In this series, I’m going through how to use all the tools in the Transform panel. If you missed Lesson 1 on the Align tab, you can find it here. Here in Lesson 2, we’ll go over the 2nd tab which is Scale. This is where you can choose a precise size for your design or make it smaller or larger by a set percentage. No more guessing or trying to hit it just right with those corner boxes.
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Using the Scale section for size
The top section of the panel is for Scale. Use this to increase or decrease the size of your design by a set percentage. I love it because I don’t have to do the math. LOL! For example, if I have a design that’s 6.72″ x 10.83″ and I want to make it precisely half the size, I don’t have to calculate what that is. I can just select 50% and it goes to the right size.
As with most of the panels, there are several options for choosing the percentage:
- Click on one of the pre-selected percentages. The shape changes automatically. You can continue clicking the percentage as many times as you like.
- Use the slider or arrow keys. The shape does not change until you click Apply. Again, you can continue clicking Apply to do it repeatedly.
- Backspace out the current number and put in your own. The shape changes either when you hit the ENTER key on your computer keyboard or click Apply. You can keep hitting Apply to keep going, or keep hitting the ENTER key. However, if you click Apply after you click ENTER, then you can only keep going with Apply.
When scaling by a percentage is helpful
I find this particularly useful when I’m–
- …doing etching on my Curio. To get a good, full coverage etch, I have learned (from other awesome teachers) to make the design 200% the size, adjust my etching, then shrink it back to the original by doing 50%. That takes all the guesswork out of it.
- …working on a really small design and I can’t zoom in any tighter. I make it larger by a set percentage, do my editing, then take it back down.
- …tracing a low quality image. Those are usually really small, and the trace doesn’t give me a precise enough design. If I want to keep the design at a specific size for any reason, I make it bigger by a set percentage, do the trace, then decrease it to the original size again.
- …working with several pieces of a project that don’t all fit on the page. I can change the size of just one piece at a time, edit it as needed, then take it back down to the original size. This makes sure that all the pieces still fit together properly.
- …working on designs much larger than the usable cutting area. In some versions of the software, the software adds an excessive number of points when using the Modify tools. To workaround this, I make it smaller by a percentage, use something like Divide or Subtract, then take it back to the size I need it. If I were to just try to look at the dimensions as a reference and I used something liek Subtract, I couldn’t get it back to the proper size because some of the design is gone.
Using the Specify Dimensions section for size
The second section in this Scale tab is Specify Dimensions. This is where you can set the precise height and/or of a shape. You can do that by typing in the numbers, moving the slider, or clicking the up and down arrows. They work the same as described in the previous section.
One thing you want to watch for particularly is the little icon that looks like a lock. That’s for the aspect ratio, which tells the software whether you want to change the height and width proportionally (together by the same percentage) or independently. Click on that to toggle it between open for changing the dimensions independently (unlock aspect ratio), or closed to change them together (lock aspect ratio).
Most often, I set specific dimensions in the Quick Access Toolbar. But there’s one time that doing it here in the panel is especially helpful — with text boxes. You’ll notice that you don’t see dimensions for a text box in the QAT.
You DO see them in the Specify Dimensions section of the Transform panel’s Scale tab. That means you can set them only in the panel. HOWEVER — the size of the text box does NOT equal the size of the word. To learn more about why that is and how to figure out the actual size the words will cut, see this post.
Other ways to set the size
Just so you know, there are a few other ways to change the size of an object.
- To resize it quickly where it doesn’t need to be super-precise, just use the white squares around the bounding box. Use the corner ones to resize proportionally, or the ones on the sides to change just one.
- You can set the precise dimensions in the Quick Access Toolbar. Hover over the Scale icon (the one that looks like the one at the top of the tab in the panel) to see the default scale percentages. However, there is not the option there to resize by a specific percentage. And you don’t have the slider and arrow options — just the spot to type in the numbers.
That’s all you need to know for the Scale tab. In our next lesson, we’ll talk about the Rotate tab. I’ll teach you how to rotate by or to specific amounts. Don’t miss it!