Resizing, repositioning, rotating, and flipping slide objects in Captivate

Posted by Greten on 29 Apr 2019 under Tools

In Adobe Captivate, you can put several visual elements on a slide: shapes, images, buttons, text captions, videos, among others. To create an effective elearning module, you need to change the size, position, and orientation of some of these objects.

The introduction to Captivate in this blog refers to these objects as "visual and interactive elements" to distinguish them from those under the Objects drop-down menu. However, since that phrase is too long, this post will refer to them as "slide object" or just "object".

The PROPERTIES tab of Adobe Captivate. On the right of the tab header is the inactive TIMING tab. Show below are the features and functions under the PROPERTIES tab such as Style, Options, Lock Size and Position, Constrain proportions, etc. The screen captures shown here uses Adobe Captivate 2019. The way the resizing, repositioning, rotating, and flipping of objects work here is described as how they work in Captivate 2019. However, the way these functions work is very similar to Captivate 2017.

Options tab

The Options tab allows you to configure the position and size of a slide object. You can access it under PROPERTIES.

You can see the PROPERTIES interface, by default, on the right side of the window. You can reposition it depending on how you work. If you cannot see it, click the Properties burger menu near the upper-right corner.

If you cannot see the burger menu, it means that the custom workspace is enabled. You can open the PROPERTIES tab by checking Windows » Properties or by pressing Shift, Control, and D together (Ctrl+Shift+D). To make the PROPERTIES interface visible permanently, save a new workspace in Windows » Workspace » New Workspace.

The Options tab provides you information about a slide object and some controls to reposition it. Some information and controls are not available to some slide objects.

  • The X and Y fields show the horizontal and vertical positions of the shape
  • The W and H fields show the width and height of the shape.
  • The Angle field shows the angle at which the object is rotated from its default position, with the default being 0 degrees.

There are also other controls that you can find in the Options tab such as the Rotate Right and Rotate Left, Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical, and the checkboxes Constrain proportions and Lock Size and Position; the last one will be discussed in another post while the rest are discussed below.

Resizing a slide object

You can resize slide objects using any of the following.

Using the resize handles

Click the slide object. A rectangular dashed line border, called bounding box, will appear around it, with the white resize handles on the corners and sides. Drag a handle on left or right to change the width alone, on top or bottom to change the height alone, or on a corner to change the width and height at the same time.

To keep the proportion of width and height while resizing, hold the shift key and drag one of the corner handles.

Screen capture showing the different ways of resizing objects in Captivate. 1. The eight white resize handles at the sides and corners of the dashed rectangle enclosing the shape. 2. The Options tab showing the W and H values.

As you drag a corner handle, notice in the Options tab that the W and H values are changing automatically to reflect the width and height.

Using the W and H fields

The W and H fields are not just to show the number of pixels of the width and height respectively; you can also click them and edit their values. After you press Enter or click elsewhere in Captivate, the slide object will automatically resize to reflect the width and height you entered.

Since the width and height are in pixels, you can only enter positive integers.

To keep the proportions of the width and height, check the Constrain proportions checkbox. For example, if you edit W to double its current value, H will also double. The Constraint proportions check box does not affect the resize handles.

Reposition a slide object

You can reposition slide objects using any of the following.

Drag the object

Click the slide object once somewhere in its interior and hold the mouse button. Then, drag it where you want to position it. Do not double click; in some objects, a double click does something else such as enabling text edit.

If the Options tab is open as you drag the slide object, you will see that the X and Y values are changing to reflect the horizontal and vertical positions of the object respectively.

Using the X and Y fields

The X and Y values are the horizontal and vertical distances between the upper-right corner of the slide object (or the bounding box for slide objects that are not square or rectangle) and the upper-right corner of the slide. Positive values mean below and to the right of the upper-right corner of the slide. Negative values imply that some parts of the slide object are outside the slide. If the value of X and Y are zeroes, the slide object is at the upper-right corner of the slide, just touching its top and left edges.

The X and Y values of the position of an object refers to how far is the upper left corner of the invisible rectangle that encloses it from the upper left corner of the slide. In the screen capture, the pentagon can just fit to a rectagle that is 154 pixels to the left, and 105 pixels below the upper left corner of the slide. The Options tab shows its X attributr as 154 and its Y attribute as 105.

You can click the X and Y values in the Options tab and edit them. Then, the position of the object will change to reflect the new X and Y values after you press the Enter key or click somewhere else in Captivate. You can enter only integers, including negative numbers, as their values.

Rotate a slide object

When you put a slide object on the slide for the first time, its default angle is set to zero, which you can see in the Angle field in the Options tab. You can change the orientation of the object using any of the following.

Use the rotate handle

When you click a slide object, aside from seeing the bounding box and resize handles, you will also see the rotate handle. It is a yellow dot surrounded by two curved arrows located just outside the bounding box. Click this handle, hold the mouse button down, and move the mouse around. The object will rotate whenever you move the mouse such that it is closest the mouse pointer. Then, let go of the mouse button once you find the right angle.

This screen capture shows the different ways you can rotate slide objects in Captivate. A yellow circle surrounded by two blue curved arrows just above the dashed rectangle enclosing the shape. In the Options are the rotating slider (a circle with line), Angle field, and the rotate left and right buttons.

The mouse pointer need not remain in contact with the rotate handle, as long as you hold the mouse button down, you can rotate the object. If you move the mouse pointer away from the object as you rotate it, the rotation becomes slower, and you can make the tilt more exact to your liking. Move the mouse pointer closer to the object while you are rotating it, it rotates faster.

Use the angle controls in Options tab

In the Options tab, you can find two Angle controls, a field and a rotating slider. You can click the Angle field and change its value, which can range from -360 degrees to 360 degrees. When you press Enter or click elsewhere in Captivate, the slide object rotates to reflect the new angle. A positive angle is clockwise rotation, and a negative angle is counterclockwise rotation.

The rotating slider is a bit tricky. When you drag it to rotate clockwise, the object rotates counterclockwise and vice versa.

Another set of angle controls available in the Options tab are the Rotate Right and Rotate Left buttons (labeled as 90° clockwise and 90° counterclockwise respectively in the illustration above). The Rotate Right button rotates the object 90 degrees clockwise while the Rotate Left button rotates the object 90 degrees counterclockwise. They can rotate objects only in an increment of 90 degrees. Oddly, the Rotate Right button is on the left, and the Rotate Left button is on the right.

Flipping a slide object

Flipping is inverting a slide object into its mirror image. You can flip the object upside down, or flip it sideways: right becomes left and left becomes right.

Using the Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical buttons

To flip a slide object, select it. Then, on the Options tab, click Flip Horizontal to flip the object sideways or click Flip Vertical flip the object upside down.

This screen capture shows the appearance of Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical buttons and where they are located in the Options interface, just on the right of Angle controls. Flip Horizontal button has two triangles standing side-by-side, while Flip Vertical has two triangles with one on top of another.

The Flip Vertical and Flip Horizontal buttons do not always flip the object along a strictly horizontal or vertical mirror image. If you rotate the object, the axis it considers for horizontal and vertical flips rotate with it. For example, you rotate an object 90 degrees, clicking Flip Horizontal will cause the object to flip upside down. In essence, Flip Horizontal means flipping along the axis that extends from the yellow rotate handle to the white middle resize handle on the opposite side of the bounding box.

Using the resize handle

You can also use the resize handles on the sides to flip slide objects. However, using the handles may distort the object a little. Also, you cannot use the corner resize handles to flip objects.

An animated gif demonstrating how to flip a slide object using the resize handles. The handle on the left of the arrow is dragged to flip it sideways, while the handle on top of the pentagon is used to flip it upside down.To flip sideways using the resize handles, click either the left or the right handle and drag so that the width of the object becomes smaller to the point that it is a line thick, and just continue dragging to the same direction; you will then notice that the object is now becoming bigger but flipped. Stop dragging until you returned to the object's original size. You can follow the same process to flip the object upside down but use the top or bottom resize handle instead.

Since it is difficult to return the object to its exact original width or height by dragging the resize handles, this method is useful only if you want to do both flip and resize. Otherwise, just use the Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical buttons.

Final words

As you work on your learning materials using Captivate, you will need to resize, reposition, rotate, or flip many visual and interactive elements. Not all of these can work on all objects: for example, you can reduce the width of a video only up to 180 pixels, and you cannot flip polygons. You can flip image files, but not in the manner discussed here; you have to use the Edit Image function.

You can also resize and reposition an object by copying the size or position of another object, but that method shall be for another post.

Last updated on 08 Jan 2021.

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