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Modifying Shapes: Natural Drawing Tools

All the strokes and fills you create in Flash can be edited after you've drawn them. You can edit merge-shapes and drawing-objects in Flash's natural-drawing style, using the selection tool to change the path that defines the shape, or you can work directly with the path's anchor points and Bézier curves by using the subselection, pen, and anchor-point tools (see "Modifying Shapes: Bézier Tools," later in this chapter). You can modify primitive-shapes by manipulating their control points with the selection or subselection tools, or you can change their properties in the Property inspector.

When you use the selection tool, the merge-shape or drawing-object you want to modify must be deselected. If the element is selected, the selection tool moves the element as a unit. Always note what kind of icon the selection pointer is displaying as it hovers over the path you want to modify.

For the following tasks, make sure the item you want to modify is deselected. These tasks all deal with modifying strokes, but the same techniques work for modifying fills by reshaping their paths (see the sidebar "The Mystery of Fill Paths," later in this chapter).

To activate the end of a segment with the selection tool:

  1. Position the pointer over the end point of a deselected line segment. The corner-point modifier appears.
  2. Click the end point. The end of the segment becomes active.
  3. Reposition the end point in any of the following ways:
    • Drag away from the existing line or curve to lengthen the segment.
    • Drag toward the existing line or curve to shorten the segment.
    • Drag at an angle to the original line to pivot a straight-line segment to a new position or reshape the end of a curve segment.
    As you drag, the end of the line changes to a small circle, showing that the line is active for modifications; Flash previews the modified segment as you drag (Figure 4.51).
    Figure 4.51

    Figure 4.51 Drag away from the existing curve or line segment to lengthen it (top). Reposition the end point to change the direction of the line or curve segment (middle, bottom).

  4. Release the mouse button.

    Flash redraws the line segment.

To reshape a curve with the selection tool:

  1. Position the selection tool's pointer over the middle of an unselected curve segment. The curve-point modifier appears.
  2. Click and drag the curve to reshape it (Figure 4.52).
    Figure 4.52

    Figure 4.52 Click the middle of a curve (A). Flash activates the curve segment (B). Drag the curve to a new position (C). When you release the mouse button, Flash redraws the curve (D).

    Flash previews the curve you're drawing.
  3. Release the mouse button.

    Flash redraws the curve.

To turn a straight-line segment into a curve segment with the selection tool:

  1. Position the selection tool's pointer over the middle of an unselected line segment.

    The curve-point modifier appears.

  2. Click and drag the line to reshape it (Figure 4.53).
    Figure 4.53

    Figure 4.53 Although this line doesn't look curved (top), Flash considers all its middle points to be curve points. Drag one of those points to create a line that looks like a curve (bottom).

    Flash previews the curve that you're drawing.

  3. Release the mouse button.

    Flash redraws the line, giving it the curve you defined.

To create a new corner point with the selection tool:

  1. Position the selection tool's pointer over the middle of an unselected line or curve segment.

    The curve-point modifier appears.

  2. Option-click (Mac) or Alt- or Ctrl-click (Windows).

    After a brief pause, the selection tool's modifier changes to the corner-point modifier, and a circle appears where the pointer intersects the line. You're now activating a corner point.

  3. Drag to modify the line or curve segment and add a new corner point (Figure 4.54).
    Figure 4.54

    Figure 4.54 Option-click (Mac) or Alt- or Ctrl-click (Windows) to create a new corner point for editing your line. Dragging a corner point from a straight-line segment creates a sharp V (top). Dragging a corner point from a curve creates a V with curving sides that comes to a sharp point (bottom).

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