley faces and so on.

There is no way to switch back and forth between the expanded object's state and the original one. That can be done using the Undo command by canceling all the editing you did after expanding. Before expanding, it is useful to create a duplicate of your original object or text just in case you need it later.

In certain cases, you have to apply Expand more than once to actually expand an object. This is linked with the corner rounding feature. After adjusting a corner radius, expanding at the first time will apply a new radius. At the second time, the object will be expanded.