The secret details of rotating groups in Sketch

4 min read
Joseph Angelo Todaro
  •  Aug 23, 2017
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Updated 8/23/2017: For those who prefer reading to watching, we’ve added a step-by-step guide with GIFs in addition to the embedded video. Enjoy!

On the surface, it may not seem like there’s much to rotating layers in Sketch. But dig a little deeper, and there are some handy tricks that are sure to change your approach when it comes to grouping and rotating.

For a mini Sketch tutorial on rotating layers, read on.

Similar to other design programs, selecting and rotating and individual layer spins it around the center axis. But what happens when you select more than one thing to rotate?

Despite the bounding box around the entire selection, each individual object still rotates around its own center axis. This can be useful sometimes, but not always what you’re looking to do.

I know what you’re thinking—that the solution is to group the layers and rotate them all. This seems intuitive, but it comes with a side effect: When you rotate a group, the rotation is applied non-destructively to the group itself. The layers inside are just along for the ride. This means that if you add another layer, it will take on the rotation of group.

In some cases, this is an excellent effect. Some shapes are much more difficult to edit once they’ve been rotated and tilted. Take this pen for example, the vector points at the tip need to be nudged a tad to lengthen and sharpen the nib. Nudging at an angle isn’t going to cut it if you’re trying to be accurate.

To get around this, drag the layer out of the group. It will go back to its original position, making it much easier to grab the vector points and nudge them straight down. Then drag the layer back in the group and it will pop right back into place.

When grouping is an easier way to rotate a few things, but you don’t want a group that carries these effects, ungroup the layers. Unlike dragging layers out of a group, ungrouping will apply the rotation to the individual layers.

Then you can group them right back up again if needed.

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