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This chapter is from the book

Modifying Shapes: Bézier Tools

The subselection tool lets you see and manipulate the anchor points of a path. You can reposition anchor points to change the path and you can manipulate a point's Bézier handles to modify the slope and depth of the curve. You can add and delete points and convert existing curve points to corner points, or vice versa, with the three anchor-point tools or the pen tool. Flash has two styles for displaying anchor points: hollow (the default) and solid. To pick a style, from the Flash menu (Mac) or the Edit menu (Windows), choose Preferences. In the dialog that appears, from the Category list, choose Drawing. In the Pen Tool section, select/deselect the Show Solid Points check box; click OK.

The tasks in this book assume that Show Solid Points is active.

To view a path and anchor points:

  1. In the Tools panel, choose the subselection tool (Figure 4.55), or press A.
    Figure 4.55

    Figure 4.55 Use the subselection tool to modify the path of a line segment.

    The pointer changes to a hollow arrow.

  2. On the Stage, click the line or curve you want to modify.

    Flash selects and highlights the path and anchor points. To manipulate a particular point, you must select it directly.

To select an anchor point:

  1. In the Tools panel, select the subselection tool.
  2. Move the subselection pointer over the path you want to modify.

    A small solid square appears next to the hollow arrow when the pointer is above a curve or line segment; a small hollow square appears next to the hollow arrow when the pointer is directly above an anchor point (Figure 4.57).

    Figure 4.57

    Figure 4.57 A solid square appears next to the subselection tool when it's ready to select the entire path (top). When a hollow square appears (bottom), the tool is ready to select and manipulate a single anchor point.

  3. Click an anchor point. Flash highlights the selected point and displays its Bézier handles.

To move a corner point:

  1. Use the subselection tool to highlight the path and anchor points of the element you want to modify.
  2. Position the pointer over a corner point.
  3. Click and drag the desired corner point to a new location. Flash redraws the path (Figure 4.58).
    Figure 4.58

    Figure 4.58 Using the subselection tool, drag a corner point to reposition it.

To move a curve point:

  1. Use the subselection tool to highlight the path and anchor points of the element.
  2. Position the pointer over a curve point. The anchor-point modifier appears.
  3. Click and drag the point to a new location (Figure 4.59).
    Figure 4.59

    Figure 4.59 When you select an anchor point (A), Flash highlights the entire path (B). You can drag the anchor point to modify the path (C). The path and anchor points remain highlighted when you're done (D).

    Flash previews the new curve as you drag.

    After you move a curve point, the path remains selected, and the Bézier control handles become active so that you can further manipulate the curve.

To reshape a curve with the Bézier handles:

  1. With the subselection tool, click the curve you want to modify.
  2. Click one of the anchor points that define the curve you want to modify.

    Bézier handles appear.

  3. Click and drag one of the Bézier handles.

    The pointer changes to a solid arrowhead as you drag.

  4. To modify the curve, do one or more of the following:
    • To make the curve bulge in the opposite direction, move the Bézier handle past the existing curve, in the opposite direction from the current bulge.
    • To make the curve deeper, position the Bézier handle farther from the anchor point.
    • To make the curve shallower, position the Bézier handle closer to the anchor point.
    Flash previews the new curve as you manipulate the Bézier handle (Figure 4.60).
    Figure 4.60

    Figure 4.60 When you select anchor points, their Bézier handles appear (A). Leaning a Bézier handle away from a curve (B) makes that curve segment more pronounced (C). Leaning the handle toward the curve flattens that part of the curve. Dragging the Bézier handle away from its anchor point (D) makes the curve deeper (E); dragging the handle toward the anchor point makes the curve shallower.

To convert a corner point to a curve point:

  1. Use the subselection tool to highlight the path and anchor points of the path you want to modify.
  2. In the Tools panel, click the current Bézier tool and from the submenu that opens, choose Convert Anchor Point Tool (Figure 4.62).
    Figure 4.62

    Figure 4.62 Flash has four tools for modifying the anchor points and Bézier curves of a path. Click the current Bézier tool in the Tools panel to access a submenu showing all four.

    The pointer changes to an upward-pointing caret.

  3. Position the caret pointer over a corner point.
  4. To activate Bézier handles, click the point, then drag away.

    Flash converts the corner point to a curve point that has Bézier handles (Figure 4.63). As you drag, the handles extend and move, modifying the curve.

    Figure 4.63

    Figure 4.63 To change a corner point into a curve point (one with Bézier handles) using the convert–anchor-point tool, click (top) and drag a corner point. You pull Bézier handles out of the point instead of relocating the point (middle). When you release the mouse button, Flash redraws the curve (bottom).

To convert a curve point to a corner point:

  1. Using the subselection tool, select the path you want to modify.
  2. In the Tools panel, from the Bézier-tools submenu, select the convert–anchor-point tool.
  3. Position the caret pointer over a curve point.
  4. Click the curve point.

    Flash converts the curve point to a corner point, removing the Bézier handles and flattening the curved path (Figure 4.64).

    Figure 4.64

    Figure 4.64 Clicking a curve point with the convert–anchor-point tool (left) reduces the point to a corner point (right). Flash redraws the path accordingly.

To delete an anchor point:

  1. Using the subselection tool, select the path you want to modify.
  2. In the Tools panel, click the current Bézier tool, and from the submenu that opens, choose the delete–anchor-point tool.

    The pointer changes to a pen icon with a remove-point modifier (a minus sign).

  3. Position the pointer over an anchor point and click.

    Flash removes the anchor point and reshapes the path to connect the remaining points (Figure 4.65).

    Figure 4.65

    Figure 4.65 Click an anchor point with the delete–anchor-point tool to remove the point. Flash redraws the path accordingly.

To add a point within a path:

  1. Use the subselection tool to select the path you want to modify.
  2. In the Tools panel, from the Bézier-tool menu, select the add–anchor-point tool.

    The pointer changes to a pen with a plus-sign modifier.

  3. Position the pointer over the path and do any of the following:
    • Click between two corner points to create a new corner point.
    • Click between two curve points to create a new curve point.
    • Click between a corner point and a curve point to create a new curve point.

    Flash adds a new point (Figure 4.66).

    Figure 4.66

    Figure 4.66 When you position the pen tool between existing anchor points, a small plus sign appears next to the pointer (left). With the plus-sign modifier active, click the path to add a new point (right).

To extend an existing path:

  1. In the Tools panel, from the Bézier-tool submenu, select the pen tool.
  2. Position the pointer over the anchor point at either end of the path (a terminal anchor point). The continue-path modifier—a small slash—appears next to the pen icon.
  3. Click the terminal anchor point. The pen links to that point as if you'd just placed it.
  4. Click to add points as you learned to do in Chapter 2. Note that to create a single unified path, the pen tool and the existing path must be in the same drawing mode. If the existing path is a drawing-object and the pen is set to Merge Drawing mode (or vice versa), Flash places the points, but the segments remain separate.
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