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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Bézier Boxes and Lines

For most people working in desktop publishing, the addition of Bézier curves to QuarkXPress version 4 was a joyous event. It means that we no longer had to leave QuarkXPress and open an illustration program just to set some text on a path, or draw a simple shape such as a heart to put a graphic in. Creating these kinds of elements has always been a hassle, and editing them was even worse. XPress's tools make editing paths and shapes much easier.

If you are familiar with the Bézier controls in programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Macromedia FreeHand, you will find the controls in XPress to be similar. As in those programs, the Bézier shapes are drawn with a Pen tool. And as in those programs, there are anchor points with handles to control the curves of the Bézier shapes. However, there are some features in QuarkXPress that are unique. This means that you may not be able to pick up the QuarkXPress Pen tools and start drawing immediately. You may need to retrain your fingers for the QuarkXPress tools.

If you have never worked with Bézier tools you may find them a little daunting. More than one student has given up learning the "dreaded Pen" tool in desktop illustration programs. Hang in there! Mastering the Bézier tools in QuarkXPress enables you to create the most sophisticated and interesting artwork and designs.

A word of caution: The Bézier tools in QuarkXPress are not a substitute for illustration programs such as Illustrator or FreeHand. The Bézier tools in QuarkXPress are for basic things like putting text on a path, converting text into masks, or creating simple shapes and logos. If you are working on complex illustrations, you will almost certainly find more powerful tools in a dedicated illustration program. Of course, having said that, people will probably start sending me all sorts of sophisticated artwork created solely in QuarkXPress. And I will be very impressed. (But I won't change my opinion.)

Understanding Bézier Controls

Why are they called "Bézier" controls? Because they were created by a French mathematician named Pierre Etienne Bézier (1910–1999). For those of you who never took French, his name is pronounced Bay-zee-EH. What Monsieur Bézier did was create a mathematical system to define the shape of curves.

Before Bézier, drafting was performed by painfully plotting dozens or even hundreds of points on a curve. Après Bézier, the entire curve could be described with one very short description including two coordinates points and their "control handles" (I'll explain handles in a minute). Not only are these curves easy to describe mathematically, but they lend themselves to a very simple user interface as well.

There are three different aspects to Bézier curves: points, segments, and control handles.

Bézier points. There are three different types of Bézier points in QuarkXPress: smooth points, symmetrical points, and corner points. Each one creates a different type of shape (see Figure 3-14).

  • Smooth Points. Smooth points create curves with smooth transitions. The top of a roller coaster is a good example of a smooth curve. There is no abrupt change from the curve going up to the one going down, so you say the transition is "smooth." When you select a smooth point on a curve, it's indicated by a diamond dot.
  • Symmetrical Points. Symmetrical points are the same as smooth points except that the shape on one side of the curve is always equal to the shape on the other side. The curve created by a swinging pendulum is a good example of a symmetical point. The left side of the arc created by the pendulum is equal to the right side of the arc. Symmetical points that are selected are indicated on the path by a square dot.
  • Corner Points. Corner points abruptly change their direction. The path of a ball bouncing is a good example of a path with a corner point. The top arc of the path is smooth, but the point where the ball hits the ground is a corner point because the path changes its shape abruptly. When you select a corner point, it appears on the path as a triangle dot.
3_14_bezier_points.jpg

Figure 3-14 The different types of Bézier points

Segments. Segments are the connections—or lines—between points (see Figure 3-15). There are two different types of segments in QuarkXPress: curved segments and straight segments.

  • Curved Segments. Curved segments are those that have a curved shape. They can be created between any two types of points.
  • Straight Segments. Straight segments are (surprise!) those that have no curve to them. A straight segment can only be created between two corner points.

3_15_bezier_segments.jpg

Figure 3-15 The two different types of Bézier segments

Control handles. Control handles tell curves where to go. Technically, the control handle defines the tangent to the curve, but I like to think of it more like the control handle saying "come toward this direction." As you draw or edit the points of Bézier curves, you see colored lines extending out from your points (see Figure 3-16). These are the control handles for the points. (Control handles are used solely to define the shape of the object. They don't print.) As you drag the handles around, the curve changes.

3_16_handles.jpg

Figure 3-16 The two different types of Control handles

Smooth and symmetrical points always have two control handles (one on each side of the point). Corner points, on the other hand, can have two handles, one handle, or even no handles. Actually, even when it looks like there's no handle, there really is one . . . it's just that the handle has a length of zero, so it's sitting exactly on top of the corner point.

Every control handle is either an "In" handle or an "Out" handle, depending on which side of the point it sits on. They have exactly the same function, but it's useful to differentiate between them when talking about how to draw these curves and also when editing them. The In control handle has a small diamond at the end of the handle; the Out control handle has a square.

Bézier and Freehand Tools

QuarkXPress offers two kinds of tools that create Bézier shapes: the pen tools and the freehand tools. (I use the word "freehand" to describe how they work; they don't have anything to do with Macromedia's FreeHand drawing program.) However, these two tools each come in five flavors—text box, picture box, contentless box, line, and text path—for a total of 10 different Bézier tools (see Figure 3-19).

3_19_bezier_tools.jpg

Figure 3-19 The Bézier and freehand tools in the toolbox

Pen tools let you create shapes by precisely placing Bézier points and manipulating the control handles as you create the shape. The freehand tools let you draw a shape freeform, by eye; XPress then traces your path, figuring out where the points and control handles should be positioned.

Drawing with the Pen Tools

Okay, it's time to get down to business with some exercises that should help you learn to use the various Bézier tools. I'm going to walk you quickly through three sets of step-by-step instructions that use the three types of Bézier points.

Here's three suggestions to keep in mind as you're working. First, watch how the cursor changes depending on where it is located and what function it is performing (see Table 3-2). Second, watch the shape of the points on the path. Those shapes are also clues as to the type of path being created. Finally, while you're learning to use the Bézier tools, give yourself a large, open page to work on. Don't try to cramp your artwork into a tight little space.

Table 3-2. Bézier cursor clues

IF YOU WANT TO ...

LOOK FOR THIS CURSOR ...

Move a point

fig_a.jpg

Move or extend a control handle

fig_b.jpg

Add point to a path

fig_c.jpg

Delete a point or handle

fig_d.jpg

Close a path

fig_e.jpg

Move or modify a segment

fig_f.jpg

Convert between Smooth and Corner points

fig_g.jpg

Drawing corner points. The easiest type of point to draw with the pen tools is a corner point connected to a straight segment. So this first exercise is to draw a diamond shape that consists of only four corner points (see Figure 3-21). If you used earlier versions of QuarkXPress, you'll find that drawing corner points is, at its simplest, just like making a polygonal picture box.

  1. Select the Bézier Pen Picture Box tool. (Although these lessons apply to all the Bézier pen tools, I use the picture box tools here.)
  2. Position your mouse where the left point of the diamond should be located, and click. You should see a little colored dot indicating that you have placed the first point. (If the color of the dot looks familiar, it's because Bézier paths are colored the same as your Margin guides as you're drawing them; for more information see "Changing Default Preferences," in Chapter 2, QuarkXPress Basics.)
  3. Move your mouse to where the top point of the diamond should be located, and click. You should see another colored dot with a colored line connecting the first and second points.
  4. Now do the same for the right point and the bottom point of the diamond.
  5. Finally, as you place your mouse over the first point you created, the cursor should change to a rounded-corner rectangle. Click to close the box. Or, alternately, remember that you can close the path automatically simply by switching to another tool.
3_21a_diamond.jpg

Figure 3-21 Drawing a straight-segment object

Congratulations! You have just created a diamond shape with a Bézier pen tool.

Drawing a curved object. The second-easiest type of point to draw is a smooth point connected to another smooth point. This exercise is to draw a bean shape, which consists of only easy smooth points (see Figure 3-22).

  1. Select the Bézier Pen Picture Box tool.
  2. Position your mouse where the left curve of the bean should be located. Press down on the mouse and drag up. You should see a colored dot with two control handles. Stop dragging when the Out control handle extends about 1.5 inches out from the colored dot.
  3. Move your mouse to where the top point of the bean should be located. Press and drag down and to the right at approximately a 30-degree angle. Stop dragging when the Out control handle extends about 1.5 inches out from the colored dot. You'll see an arc connecting the first and second dots.
  4. Move your mouse to where the middle curve of the bean should be located. Press and drag straight down. Stop dragging when the Out control handle extends about 0.5 inch out from the colored dot. You will see an arc connecting the second and third dots.
  5. Move your mouse down to where the bottom curve of the bean should be located. Press and drag down and to the left at approximately a 30-degree angle. Stop dragging when the Out control handle extends about 1.5 inches out from the colored dot. You will see an arc connecting the third and fourth dots.
  6. Move your mouse back to the first point you created and click once to close the path with a curved segment.
3_22a_bean.jpg

Figure 3-22 Drawing a curved-segment object

Well done! You have just created a bean shape with a Bézier pen tool. However, if you don't like what you have created, don't delete it. In the next section, I discuss how you can edit the points, segments, and control handles on your curve.

Drawing a combination object. The previous two exercises contained only one type of point each. But shapes in the real world are much more complicated, consisting of objects with combinations of points and combinations of segments. In this exercise we'll draw a baseball field shape (or, if you prefer, an ice cream cone shape), which consists of both corner and smooth points (see Figure 3-23).

  1. Select the Bézier Pen Picture Box tool.
  2. Position your mouse where the home plate of the field should be located, and click to create a corner point.
  3. Move your mouse to where third base should be. Click to create another corner point with a straight segment, connecting home to third.
  4. Now we're going to begin a curve, so you need to add an Out handle to the point you just made. (Remember that I said corner points can have control handles that sit right on top of the point? Here's how you drag it out.) Hold down the Command (Ctrl) key and move the cursor on top of the third-base point. When the cursor is directly over the point, the cursor looks like a finger with a small black dot. If you click and drag now, you'll move the point itself.

    Move the cursor to the other side of the point from the line segment you've already drawn by one or two screen pixels, and the cursor changes to a finger with a white dot (see Figure 3-24). Now when you click and drag, you're manipulating the control handle, not the point itself. (It's a subtle cursor change, but a crucial one.)

    3_23a_baseball.jpg

    Figure 3-23 Drawing a combination-segment object

    3_24_handlecursor.jpg

    Figure 3-24 Close up detail on the cursor showing how it will move the control handle rather than the point itself

  5. Drag straight up to extend the Out handle from the point.
  6. Move your mouse to where the top of the outfield would be. Click and drag to the right to create a smooth point at the top of the curve.
  7. Move your mouse over to where first base should be. Since you need to complete the curve of the outfield, click and then drag straight down; this creates both In and Out handles on this point.
  8. The final segment of the shape is a straight line, so you need to remove the Out handle from the point you just made. Hold down both the Command and Option (or Ctrl-Alt) keys and click on the Out handle to "delete" it. (It looks like you're deleting it, but you're really just retracting it so that it sits on top of the point itself.)
  9. To finish the field, move your mouse down to the first point and click.

Well, take me out to the ballgame! You've just created a baseball-field shape. Don't worry if your field is a little asymmetrical. You can always edit the points and handles of your shape later on. Or tell everyone it's a field in San Francisco.

Pen and keyboard actions for Bézier tools. Table 3-3 lists a summary of the mouse and keyboard actions for drawing with any of the Bézier tools. I find that sometimes it's not worth the trouble to get the shape right the first time, so I draw smooth points everywhere and then edit them later.

Table 3-3. Mouse and keyboard actions for drawing

TO CREATE A ...

... DO THIS

Smooth point

Drag

Corner point with no handles

Click

Corner point with only an In handle

Drag, then Command-Option-click on the Out handle

Corner point with only an Out handle

Click, then Command-drag out the Out handle

Corner point with both In and Out handles

Drag, then Command-Option to retract the Out handle, then Command-drag to extend a new Out handle (or—Macintosh only—Drag, then Command-Control-drag the Out handle)

Editing Bézier Paths

Once you've created a path, that doesn't mean you have to live with it exactly the way you first drew it. (Otherwise, the world would be full of asymmetrical baseball fields!) XPress offers several tools to let you modify points and paths either by eye or by using precise numeric entries.

Selecting points. Before you can modify a point on a path, you have to select it. And in order to select a point on a path, Edit Shape must be turned on (select Shape from the Edit submenu, under the Item menu). When Edit Shape is turned on, you can see (and edit) the points on the curve. When it's off, you can only manipulate the object's bounding box (see Figure 3-25).

3_25a_editpoints.jpg

Figure 3-25 Edit Shape

To select a point on a path, select the object first, and then click on the point (you can use either the Item or Content tool for this). Unfortunately, dragging a marquee over a point does not select it; you have to click right on it. When I'm trying to get something done quickly, I often find myself accidentally moving the point when I click on it. Be careful of this, and keep one hand on the Command-Z (Ctrl-Z) keys so you can Undo the action as necessary.

There are several ways to select more than one point on the path.

  • You can hold down the Shift key and click on the additional points.
  • Clicking on a segment between two points automatically selects the two points on either end of the segment.
  • You can double-click on a point to select all the points in the path. (If the path is a compound path—that is, there is more than one independent path within the total path—you can select all the points on all the paths by triple-clicking.)

Dragging points and segments. Once you have selected a point or points on your path, you can move or edit it (them) by dragging with either the Item or Content tool. Again, watch the cursor for clues: The cursor that looks like a hand with a black dot indicates that you're going to move the selected point. The Item tool cursor ("the pointy-thingy") indicates that you're going to move the entire object rather than individual points. The hand with a white dot means you're going to drag a cursor handle. (Actually, to be more precise, the white dot is either a white square or a white diamond, depending on whether you're on top of an In or an Out handle.)

There is one other cursor you'll see: the hand cursor with a little line next to it. This indicates that you can move the segment between two points (see Figure 3-26). What happens when you click and drag, however, depends on the type of points at the ends of the segment.

  • If the two points are corner points, dragging the segment actually moves both points.
  • If one or both of the points are smooth or symmetrical, the points don't move when you drag the segment. Instead, the control handles adjust accordingly.
3_26a_dragsement.jpg

Figure 3-26 Moving segments

Sometimes it's just too much of a hassle to adjust the control handles to create the curve I'm looking for, so I just grab the segment I'm editing and drag it to where I want it to go. This way, QuarkXPress does all the work in figuring out the correct positions for the control handles.

Changing points in the Measurements palette. Designers working in illustration programs usually like to move things around by eye. However, many XPress users want or need to work with more numerical precision. Fortunately, the Measurements palette lets you see and modify all the attributes of points on your curve: their type, their position, and the position of their control handles (see Figure 3-27). I'll hold off on changing point type for now, and focus just on altering point and handle position.

  • Point Position. When you select a single point on your curve, the right side of the Measurements palette displays its position in the XP and YP fields. If you're trying to make a small change to a point's position, it's usually much easier to do it here than to drag the point around.
  • Handle Position. At first, the way the Measurements palette displays the positions of a point's control handles seems odd, but it turns out to be incredibly intuitive and useful. The In handle (the white diamond) and the Out handle (the white square) are represented by their angle and their length. As for all angles in XPress, this angle value increases counterclockwise. That is, zero degrees leads horizontally to the right of the point on the curve, 90 degrees points directly up, and so on.Of course, when you change either the angle or the length of one control handle, it may change the other's as well, depending on the type of the point. Corner points have fully independent handles. The handles on smooth points can have different lengths, but their angles always add up to 180 degrees. And both the lengths and the angles are locked to each other in symmetrical points.
3_27_bezier_measurements.jpg

Figure 3-27 Bézier points in the Measurements palette

Adding and deleting points. It's easy to add or remove a point on your path: just Option-click (Alt-click). The same keystroke adds or removes points, depending on where you click. Note that the kind of point that XPress adds depends on the type of segment you're clicking on: if it's a straight-line segment, XPress adds a corner point; otherwise, it adds a smooth point. Basically, the program tries to alter the shape of the Bézier curve as little as possible when you add a point.

Changing a point type. Gertrude Stein would never have said that a curve is a curve is a curve, because she knew that you could change the type of a point with a click of a button or the flick of a keystroke. Once you have selected a point on a curve, you can change its type in one of four ways (see Figure 3-28).

  • Item Menu. You can select a point type from the Point/Segment Type submenu (under the Item menu; see Figure 3-29). This is by far the slowest method.
    3_28_to_symmetrical_points.jpg

    Figure 3-28 Changing the type of a point

    3_29_point_types.jpg

    Figure 3-29 Point types

  • Measurements Palette. You can click on a point type in the Measurements palette.
  • Keystroke. You can press Option-F1, -F2, or -F3 to change the selected point to a corner, smooth, or symmetrical point, respectively. (Use the Control key in Windows.)
  • Click And Drag. If you're the interactive type, you might like the ability to click or click-and-drag on a point or a control handle with the Control key held down (Control and Shift in Windows). This works whether you have the Item or Content tool selected. If you Control-click on a smooth or symmetrical point, its control handles are retracted to a length of zero and it becomes a corner point. You can also turn a smooth or symmetrical point into a corner point by Control-dragging one of its control handles. This method doesn't retract the handles (see Figure 3-30).
    3_30a_retracthandles.jpg

    Figure 3-30 Dragging smooth points into corner points

Conversely, you can change a corner point into a smooth point by holding down the Control key (again, Control-Alt in Windows) and clicking and dragging on the point itself. This extends the control handles as you drag.

Changing a segment type. Just as you may want to modify the type of a point, you might consider changing the type of a segment from straight to curved, or vice versa. To do this, you need to select the segment (either click on it or select the points on either side of the segment). Then you can select Straight Segment or Curved Segment from the Point/Segment Type sub-menu (under the Item menu)—this is the slow way; or you can click on the Straight or Curved Segment icon in the Measurements palette. A third choice: press Option-Shift-F1 to get a straight segment, or Option-Shift-F2 to get a curved segment (Control-Shift-F1 and Control-Shift-F2, respectively, in Windows).

When you convert a segment from curved to straight, any control handles that extended into the segment are retracted. This usually radically changes the appearance of the path (see Figure 3-31).

3_31a_curved_to_straight.jpg

Figure 3-31 Changing the type of segments

When you convert a segment from straight to curved, however, the appearance of the segment doesn't change at all. Two control handles are simply added to the points at the end of the segment; you can then drag these control handles to create the curve.

Scissors Tool

When you have the Scissors XTension active (it is installed by default), XPress adds a Scissors tool to the bottom of the Tool palette. The Scissors tool lets you cut boxes and lines. For instance, if you click in the middle of a line, XPress splits the line into two lines at that point. If you click in the middle of a text path, XPress splits it into two text paths and automatically links them together (as though you had linked them with the Text Link tool). The Scissors tool also converts text boxes into text paths (see "Tip: Text Boxes to Text Paths," later in this chapter).

Merge Commands

Okay, I admit it: I couldn't draw my way out of a paper bag. There just seems to be a disconnect between the part of my brain that knows what it wants and the part that can use these tools. Because of this, I often combine various oval and rectangular boxes to create the shapes I want. QuarkXPress makes this easy with the various features under the Merge submenu (under the Item menu); see Figure 3-33. The Merge commands allow you to join separate shapes into one, or to have one shape act like a cookie cutter on another.

3_33_merge.jpg

Figure 3-33 The Merge commands

In order to use the Merge features, you have to select two or more boxes or lines. After selecting one of the Merge features, you'll end up with one box (even if the original objects were lines, your final shape is always a box—the one exception is the Join Endpoints command). If the original items have different background colors, the final box takes on the background color of the back-most object. Similarly, if the original boxes have imported text or graphics, only the text or the graphic in the back-most object is kept (see Figure 3-34).

3fig34.gif

Figure 3-34 The Merge commands in action

There are seven features in the Merge submenu: Intersection, Union, Difference, Reverse Difference, Exclusive Or, Combine, and Join Endpoints. (As we'll see in a moment, Join Endpoints is only available when you have two lines selected.)

Figure 3-35 contains some examples of various effects you can create with the Merge features. After reading the following descriptions, can you tell how each one was created?

3fig35.gif

Figure 3-35 Special effects with the Merge features

Intersection. The Intersection command looks for the areas where the objects overlap the back-most object. It keeps those areas and then deletes all the other areas of the shapes. If the front-most objects are separate, the remaining objects will also be separate. A single object that has separate, individual paths is called a compound object, or a compound path (see Figure 3-36).

3_36_compound_object.jpg

Figure 3-36 Compound objects

Union. The Union feature combines all the shapes into one object, and no hole is left behind where they overlapped. If some of the original shapes aren't overlapping the others, then the Union command leaves the objects separate, but they all act as one compound object. (In fact, if none of the original objects overlap, then Union is identical to the Combine command.)

Difference. The Difference command uses the front object as a cookie cutter on the back-most object. The result is that the shape of the front object is cut out of the back-most object, even if that means punching a hole in the middle of it. (If you select two concentric circles and choose Difference, you end up with the shape of a bagel with a see-through hole in the center.)

Reverse Difference. The Reverse Difference command reverses the previous command. That is, Reverse Difference creates a union of all the selected objects except the back-most one. It then cuts out the shape of the back-most object from this front-most union.

Exclusive Or. The Exclusive Or feature builds a transparent hole wherever the shapes overlap. This hole is a compound path that you can move around later if you want (see "Tip: Moving Pieces of Compound Objects," below). If you select two objects, one of which is completely enclosed by the other, Exclusive Or is identical to Difference. If the objects don't overlap at all, the result is identical to Union. But if the objects are only partially overlapping, you get really wacky results. I've tried for months to think of a practical use for this feature, to no avail. If you find it indispensible for some reason, let me know.

Combine. The Combine command creates an effect visually identical to the Exclusive Or command. Also like Exclusive Or, if two objects are fully contained within each other, it's identical to Difference; if the objects are not overlapping, it's identical to Union. The big difference is that if the shapes are partially overlapping, each original item is maintained as a separate path within the compound object. That is, XPress won't create any new paths for you, as it does with Exclusive Or. This becomes relevant if you try to edit the paths later.

Join Endpoints. The last item on the Merge submenu, Join Endpoints, is only available when you have two lines or text paths selected. There's one other condition for Join Endpoints to work, however: two end points (one on each path) must be placed on top of each other. (Actually, they can be within 6 points of each other.) As soon as you select Join Endpoints, XPress merges the two points into one corner point (moving each of them slightly, if necessary; see Figure 3-37).

3_37_join_endpoints.gif

Figure 3-37 Join Endpoints command

Join Endpoints doesn't work with only Bézier lines. You can join a Bézier Text Path to an Orthogonal line, or join together two Orthogonal lines to create a new Bézier line, and so on. The only requirement is that both objects be open lines. As I said earlier, if you join different types or styles of lines, the resulting path takes on the attributes of the back object. For instance, regular lines are converted to text paths if the back-most object is a text path.

Splitting Compound Objects

So now you know how to merge shapes together, and you've seen how this sometimes results in compound objects. There's got to be a way to pull these compound paths apart again. Indeed there is. You've got two choices in the Split submenu (under the Item menu): Split Outside Paths and Split All Paths. Which you use depends on what you've got and what you're trying to achieve.

Split All Paths simply separates every independent path within a compound object into its own object. Split Outside Paths, on the other hand, only splits up paths that aren't surrounded by other paths. For instance, let's say you've used the Union feature to make two bagels sitting next to each other. Split All Paths would turn this into four separate ovals. Split Outside Paths would turn it into two bagels, because the "holes" in each bagel are fully enclosed, and so they don't get separated (see Figure 3-39).

3fig39.gif

Figure 3-39 Split commands

Transforming Boxes and Lines

Once you have created a text box, picture box, contentless box, or line, you can change it into some other form using the Shape submenu under the Item menu (see Figure 3-40). For example, if you made a rectangular picture box on your page, you could turn it into an oval by first selecting the picture box and then selecting the oval picture box icon in the Shape submenu.

3_40_shape_submenu.jpg

Figure 3-40 Shape submenu

I can't say that I've ever used some of the items in the Shape submenu for anything other than a good chuckle . . . for instance, the beveled-corner box and the photo-frame box. But you might have some use for them, and if you do, remember that the "depth" of the bevel or the concave curve is determined by the Corner Radius setting (in the Measurements palette or the Modify dialog box).

Instead, I most often use the Shape feature to convert boxes to lines or vice versa.

Converting boxes to paths. You can convert any kind of box into a line by selecting one of the three line shapes in the Shapes submenu: diagonal, orthogonal, or Bézier.

  • Diagonal Line. When you convert a box into a diagonal line, XPress replaces the box with a line that stretches from the upper-left corner to the lower-right corner of the box's bounding rectangle (the bounding rectangle is the smallest rectangle that completely encloses the box shape). If you can find a good use for this, more power to you.
  • Orthogonal Line. Selecting the orthogonal line is actually even less useful: you just get a horizontal line that spans the width of the box.
  • Bézier Line. Choosing the Bézier line is where you hit pay dirt. When you select this option, the outline of the box you have selected becomes a Bézier line. Of course, Bézier lines are always open paths, so even though the path probably appears closed, it has a beginning and an ending point. (It's sometimes difficult to find an endpoint . . . look for any one point on the path that looks even slightly different from the others. If you still can't find one, and you really need to, just start clicking and moving points—and then selecting Undo if it's not an endpoint—until you find the right place.)

Note that if the box had a dash or stripe selected as a frame, that same style is applied to the resulting path. (Of course, the special bitmapped frames can't be applied to lines; see "Frames, Dashes, and Stripes," later in this chapter.)

Note that you cannot currently undo a change from a box to a path. Because of this, I usually make a duplicate of the box before converting the original.

3fig41.gif

Figure 3-41 Converting a framed box to a line

Converting paths to boxes. If you select a line and choose one of the regular boxes from the Shape submenu—such as the rectangular or oval box—XPress replaces your line with a box of this shape (the size of the box is determined by the line's bounding rectangle). This isn't particularly interesting. What is interesting is what happens when you choose the Bézier box from the Shape submenu.

If you simply select the Bézier shape, XPress converts the outline of the path into a box. For instance, if you have a straight line 1 inch long and 8 points thick, the result is a rectangular box that is 1 inch long and 8 points wide (see Figure 3-43). Obviously, it doesn't make much sense to do this for thin lines.

3fig43.gif

Figure 3-43 Converting paths to boxes

If you hold down the Option (Alt) key when selecting the Bézier box shape, XPress does something completely different: it closes the path for you. If the line had a line style (dots, dashes, or whatever), QuarkXPress applies that style as the box's frame.

3fig44.gif

Figure 3-44 Converting line styles to Bézier boxes

Switching shapes back and forth. Just because you can convert one box shape into another, or change lines to boxes and vice versa, don't get the idea that it's always reversible. In fact, it's pretty rare that once you've changed an object from one shape into another, you'll ever be able to get it back to the original shape again.

Converting Text to Paths

Digital typefaces, as we'll see in Chapter 6, Type and Typography, generally contain mathematical outlines of each character in the font. These outlines are scalable, so that you can view or print them at any resolution or size and they'll always be smooth. Wouldn't it be cool if you could also convert those outlines into QuarkXPress Bézier boxes? You can.

To convert text to a box, select the text with the Content tool and choose Text to Box from the Style menu (see Figure 3-45). There are, of course, a few caveats. You can only convert up to a single line of text at a time. You can only convert fonts for which you have the outline files installed (even then, some fonts don't seem to convert well, particularly the TrueType system fonts like Chicago or Geneva on the Macintosh). Finally, while you can convert a lot of characters at the same time, it doesn't mean that you'll actually get them to print later. Keep it simple.

3_45_text_to_paths.jpg

Figure 3-45 Creating Bézier paths from text

If you have selected more than one character of text, they are all converted into a single picture box. You can then use Split Outside Paths to separate them into individual characters, if you'd like. Whether you split them or not, you can use all the editing features I've discussed to manipulate the outlines. After all, these are picture boxes now.

Also, note that I use the term convert. However, I should probably say create, because the original text is not deleted from the text box (although see the next tip).

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