# Rotate + duplicate around an anchor point

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Is there a way for me to duplicate little red circles around the center of the larger, black circle? I attempted to demonstrate what I mean in the picture.

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Hi jaredpike,

Welcome to Affinity Forums :)

Currently there's no tools to distribute objects along a path, but there's a few workarounds.

You can use text (bullets) to "write/distribute" the circles along a path and then convert the text to shapes, or apply a dash line style to the circle stroke.

I've attached a sample file with both examples.

dots along a path.afdesign

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This only works for duplicating on a circular path & evenly distributing the duplicates requires a bit of simple math, but by using snapping, power duplicate, & moving the rotation center, I came up with this:

The basic idea was to create the first red circle snapped to the top center of the larger one & move its center point to the center of the large one. Then I duplicated it, rotated it 15° & just kept using Command+J to power duplicate around the perimeter.

There are a few oddities though: note that in the layers panel 4 of the red circles appear larger than the others. Also, I was not able to use the transform panel's rotation value to rotate the first duplicate. When I tried that, the rotation center shifted each time I power duplicated it. It wasn't easy using the rotation handle in the workspace to set the first rotation to exactly 15° but once I did that, power duplicate worked fine to keep the rotation centers from moving. Oddly, some of the duplicates are slightly different from exact 15° increments, but only by a small fraction of a degree. Perhaps that is due to a rounding error?

The AD attached document includes the history, so hopefully you can see exactly what I did.

Power duplicate using center point.afdesign

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Here's another way using power duplicate (video).

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MEB,

I think the problem I was having with the center point shifting when I used the transform panel rotation value was I neglected to click on the center square like your video shows. (I left it set to the default upper right corner.)

Your method for power duplicating copies of a grouped pair of objects around the group's center works fine for creating an even number of equally spaced rotated objects, but for odd numbers of objects the method I used is the only one I know of that does. That's where the math comes into it. Dividing 360° by the number of objects tells me how far I need to rotate the first duplicate, & from there power duplicate does the rest.

I'm still trying to figure out why the red circles in the layers panel of my example are not all the same size, but since they are in the work itself, I'm not going to worry about that.  :)

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This only works for duplicating on a circular path & evenly distributing the duplicates requires a bit of simple math, but by using snapping, power duplicate, & moving the rotation center, I came up with this:

Agree. Power Dupe is the way to go.

A couple notes:

1) BUG right? Numeric input doesn't respect moved Rotation Center?! Maybe more of an oversight than a bug, but it needs to be fixed. If you don't want to, or don't have the time, I'll log it.

2) FYI: holding Shift while manually rotating constrains the action to exact 15º increments. (doesn't really help the OP who needs 40°, but still good to know)

3) Feature request: There should be another modifier key that constrains action to whole numbers. I mean... fractional degree rotations are the outliers right? Perhaps the default should be whole numbers and the modifier can give you decimals (or it could be user defined).

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1) BUG right? Numeric input doesn't respect moved Rotation Center?! Maybe more of an oversight than a bug, but it needs to be fixed. If you don't want to, or don't have the time, I'll log it.

It does seem to be a bug or oversight, maybe because the show/move rotation center is a new (& very welcome!) feature. After watching MEB's video, I went back & tried clicking on the various squares in the transform panel & seeing if it made any difference in how numeric rotation worked with an offset center point but in no case did the object rotate around the relocated center point.  :(

I'm not sure, but I think this or a similar bug related to the transform panel already has been reported, or maybe it was a feature request. If you have the time to look & don't see anything like that, please go ahead & log it.

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Hi JimmyJack,

We are aware that the custom rotation point doesn't work with the input panel.

Okay. Thanks.

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We are aware that the custom rotation point doesn't work with the input panel.

Are there any plans to change that?

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Thanks for the help guys. RCR's method was how I envisioned doing it, but I ran into issues when I used text input for rotation.

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July 2017, still fighting with AF designer's rotation bugs.

Example; rotate 16 circles around a larger circle at 22.5 degrees and the last 3 or 4 are always off by 0.3 to 0.6 degrees! They must be manually corrected every time, but this function ought to be looked at please. Only basic rotations function accurately. The inability to pre-enter rotations on duplicate/copy is a pro tool that is sorely missing (amongst other precalculated move/move+copy functions)

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2 minutes ago, rsi.studio said:

July 2017, still fighting with AF designer's rotation bugs.

Example; rotate 16 circles around a larger circle at 22.5 degrees and the last 3 or 4 are always off by 0.3 to 0.6 degrees!

I cannot duplicate that problem using either Affinity Photo 1.5.2 or Affinity Designer 1.5.5  for Mac. The 1.6 betas include support for rotating about the rotation center in the Transform panel, which makes setting the rotation angle precisely very easy, but there are other ways to do this in the 1.5.x versions while we wait for the release of the finished 1.6 versions.

One I have been using recently involves placing the first small circle (or whatever) at the 12 o'clock position on the larger circle & then using the Pen tool in Line mode & snapping to draw a line from the center of the small circle to the center of the large one. I then group the small circle & the line, duplicate that group, & in the Transform panel select the bottom center anchor point & then enter the rotation angle in the "R:" field. (You can even use a math expression there for an arbitrary number of evenly spaced shapes around the larger circle, like by entering "360/n" where n is the number of shapes you want around the large circle.) Because the anchor point is at the bottom center of the group & coincides with the center of the large circle, the group's rotation point is precisely at the center of the large circle. From there, without doing anything else, I just power duplicate to add the remaining small circle groups.

In AD, at the beginning, I make the first small circle & the line into a symbol, which makes it very easy to delete the lines from the groups afterwards (or hide them) all at once. Since AP does not have symbols, instead as the last steps I select all the groups with a marquee drag, right click & choose "Ungroup all" from the popup menu, then marquee drag to select just the lines & delete them.

This may sound complicated & time consuming but it really is neither once you do it a few times to get a feel for how it works. Since I almost always do things like this in Designer, I have not (yet) tried to see if it could be done with a macro in Photo but time permitting I will give that a shot & report if that works.

Attached is a sort of 'proof of concept' AP file with 16 evenly spaced circles around a common center, the result I get after ungrouping & deleting the lines. I did not create a larger circle for this, instead picking an arbitrary center point by confining the first line to a vertical one drawn downward from the center of the first circle to a convenient 'eyeballed' distance for my center point.

22.5.afphoto

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Hi rsi.studio,
This is working correctly in the current retail version both using the method exemplified on the video above or using a line as an auxiliary if you want to duplicate the circle sixteen times (rather than 8). It was also improved for version1.6 (currently in Beta) allowing you to use the Transform panel in conjunction with the external rotation centre. If you are willing to give the Beta a try you can download it from the respective section here (pinned at the top).

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I did this in Photo

Placed two dots in the circle

Aligned all three. Align middle. Made sure the dots were dead centre in the line.

Grouped the two dots...

Duplicated the dots layer, setting the Transform Anchor to the middle.

Rotated the dots holding down the shift key to constrain the angle to 15 degrees. Moved it 30 degrees.

When I pressed Ctrl J it duplicated and rotated for me, Not sure why?

Does it work in Designer ?

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2 hours ago, toltec said:

When I pressed Ctrl J it duplicated and rotated for me, Not sure why?

It duplicates & rotates because you are using power duplicate, just like in the other methods mentioned here. Because you used the shift key to constrain the group's rotation to an exact multiple of 15°, you could (& may have?) done this by dragging the second group's rotation handle on the canvas. But if you need to space the shapes at some other angle (like 22.5° for 16 total shapes) there is no way to do that using the rotation handle on the canvas precisely enough to prevent placement errors from occurring. That is because without constraints, the actual angle you drag the handle to could be 22.491234567° & you would never know because the displayed angle would be rounded up to 22.5°.

Also maybe worth mentioning, the method in MEB's video works fine for an even number of shapes because it relies on rotating pairs of shapes around the center of the pair, but for an odd number of shapes it would require creating twice as many pairs as shapes & then deleting one shape in each pair. This would become increasingly tedious as the odd number of shapes increases. The method I mentioned using added lines & groups works for both even & odd numbers & does not become more tedious as the number of items increases.

Both of those methods work without introducing errors because you can enter exact numbers in the rotation field of the Transform panel, including ones that can not be entered in decimal form. For example, for 7 shapes the separation angle would be about 51.4285714286° so instead you can just enter 360/7 in the rotation field & get (to the limits of precision of the app) the exact angle required for precise, error free rotations.

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Very happy to hear that the rotation center issue has been resolved in 1.6 beta. It means accurate precalculated moves can be executed & so RC-R's suggestion for entering 360/12 & etc. being the easiest way to apply this function.

Today I rotated my grouped symbol with construction guides as per usual showing 22.5 degrees and again it was out by 0.3 degrees after duplicating, see diagrams attached, the image may be a little small to see the rotation figure but the 2nd png shows the manually corrected rotation at 0.3 degrees. *I managed to fix the issue by rotating using construction guide & then re-entering -22.5 in the rotation dialogue, hit enter & then continue power duplicate. This worked! In other words, the construction guide showing 22.5 is not snapping accurately to that figure even though the rotation field shows it to be so. Note, if I try to rotate to 22.4 & then enter 22.5, power duplicate will follow 0.1 degrees.

Conclusion, since the rotation dialogue has now been improved (in ver. 1.6) the only issue remaining is the construction guide tool accuracy.

image 1 showing the final disparity overlap with rotation dialogue at 22.5, set initially using the construction guides figures.

image 2 having gone around twice and manually rotated the top to vertical, the rotation shows 0.3 degrees

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How exactly did you create what you are calling your rotation guides?

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1 hour ago, R C-R said:

How exactly did you create what you are calling your rotation guides?

When you turn on the bottom 5 snapping options, all dynamic guides are activated. Affinity calls them dynamic guides, my term was construction guides so perhaps a little misleading. Anyhoo, unfortunately I can't take a screenshot & keep a dynamic guide active at the same time as they only operate while moving a snapping candidate (AD terminoligy). You don't need to check 'show snapping candidates' for this to work, thankfully as it's a bit annoying. A tut is on Vimeo

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I know how snapping works, but what does this have to do with rotation?

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4 hours ago, R C-R said:

I know how snapping works, but what does this have to do with rotation?

Snapping and dynamic guides co-operate within the same function set, in the snapping candidate video above you can see the labelled distances when moving an object, these are dynamic guides, or construction guides, turned on with snapping functions. These guides also include the degree of rotation while you rotate an object, hence dynamic (live) rotation guide (shows rotation to incremental 0.5 degrees). As I pointed out, when I rotated my object labelled at 22.5 degrees using this guide, it turned out to be 0.3 degrees innacurate over 16 moves but can vary up to 0.6 degrees in some previous drawings. There is a fix for my issue as mentioned by re-entering the rotation figure in the transform dialogue box after making an initial rotate, and anyway, the preferred method of entering the pre-calculated rotate has been seen to in ver. 1.6 so rotation point versus transform dialogue now working (or will be next update). I'm glad because I do a lot of things around circles

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As was previously discussed, the angular values shown on the canvas when you drag an object are not exact (they are rounded off to the nearest tenth of a degree) so you cannot rely on them when you need to get precise rotations. This is why several of us have mentioned various techniques using the Transform panel's field values when precision is required.

What has changed in the 1.6 versions is the ability to use the rotation center as an anchor point in the Transform panel instead of one of the nine anchor points shown in that panel. That allows an object to be rotated around any arbitrary center point the user sets, including off-canvas ones. But even in 1.6 versions you still cannot rely on the values shown on the canvas when precision is required.

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This really should be made into a simple feature like in Sketch's 'Rotate Copies'.

Really useful for logo designs etc.

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On 8/13/2017 at 2:45 AM, Moto said:

This really should be made into a simple feature like in Sketch's 'Rotate Copies'.

It's really that easy NOW in Affinity Designer too. Just toggle the crosshair icon on, and move the rotation center to the position, then power duplicate.
Enter 360/no.ofObjects to get the precise angle of rotation. In this example, it was 360/26, that is 13.8°

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