Creating Simple Shapes

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Welcome to Lesson 2. This lesson, we’ll be working with shapes. We’ll be using the tools located in the Tool Bar to create basic shapes. Then we’ll manipulate those shapes to create effects we’re looking for. This is a pretty easy lesson. We’ll only be using a few tools in the Tool Box to create our shapes; Rectangle Tool, Circle Tool, Polygon/Star Tool, and the Bezier Tool. Other than the Text Tool, we won’t be using the other tools in this class.

Tool Options

If you remember from the last lesson, we have the Options Bar across the top of the screen. This area changes, depending on which tool you have selected from the Tool Box. You’ll find many additional options for your tools so you can have greater control over your shapes. When working with a tool, be sure to check this section and see what options are available. There may be times when you change these options to create a certain effect, but when you try to make a simple shape again, it may inherit your previous options. Usually, the Options Bar will have a reset button to reset the values to default.

Rectangle Tool

Rounding the corners of a rectangle.

Rounding the corners of a rectangle.

Click the Rectangle Tool from the Tool Box, then on your work area, drag your mouse to create a rectangle. To create a perfect square, hold down the Ctrl button and drag.

After you created your square, you’ll notice a small square in the upper left corner and lower right corner. These are resizing nodes. With your Rectangle Tool still selected, click and drag on one of these nodes. You will notice it will resize your square along the X & Y axis. If you hold down the Ctrl button while dragging, you can constrain the aspect ratio and resize along the X & Y axis proportionally.

In the upper right corner of your rectangle, you’ll see a small circle. Click and drag this node. This will round the corners of your rectangle. This is a very handy feature that we’ll use a fair amount. It ads a softness to your patterns.

Resizing a rectangle.

Resizing a rectangle.

After creating a square, choose your Selector Tool from the Tool Box and click the rectangle you just created. You will see arrows on each corner pointed diagonally and arrows on the center of each side pointing in and out. These are resizing nodes. (If the arrows on the corner look like they’re curved, click the rectangle again to get to your sizing options) If you grab the corner node (diagonal arrows) and drag them out, you will notice that you resize the rectangle along the X & Y axis. This allows you the greatest freedom of resizing. If you hold down the Ctrl button while resizing, this will constrain the aspect ratio, which enlarges the X & Y axis proportionally.

The arrows on the center of each side will only resize the rectangle along that axis. This is a great way to elongate one side without effecting the other side.

Rotating a rectangle.

Rotating a rectangle.

Click your rectangle again. Now you’ll see curved arrows on each of the corners and arrows on the center of each side that are parallel to the side. We are now in Rotation and Skewing mode.

Click and drag the curved arrows in the corner. You’ll notice that you’re rotating your rectangle. If you wish to constrain the rotation to 15 degree increments, hold down the Ctrl key. This is very useful if you want to change the rotation to a common angle like 45 degrees or 90 degrees.

Lets move to the center of your rectangle. You’ll notice a + that looks like a cross hair. This is your rotation’s center point. By default, it starts in the center. However, we can move this crosshair to anyplace you’d like. Click and drag the cross hair outside the rectangle, then rotate the rectangle. You’ll notice the rectangle now rotates around this new point. This is a very useful option, especially when you want to duplicate a pattern that radiates out from a common center point.

Skewing a rectangle.

Skewing a rectangle.

Now, lets return to the arrows on the center of each side of your rectangle. These are skewing nodes. Click and drag these arrows and you’ll notice the rectangle becomes skewed. It will keep the edge parallel to the original, but move the corner up and down equally along both edges. This allows you to modify your shape in a symmetrical way without any advanced editing. Using a combination of rotation and skewing, you can come up with a lot of unique shapes.

Circle Tool

Scaling a circle.

Scaling a circle.

The Circle Tool works much the same way as the Rectangle Tool. Click and drag to make an ellipse. To create a perfect circle, hold down the Ctrl button and drag.

Choose your Selector Tool from the Tool Box. Click the circle to get your resizing nodes. This works the same way the Rectangle Tool works. You have the arrows in the corners that will enlarge the X & Y axis. To constrain the aspect ratio, hold down the Ctrl button. The center arrows will resize only along the chosen axis.

Rotating a circle.

Rotating a circle.

Skewing a circle.

Skewing a circle.

Click the circle again to get your Rotation and Transformation options. Again, this works the same way the Rectangle Tool works. The curved arrows in the corner allow you to rotate an object. Hold down the Ctrl button to constrain the rotation to 15 degree increments. The center cross hairs can be moved to change the rotation center point. The arrows in the center of each side of you selection will allow you to skew your circle.

Circle options.

Circle options.

Partial circle.

Partial circle.

Lets go back to the Circle Tool. Select the Circle Tool from the Tool Box and select the circle you’ve been working with. You will see two small squares along the edge of your circle. Just like the Rectangle Tool, these allow you to scale the object. You’ll also notice a small circle on the edge of your drawn circle. By clicking and dragging this circle, you can make a partial circle. With the options in your Options Bar, you can choose if it will make a partial circle, or a pie-shaped circle. The pie-shaped circle will use the natural center point of the circle to make it’s pie shape. Now here’s a trick to switch between a partial circle and a pie shaped circle. When you’re dragging, the circle node that’s being manipulated (highlighted in blue, you can control whether it’s a partial circle or pie-shaped circle by dragging your mouse through the blue node. This will toggle between the two options. Also note, if you’re trying to draw a new circle, but it’s coming up as a partial or pie-shaped circle, you can click the button in the Options Bar to make it a full circle.

Polygon/Star Tool

Scaling a star/polygon.

Scaling a star/polygon.

The Polygon/Star Tool works much the same way as the Rectangle Tool. Click and drag to create a polygon or star. You’ll notice that you can’t make a polygon/star elongated. By definition, polygons are symmetrical. If you wish to elongate an axis, you must resize it using the Selector Tool.

Choose your selector tool from the Tool Box and click your polygon/star. You will receive the same resizing options as the Rectangle Tool. You have the arrows in the corners that will enlarge the X & Y axis. To constrain the aspect ratio, hold down the Ctrl button. The center arrows will resize only along the chosen axis.

Rotating a star/polygon.

Rotating a star/polygon.

Skewing a star/polygon.

Skewing a star/polygon.

Click the polygon/star again to get your Rotation and Transformation options. Again, this works the same way the Rectangle Tool works. The curved arrows in the corner allow you to rotate an object. Hold down the Ctrl button to constrain the rotation to 15 degree increments. The center cross hairs can be moved to change the rotation center point. The arrows in the center of each side of you selection will allow you to skew your circle.

Select the Polygon/Star Tool from the Tool Box and select your polygon/star. You can choose whether the shape you drawn is represented by a polygon or star by selecting the appropriate icon the option in the Options Bar. If the polygon option is selected, you’ll notice a single square node on the edge of your polygon. This is a resizing node and will resize the polygon proportionally along the X & Y axis.

Star/polygon nodes.

Star/polygon nodes.

If the star option is selected, you’ll see two squares along the edge of the star. The square on the outside corner is a resizing node and will resize the star proportionally along the X & Y axis. There’s also an inside square. This node will change the sharpness of the star. You can also add a skewed spiral to the star as well by moving the node off center. Holding down the Ctrl button will keep this node centered between the outside points, thereby making a perfect star.

Star/polygon options.

Star/polygon options.

You’ll also notice in the Tool Options that you can choose how many corners your polygon/star has. You can also round the corners of your polygon/stars here. There is also a randomization option, while not having much practical use, is kind fun to play with. Lastly, there’s an icon to set your polygons/stars to the default setting.

Bezier Tool

Bezier lines and closed shape.

Bezier lines and closed shape.

The Bezier Tool is a unique one and I’ll only be covering the very basics in this lesson. We’ll really look at what it can do in Lesson 5. But for now, know it can create lines or shapes.

Select the Bezier Tool from the Tool Box. Click once in on your document and release (it is important that you don’t drag.). Then move your mouse to another location on your document and click again. This created a straight line from one point to the next, much like a dot-to-dot puzzle. Hit Enter on your keyboard, and now you have a straight line. We’ll learn to turn this straight line into a curved line in Lesson 5.

You can also create closed shapes. Click once in your document, then click somewhere else. Create 4 or 5 points, then return and click on the beginning point (it has a small square node at the beginning point). This will close the shape.

You’ll notice that this tool doesn’t have any options in the Options Bar.

This tool will be used to make line drawings, add detail, and create more complicated shapes later in the class.

Working With Color

Color options.

Color options.

Now that we are creating shapes, it is important to look at how to color these shapes. Coloring is a great organization tool to color-code shapes based on purpose. It also helps for illustration. But in the end, you’ll most likely use a gray interior with a black outline for easy cutting and making your pattern printer friendly.

To color a shape, simply choose your Selector Tool from the Tool Box, select your shape and click a color in the color palette. It is as easy as that.

To color the stroke (outline), right click on the color you wish to choose and select Set Stroke. You can also hold down the Shift key and click a color in the color palette.

To change the stroke width, right-click the number to the right of the Stroke color box (lower left corner of the screen). A pop-up menu will have a number of presets available.

Note that a single straight line is considered a stroke and is colored as such. However, curved lines can have a fill, which could cause problems later on. We’ll cover this topic later in the class. But be aware that lines made with the Bezier Tool may cause problems if a fill color is applied.

To remove the fill color or stroke color, right click on the Fill or Stroke boxes in the lower left corner of your screen and choose Remove Fill or Remove Stroke.

For better control over your color, click the color box next to the Fill or Stroke boxes in the lower left corner. This will pop up a docked dialog box. You have a number of options to choose from, including color selection preferences, opacity, and gradients. Since we don’t use color when creating scroll saw patterns, we won’t be covering these options in this class.

Duplicating

You’ll be duplicating shapes a lot. You’ll do this to make copies of a shape to use in a different part of your design, or you may duplicate an entire design as a backup copy, incase your experiments go terribly wrong.

Duplicating can be done in a couple of ways. You can copy and paste an object. Copy by going to Edit>Copy (or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C). Paste by going to Edit>Paste (or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+V).

You can also duplicate a object by going to Edit>Duplicate and a copy of your object is placed directly on top of your original. However, I prefer using the shortcut Ctrl+D for duplicate.

Selector Tool Options

Options with the selection tool.

Options with the selection tool.

With your Selector Tool active, click your object. On the right side of the Option Bar, you’ll see the Height and Width boxes (H and W) along with a pull-down menu that offers various measurement units. I’ll choose inches. You’ll notice that the height and width change to reflect the dimensions in inches. You can type in specific values in the height and width fields and it will change your object dimensions accordingly. You’ll use this a lot when creating scroll saw patterns, especially when size plays an important role. There is also a lock icon between the height and width fields. This will lock the aspect ratio. So whenever you scale the object (with either the height or width fields, or by using the resize nodes on the object), the resizing will occur equally along the X & Y axis.

Next to the height and width area, you’ll find an X & Y access fields. This is where your object appears in the X & Y coordinates of your document. This is represented in pixels and references to the bottom left corner of your object selection. You could use this for specific placement, but I find it much too cumbersome to use.

To the left of the X & Y coordinates, you’ll find quick layering tools. This is different from the Document Layers hinted to in the previous lesson. Rather this is the order of objects within the layer. We’ll be covering this in the next lesson, so we won’t dwell on that now.

Simple pattern using duplicate and flipping.

Simple pattern using duplicate and flipping.

To the left of the layers buttons is the flip and rotate options. This is very useful for flipping you objects. Select one of your shapes and choose either Flip Horizontally or Flip Vertically. When you combine this with duplicate, you can start to put together a nice symmetrical pattern. Try selecting an unusual shape. Then duplicate it (Ctrl+D). Then click the Flip Horizontally button in the Options Bar. Then move over your object to the right of the original object. Now you have a mirror image. Select you object again, duplicate, then lip vertically. Put that directly below your original object. Do the same for your first object. Now you can see that you have the beginnings of a pattern.

You can rotate an object 90 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise by using the Rotate buttons. However, I usually prefer using the rotation nodes on the object while holding down the Ctrl button.

Assignments:

  • We’ve learned how to use the basic shapes and how to manipulate them. Take a little time and play with these tools, rotate, resize, skew, duplicate, flip and whatever else catches your fancy. The more you play with this program, the quicker you’ll learn how the tools work with one another.

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