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How to Duplicate an Object in Adobe Illustrator


How to Duplicate an Object in Adobe Illustrator: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you an aspiring graphic designer or illustrator eager to unlock the secrets of Adobe Illustrator? Duplicating objects might sound like a simple task, but it’s an essential skill that can greatly enhance your workflow. Whether you’re looking to create intricate patterns or streamline your design process, learning how to duplicate objects in Adobe Illustrator is a fundamental step on your creative journey.

In this beginner-friendly guide, we’ll explore three straightforward methods for duplicating objects in Adobe Illustrator. We’ll also reveal a handy bonus tip that can save you time and effort. By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to duplicate objects with ease, unleashing your creative potential.

Key Takeaways:

  • Duplicating objects in Adobe Illustrator is a fundamental skill for graphic designers and illustrators.
  • Learning to duplicate objects can significantly improve your design workflow.
  • In this guide, we’ll cover three methods for duplicating objects and a bonus tip.
  • The methods discussed are suitable for beginners and experienced users alike.

3 Ways to Duplicate Objects in Adobe Illustrator

Method 1: Option/Alt key + drag

Let’s start with a simple and versatile method for duplicating objects in Adobe Illustrator. This method involves using keyboard shortcuts and is perfect for basic duplications.

Step 1: Select the object you want to duplicate.

Step 2: Hold down the Option key (or Alt key on Windows), click on the object, and drag it out to an empty space. When you release the mouse, you’ll create a copy of the object, effectively duplicating it.

If you want the duplicated objects to remain aligned horizontally, hold down both the Shift and Option (or Alt) keys while dragging the object to the left or right. This ensures precision and consistency in your designs.

Method 2: Duplicate the object layer

For situations where you need to duplicate all objects on a particular layer, Method 2 is the way to go. This method makes use of the Layers panel and is especially useful when working with complex designs containing multiple objects on the same layer.

Step 1: Open the Layers panel from the overhead menu by navigating to Window > Layers.

Step 2: Click on the object layer you wish to duplicate, and then drag it to the Create New Layer button (denoted by a plus sign).

An alternative option is to select Duplicate “layer name” from the hidden menu. For instance, if your layer is named “Layer 1” it will appear as Duplicate “Layer 1.” If you rename the layer, it will reflect as Duplicate “the layer name you changed.”

The duplicated layer will appear as a copy of the object layer. Importantly, if your original layer contains multiple objects, using this method will duplicate all objects on the layer. 

However, initially, you won’t see two identical objects on the artboard because the duplicate is placed directly on top of the original object. To reveal both duplicates, click and drag the duplicated object away from the original.

Method 3: Drag to another Illustrator document

In some instances, you may need to duplicate an object from one Illustrator document to another. Method 3 simplifies this process, allowing you to seamlessly transfer objects between different projects.

If you want to duplicate an object from one document to another, follow these steps:

Step 1: Select the object you wish to duplicate.

Step 2: Drag the selected object to the tab of the other Illustrator document where you want it duplicated.

Step 3: As you hover over the document tab, Illustrator will switch to the new document. Release the mouse button, and the object will appear in the new document.

This method is particularly helpful when you’re working on multiple related projects and need to share elements between them effortlessly.

Bonus Tip

How to duplicate an object multiple times using Command + D

Imagine you want to duplicate an object several times with precision, maintaining the same direction and spacing. The bonus tip comes in handy for such scenarios.

To duplicate an object multiple times using the Command key (or Ctrl key on Windows) and the D key, follow these simple steps:

1. Select the object you want to duplicate.

2. Press Command + D (or Ctrl + D on Windows).

This keyboard shortcut, known as “Step and Repeat,” repeats the last action you performed. So, if you initially dragged the object downward and to the right, the newly duplicated objects will follow the same direction and spacing.

It’s a quick and efficient way to replicate objects when precision and consistency are essential to your design.


In conclusion, duplicating objects in Adobe Illustrator is an essential skill that can significantly improve your design workflow. While there are multiple methods available, each with its own advantages, Method 1, using the Option/Alt key and drag, is often the simplest and quickest for basic duplications. However, if you’re working with multiple objects on the same layer, Method 2, duplicating the object layer, offers a more efficient solution.

Additionally, for transferring objects between documents, Method 3, dragging to another Illustrator document, proves invaluable. And don’t forget the bonus tip, which allows you to duplicate objects with precision using Command + D (or Ctrl + D on Windows).

Experiment with these methods and choose the one that best suits your specific design needs. As you become more proficient, you’ll find that mastering the art of duplicating objects is a vital step toward becoming a proficient Adobe Illustrator user.


Can I use these methods in Adobe Illustrator on Windows?

Yes, for Windows users, replace “Option” with “Alt” and “Command” with “Ctrl.”

Will duplicating an object also duplicate its attributes, like color and stroke?

Yes, duplicating an object will create an exact copy with all its attributes intact.

Is there a limit to how many times I can duplicate an object using Command + D?

There’s no specific limit. You can keep pressing Command + D (or Ctrl + D) to continue duplicating.

Can I duplicate objects between different versions of Adobe Illustrator?

Yes, the methods mentioned here work across different versions of Adobe Illustrator.

What’s the difference between duplicating an object and copying and pasting it?

Duplicating creates an exact copy of the object in place while copying and pasting allows you to place the duplicate elsewhere in the document.

Incorporating these methods into your Adobe Illustrator workflow will enhance your efficiency and creativity, allowing you to produce stunning designs with ease.


  • Derry Skinner

    Derry Skinner is a seasoned Adobe Illustrator virtuoso with a remarkable 14 years of experience. Derry's journey in the world of design has been marked by a commitment to excellence and innovation. Specializing in vector art and graphic design, Derry has a keen eye for detail and a talent for transforming ideas into captivating visuals. His extensive experience includes working on diverse projects, ranging from corporate branding to intricate illustrations. Derry Skinner is not just an expert in Adobe Illustrator; he is a trailblazer who combines experience with a passion for pushing the boundaries of visual design.