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Points and Paths in Adobe InDesign CS3

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Flummoxed by the Pen Tool? Sandee Cohen shows you how to work with Points and Paths using the Pen Tool in Adobe InDesign CS3.
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I remember the first time I tried to use the Pen tool in a computer graphics program. I clicked the tool and dragged across the screen in the way I thought would create a simple curve. Instead, I got a wild series of lines that shot out in different directions. When I tried to change the shape of the curves, things got even worse. I was so startled I immediately closed up the program and didn’t use the Pen tool for a long, long time.

However, I really wanted to use the Pen tool, as I knew it was the best way to create curved shapes. So I forced myself to try the tool again. It took a lot of trial and error but eventually I was able to understand the Pen and Bezier controls. Later on, working with tools such as the Pencil and Eraser made it even easier to work with Bezier curves.

Once I got it, I realized the principles are simple. Even better, if you have used the Pen tool in Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, you will find InDesign’s Pen tool almost the same.

I wish someone had written out easy-to-understand, step-by-step instructions on how to use the Pen tool. So think of this chapter as the instructions for the Pen tool that I wish I had had back then.

Pen Points

One of the most important tools in any graphics program is the Pen tool. Fortunately, InDesign has a Pen tool that lets you create much more sophisticated shapes in your layout than can be created with the basic shape tools. (See Chapter 4, “Working with Objects,” for more information on working with the basic shapes.)

If you’ve never used a Pen tool in any graphics program, you will understand more if you first become familiar with the elements of paths.

Elements of Paths

Paths are defined by points and line segments. When you draw with the Pen tool you create the following:

  • Anchor points, which define a path at points where the path changes square1.gif. These can be plain corner points, smooth curve points, and corner curve points, as explained on the following pages.
  • Segments, which are the paths that connect anchor points square1.gif.
  • Control handles that extend out from anchor points; their length and direction control the shape of the segment’s curves square1.gif.
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