Combining and Clipping Shapes

To clip a shape with part of another shape, combine shapes into a single object, and more.

To Intersect Two Shapes:


The Intersect command clips the bottom shape to the intersecting area of the top shape, resulting in a new shape. The new shape adopts the style of the (lower) object being intersected.

  1. Select two shapes to be intersected.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Intersect from the main menu.
  • Click the Intersect icon on the toolbar.
  • Use the Shift-Command-I keyboard shortcut.

HINT: Unexpected results may occasionally occur, particularly when the edges of objects are exactly aligned and the algorithm to combine them gets confused. Hold the Option-key while using any of the ‘Combine’ commands to apply an alternate algorithm and obtain the expected results.

To Combine Shapes with Union:


Union unites two or more shapes into a single shape object. The new shape adopts the style of the top object in the selection.

  1. Select the shapes to be combined.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Union from the main menu.
  • Click the Union icon on the toolbar.
  • Use the Shift-Command-U keyboard shortcut.

To Subtract Shapes With Difference:


Use Difference to subtract a portion of one shape (the top shape) from another (bottom) shape. The remaining shape maintains its original style.

  1. Select the two overlapping shapes to be subtracted from each other.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Difference from the main menu.
  • Click the Difference icon on the toolbar.
  • Use the Shift-Command-D keyboard shortcut.

To Append Shapes Together:


Combining like objects into single shapes can make your drawing more efficient. The Append command combines multiple shapes into a single shape object, with overlapping areas excluded from the new shape. Objects do not need to overlap to be appended together. Append is also appropriate for open paths, whereas the other ‘Combine’ operations work only with closed paths. Using Union, Intersection or Difference with an open path produces undefined results (though Undo works to correct any unexpected outcomes).

The new shape adopts the style of the top object in the selection.

  1. Select two or more shapes to be appended.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Append from the main menu.
  • Click the Append icon on the toolbar.
  • Use the Shift-Command-M keyboard shortcut.

To Break Shapes Apart:


Objects that have been appended together may be broken apart into their separate components.

  1. Choose Graphic > Combine > Break Apart from the main menu.

To Use Cookie Cutter:


The Cookie Cutter is a valuable command for dividing shapes into separate objects. All selected shapes that are intersected by the “cutter” (the top selected shape) are sectioned using both intersection and difference operations. The cutter is removed and the remaining pieces left in place. The new shapes keep their original style or styles and any existing attribution information.

  1. Select the shapes to be intersected by the top cutter shape.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Graphic > Combine > Cookie Cutter from the main menu.
  • Alternatively, customize the toolbar by adding the Cookie Cutter icon to it for quick access.

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:

  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:


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:


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 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.

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