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Distorting Graphic Elements

The free-transform tool's Distort modifier lets you distort some graphic elements by changing the shape of the transform box. You can move the box's corners individually; move paired corner handles simultaneously to turn the rectangular box into a trapezoid; and move the side handles to stretch, shrink, or skew the box. The selected element(s) redraw to fit the altered box. The Distort modifier works only on merge-shapes and single, selected drawing-objects; Distort doesn't work on primitive-shapes, text fields (see Chapter 3), groups (see Chapter 5), symbols (see Chapter 7), or selections with multiple drawing-objects.

To distort an element freely:

  1. Using the free-transform tool, select the element you want to distort.

    A transform box with handles appears.

  2. In the Tools panel, select the Distort modifier (Figure 4.34).
    Figure 4.34

    Figure 4.34 Choose the free-transform tool's Distort modifier to reposition the corner points of a selected item's transform box independently.

    The center point of the selection disappears, indicating that you are in Distort mode.
  3. Position the pointer over one of the transform handles.

    The pointer changes to a hollow arrowhead.

  4. To change the shape of the transform box, do one of the following:
    • To relocate one corner of the box, position the pointer over one of the corner handles; then click and drag the handle to the desired location. You can position each corner handle independently (Figure 4.35).
      Figure 4.35

      Figure 4.35 Use the free-transform tool's Distort modifier to redefine the shape of an element's transform box. You can drag each corner handle separately.

    • To skew the element, position the pointer over one of the side handles; then drag the handle to the desired position. The element skews toward the direction you drag.
    • To stretch the element as you skew it, move the selected side handle away from the element's center (Figure 4.36).
      Figure 4.36

      Figure 4.36 When the Distort modifier is selected, dragging the side handles of a selected element's transform box skews the element. To enlarge (or shrink) the element at the same time, move the side handle away from (or in toward) the center of the original shape.

    • To shrink the element as you skew it, move the selected side handle toward the element's center.
  5. Release the mouse button.

    Flash redraws the selection to fill the new transform-box shape.

To distort a graphic element symmetrically:

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 of the preceding task to prepare an element for distorting.
  2. To taper the element, do either of the following:
    • To make the top of the transform box narrower than the bottom, Shift-click and drag the top-right corner handle toward the top-left corner handle (Figure 4.37), or vice versa.
      Figure 4.37

      Figure 4.37 Using the Distort modifier of the free-transform tool, Shift-click and drag a corner handle to taper selected elements.

    • To make the top of the transform box wider than the bottom, Shift-click and drag the top-right corner handle away from the top-left corner handle, or vice versa.
    As you drag, the two corner handles move in tandem, coming together if you drag in or moving apart if you drag out.
  3. Release the mouse button.

    Flash redraws the transform box and its contents. If you dragged in, the box appears to taper toward the top. If you dragged out, the box appears to taper toward the bottom. You can follow these procedures for the sides or bottom of the bounding box to taper the box in any direction.

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