Yesterday I was working on a new article when suddenly my friend Zemechiel asked for my help, he was working on an new custom icon on Illustrator and there was a problem with a couple of anchor points, he simply wanted to displace them 0.5 pixels to the right but the program was being stubborn and only allowed him to move in integers. I checked all the options (Snap To Pixels, Snap To Grid, Show Grid) and everything was apparently OK, this required all my focus in order to beat this impasse.
Removing all snap to pixels options
This quick tutorial is not meant to show how to make pixel art but on the opposite, how to remove all the ‘snap to pixels’ options so you can have complete freedom while working in your designs. Let’s make a random file where we can evaluate all the different snapping options.
Opening a new file
The first two options regarding ‘snap to pixels’ will appear as soon as you create a new file. First we have the ‘preview mode’: This option defines whether you’ll see a ‘hard pixel’ canvas or an overprint version, because we’re looking to clear all pixel-related options my suggestion is to leave the ‘overprint’ option checked, though this doesn’t affect at all in the practice.
As for the second option, this one is actually relevant to fulfill our purpose, it is called ‘Align New Objects to Pixel Grid’ and you MUST leave it unchecked.
OK guys, so far we’re doing things well, now let’s take a look at the main options that almost every designer knows regarding snapping in Illustrator. First let’s make something like this at a zoom value of 6400 %:
This object will serve us as a model to understand how the different snapping properties affect an element in Illustrator.
Now I’m going to show you how the two snapping options can affect an element, let’s take a look at the following screenshot so you can find the location of these options.
Snap to Grid
Let’s experiment with the first option named Snap to Grid, this option aligns every object you trace to Illustrator’s grid (do not confuse it with ‘align to pixels’) activate it and then using the ‘direct selection’ tool, grab the two anchor points of the left side of our object.
Now hit the ‘right’ key of your keyboard to displace the anchor points, you will see that by default the anchor points will be aligned to the grid.
So this could be one of the reasons why my friend was having trouble, he was using the keyboard. What you need to do is go to Object > Transform > Move (shortcut Shift + Ctrl + M) and from the menu that will popup you can enter the amount of pixels you want to displace the anchor points.
And now you can displace the anchor points at shorter distances than 1 px, this will probably fix your query but if not then we can check the last alternative.
Snap to Point
What this option does is that every time you make a new vector object and you place it among 2 pixel boundaries of a grid line, it aligns to the nearest pixel of the grid. You can still move your objects in less than a pixel by accessing the ‘move’ option, but forget about moving it manually or through the keyboard.
And that’s it, thanks to my friend Zemechiel how asked me about this problem now you know how to remove all the snapping options from Illustrator, I hope this can be helpful for all of you and well, please leave us a comment if you have any doubts or just want to say hello :).
P.S: If you want to go deeper into Illustrator, you can check our new series where we’ll be covering all the basics starting with Illustrator strokes.
If you forgot to uncheck the ‘Align New Objects to Pixel Grid’ option at the beginning of this tutorial, you can always access to it by displaying the ‘Transform’ menu.
When you’re working on ‘pixel preview’, your objects will tend to look a little blurry. To correct this problem, go to Edit>Preferences>General and uncheck the ‘Anti-aliased Work’ option.