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Path and Curve Tools

Draw straight and curved paths in Artboard. Bezier paths and freehand paths contain curve handles at points along the path. Drawing with the Freehand Path tool is much like drawing with a pen, whereas Bezier paths give you absolute control.

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Drawing Paths and Curves

Bezier paths and freehand paths contain curve handles at points along the path. Drawing with the Freehand Path tool is much like drawing with a pen, whereas Bezier paths give you absolute control.

Bezier curves offer some of the greatest flexibility when drawing. However, it may be the least familiar tool to some users. A hands-on exercise is available in File > New From Template > Exercises & Demos to help you quickly master the Bezier Path tool.

To Draw a Bezier Path:

To_Draw_a_Bezier_Path.png
  1. Choose the Bezier Path [b] tool.
  2. Press to place the starting point and drag to begin spreading the curve handles. release the cursor to place the curve handles (when placed, curve handles are symmetrical in length and direction).
  3. Repeat to continue drawing the path.
  4. Use the ESC-key or double-click to end the path.

To Draw a Freehand Path:

  1. Choose the Freehand Path [f] tool.
  2. Press and move the cursor to begin drawing.
  3. Release the cursor to end the path.

HINT: Hold down the Option-key while drawing with this tool to enable ‘Ultra Fine’ drawing mode for detailed drawing with the Freehand Path tool (for example, while zoomed-in).

To make the smoothest paths with the Freehand Path, make sure the Graphic > Snap To… settings are all disabled (unchecked). If a path drawn with the Freehand Path tool appears choppy or ‘stair stepped’, it is likely that snapping to Graph Paper, Guides, or Other Objects is on. Relative smoothness settings for the Freehand Path tool are available in the (app) > Preferences… Editing.

To Draw a Straight Line:

  1. Choose the straight Line [l] tool.
  2. Click to place the first point.
  3. Optionally, press the Shift-key to draw a perfectly horizontal or vertical line, or constrain the line angle to 15-degree increments.
  4. Click to place the last point and end the line.

To Place a Point without a Curve (Bezier Path):

  1. Choose the Bezier Path [b] tool.
  2. Click once to place a point with its curve handles collapsed (for example, a corner).
  3. Repeat to continue drawing the path, dragging to spread handles or clicking for points with collapsed handles.
  4. Use the ESC-key or double-click to end the path.

To Remove the Last Placed Point on a Path While Drawing:

  1. Choose the Bezier Path [b] or Irregular Polygon [p] tool.
  2. Begin drawing the path.
  3. Click the Delete-key to step backwards each placed point while drawing the path.
  4. Use the ESC-key or double-click to end the path.

To Draw a Closed-Loop Path:

  1. Choose the Irregular Polygon [p], Bezier Path [b] or Freehand Path [f] tool.
  2. Place at least 3 points to begin drawing the path.
  3. Click onto the first drawn point to automatically end drawing the path; the coincident points will act as a single point.

HINT: If you prefer to have paths formally closed (with a straight line segment between first and last points), you can enable this behavior in the (app) > Preferences… > Editing in the main menu; to open formally closed paths, right-click and choose “Open” from the contextual menu or Edit > Paths (+Option-key) > Open from the main menu.
HINT: If you prefer coincident first and last placed points to not act as a single point, you can disable this behavior in the Preferences.

To Add Points to a Path:

To_Add_Points_to_a_Path.png
  1. Choose the Add Point on Path [=] tool.
  2. Click onto the path where the point is to be added.

HINT: As needed, double-click a shape to convert it to edit path mode to show points.

To Delete Points from a Path:

  1. With the path selected, choose the Delete Point on Path [-] tool.
  2. Click on the point(s) that is to be removed

To Edit Paths After They are Drawn:

To_Edit_Paths_After_They_are_Drawn.png

Curves are easily adjusted after placement by dragging the curve handles, shown in blue. When adjusting curve handles, the length of the left and right ends of the handle are adjusted independently. Modifier keys provide control over curve handle adjustments.

SHORTCUTS AND MODIFIER KEYS:

To modify a path after it has been drawn, choose the Select [s] tool and select the path, then:

  • Move a point along a path – press and drag the point with the cursor.
  • Drag a handle away from its point, or to adjust curve handles independently of each other, including length and direction – hold the CMND-key while adjusting the curve handles
  • Keep the length of the curve handles symmetrical to each other when making adjustments – hold the ALT/OPTION-key while adjusting the curve handles
  • Temporarily toggle snapping to grid or guides while adjusting curve handles – hold the CTRL-key after clicking on the handle
  • Constrain curve handles’ angle to 15-degree increments – hold the SHIFT-key while adjusting a curve handle
  • “Nudge” one or more points or curve handles – select the points and move with the keyboard arrow-keys (nudge will move in increments based on your drawing units and graph paper settings)
  • Open a closed path, hold the CMND-key and drag the end point away from the start point; alternatively, right-click the path and choose “Open Path” from the contextual menu; or use the Cut Path [u] tool
  • Don’t forget, you can also use the Add Point on Path [+], Delete Point on Path [-], and Cut Path [u] tools :)

To Expand Curve Handles on a Path:

To_Expand_Curve_Handles_on_a_Path.png

Do one of the following:

  • Choose the Select [s] tool and select the path, while holding the CMND-key, press and drag the each curve handle outward from the point with collapsed handles.
  • Choose the Select [s] tool and select the path, while holding the Option-CMND keys, press and drag the both curve handles symmetrically away from the point with collapsed handles.
  • With the path to be edited selected, right-click the path and choose ‘Select All Handles’, then right-click again and choose ‘Expand Handles’ from the contextual menu.
  • With the path to be edited selected, choose Edit > Path > Select All Handles, then Edit > Path > Expand Handles from the main menu.

HINT: Any object, once converted to a path, can have its curve handles expanded.

To Collapse Curve Handles on a Path:

Do one of the following:

  • Choose the Select [s] tool and select the path, click to select a single handle to be collapsed, then right-click the path and choose ‘Collapse Handles’ from the contextual menu.
  • Choose the Select [s] tool and select the path, click to select a single handle to be collapsed, then Edit > Path > Collapse Handles from the main menu.
  • Choose the Select [s] tool and select the path, hold the Shift-key and click to select multiple handles to be collapsed, then right-click the path and choose ‘Collapse Handles’ from the contextual menu.
  • Choose the Select [s] tool and select the path, hold the Shift-key and click to select multiple handles to be collapsed, then Edit > Path > Collapse Handles from the main menu.
  • With the path to be edited selected, right-click the path and choose ‘Select All Handles’, then right-click again and choose ‘Collapse Handles’ from the contextual menu.
  • With the path to be edited selected, choose Edit > Path > Select All Handles, then Edit > Path > Collapse Handles from the main menu.

To Cut and Join Paths:

To_Cut_and_Join_Paths.png

Do one of the following:

  • To cut a path into two sections, use the Cut Path [u] tool and click onto the path at the location of the cut, or use a cutting motion with the tool.
  • To join two paths into one path, move the endpoints close together then choose the Edit > Paths > Join (CMND-J keyboard shortcut) from the main menu.

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Text Labeling Area Features

Shape objects accept labels in much the same way as point features. Simple shapes and shapes from imported shapefiles support labeling.

To Add Labels to Shapes:

To_Add_Labels_to_Shapes.png
  1. Choose the Select [s] tool and select a shape.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Right click the shape and choose ‘New Label’ from the contextual menu. A label is placed at the visual center of the shape.
  • Choose Edit > Labels & Text > New Label from the main menu.

3. The label content will use attribute information if an intelligent label tag has been defined. Alternatively, double-click the label to type free-text.

HINT: Labels support multi-line text. Press Option-Return or Shift-Return on the keyboard to manually insert a line break.

HINT: Special shapes, such as regular polygons and rounded-rectangles, and area features created from paths, such as irregular polygon, must be converted to shapes before they will accept a label. Choose Graphic > Convert To > Shape from the main menu, or right-click the object and choose ‘Convert To Shape’ from the object’s contextual menu.

To Use Just-Right Positioning of Area Feature Labels:

To_Use_Just-Right_Positioning_of_Area_Feature_Labels.png

By default, labels are placed in the visual center of area features. The visual center provides for best placement when an area is irregular shaped. For example, the geometric center for Scotland is in water, the visually center places the label more where you would expect it.

  • Using the Select [s] tool, drag a label around the feature to move it. Labels subtly shift into ten standard click positions similar to labels on point features – eight positions around the shape, the geometric center point, and the visual center (which may be very close or the same as the geometric center).
  • Rotate a label by dragging its rotation handle. Hold the Shift-key while rotating to snap the angle to 15-degree increments.
  • To have full placement control while moving a label, hold the Shift-key and drag the label into the desired position. Like labeling other object types, it is easy to style a label then copy and paste it onto other objects. When a label is copied and pasted to other objects, its positioning, content, and text style properties are maintained.

HINT: Depending on a map’s scale, areas can represent point-like objects such as cities or islands. Move the label into an outside position in these cases.

To Spread (Tracking) Labels Across Area Features:

To_Spread__Tracking__Labels_Across_Area_Features.png

Text can be spread out across and area (called “tracking”).

  1. Choose the Select [s] tool and select the label text for editing.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Hold the Option-Control keys and repeatedly press the right-Arrow (end) key to widen (loosen) the spread, or the left-Arrow key to tighten the spread.
  • Choose Text > Kern > Loosen (or Tighten) from the main menu.

3. Repeat as necessary to get the desired spread.

HINT: Text > Kern > Loosen (or Tighten) is also used to add or delete space (or “kerning”) between two or more selected glyphs.

To Place Curved Text Across Area Features

To_Place_Curved_Text_Across_Area_Features.png

To create curved text for objects that span large areas, use the Text On Path [e] tool. Alternatively, you can convert a label to text on path with the following steps.

  1. Place a label on a shape.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Right-click the label and choose ‘Detach From Feature’ from the contextual menu. Note, the label will be completely detached from the feature and its attributes.
  • Select the label(s) and choose Edit > Labels & Text > Detach From Feature in the main menu.

3. Select and convert the text to ‘text on a path’ by right-clicking and choosing ‘Convert to > Text On Path’ or choose Graphic > Convert To > Text On Path from the main menu.
4. Move the text path end points and curve handles into proper position.
5. Text alignment should be “justified” to spread text across the path. As necessary, do one of the following:

  • Double-click the text for editing and click the ‘Justified’ text alignment icon in the format bar.
  • Choose Text > Justify from the main menu.
  • Open the Object Inspector’s Features pane and click the ‘Justified’ text alignment icon.

To Make Label Text Bigger, Smaller, Bold, Italic, Underline:

  1. Place a label on a shape.
  2. Select the text label.
  3. Do one of the following:
  • Open the Fonts palette and modify the text properties
  • Choose various Text > properties in the main menu.
  • Use shortcut keys to quickly modify label text properties. For example, Command- – and Command- = quickly make label text smaller or bigger.
  • Double-click the text for editing and choose text properties form the format bar.