So far in our series on Point Editing in Silhouette Studio, we’ve learned some general information about point and how to select and move them. If you need to start at the beginning, you’ll find Lesson 1 here. In this lesson, I’m going to teach you about adding points and deleting points. As always, I’ll go over the information and then show you a video of the process.
Tutorial level: Intermediate to Advanced
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Adding points in your design gives you more flexibility to shape your design the way you want it because you can create smaller line segments. More line segments = greater control over the contours of the shape. You can add in completely new parts on a shape. It also means you can change the trajectories of the lines because you can put in a corner where you don’t have one. You will normally be adding multiple points on a design, but you can only do 1 at a time.
To add a point, hover over a line of an image where there is not a point.
Watch for the mouse cursor change to Point Create. Be careful, because it’s really small. Remember: it looks similar to Point Select, but the Point Create does not have the black box on the line because there is no point there. Here’s an enlarged pic of the Point Create icon along the line segment.
Click along the line segment and you create a new point.
Adding points: An example
Here I’ve got an anchor. It’s a cool shape, but I don’t like how the ends are flat. I’d rather have them pointy. Adding points and moving them a bit allows me to do that.
I add a point in the middle of each of those line segments.
My anchor is very symmetrical so I want my pointy ends to match one another. I can select them both as we learned in Lesson 1, then use the arrow keys on my computer keyboard to them straight up together.
Adding Points: Another example
Let’s add whiskers on this cat face.
Here’s what the points look like right now.
I’m going to add points along these line segments.
I’ve added 5 points on each.
Why 5? I’m going to pull some of the points away from the cat head for 2 whiskers on each side. I know I need 3 for each whisker — 1 for the point I pull out, and 2 more — one on each side of the first one — to “anchor” it to the head. They can share the anchor point in the middle. Here I’ve labeled them.
- top anchor point for whisker 1
- pull point for whisker 1
- bottom anchor point for whisker 1 & top anchor point for whisker 2
- pull point for whisker 2
- bottom anchor point for whisker 2
I pull points 2 and 4 out to create peaks. I do them individually with the drag method this time to experiment with different angles and distances.
Repeat on the other side and our cat has whiskers.
If I only put 2 points on each side and pull them out instead of adding anchor points, I get this:
When altering shapes like this, you’ve got to think in 2 dimensions. Adding and pulling just 1 point out only accounts for 1 dimension — a line or length. Each whisker needs 2 dimensions — both length and width. By creating the anchor points, I’m creating corners so that I can make the line change trajectory, go to a new point (the end of the whisker), change again and go back to main head of the cat.
Each design is different, so just play around to see what you need to do. The more you do, the more you’ll know what to do.
Things to know about adding points
- An added point is always a smooth point. You’re putting it on an existing line segment, and a single line segment in a vector file can’t go in 2 different trajectories at the same time. It’s just not possible. If the contour of the shape is going to go in a different direction, there would already be a corner point there.
- Once you’ve added that smooth point, you can turn it into a corner point if you want. I’ll show you that in the next lesson.
- If you add a point along a flat segment, the segments on either side of the point are flat. Remember that the blue Bezier Control Handles show you whether or not you have curved segments. No blue boxes = no curves.
- If you add a point along a curved segment, the segments on either side are curved.
What if you have a flat segment and want a curved one or vice versa? Ah, you’re getting ahead of me. That’s in the next lesson.
Not only can you add points, you can also delete them.
Deleting points simply means removing some. This helps you–
- Alter the contours on a design.
- Smooth out lines, particularly on a trace of a low-resolution image. If the software can’t find a clean edge to trace, it must create extra points along the fuzzy edges.
- Quickly remove unwanted portions of your design. For example, if you can’t get a good trace on an image without flecks in the middle, you can remove them with point editing. (I prefer releasing the compound path and just deleting unwanted sections, but you can do it this way).
- Reduce the processing time for working on or cutting the design. More points = more to process = more time.
There are 2 ways to delete a selected point–
- Select “Delete Point” in the Point Editing panel, right click menu or Quick Access Toolbar. The icon for this is an “x” indicating you are removing something.
- Hit the Delete key on your keyboard. This is new to version 4 and is a big help. In older versions of the software, hitting Delete while in Point Editing mode deleted the entire design. You do NOT want to use the scissors icon (cut) in the upper left or the keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD + x. Cut is different than delete. It removes the entire image, not just the selected point.
Once a point is deleted, the selection moves to the next point. This is useful for deleting several points in a row. Just keep clicking — every click removes 1 point. Be careful to observe the direction it’s going around the shape. Also be aware that the software usually moves slower than your click, so you may accidentally delete points you want to keep. If you do, undo is your best friend (as if it wasn’t already).
Just as you can move multiple points simultaneously, you can delete them at the same time. It works the same way. Select the points using the SHIFT key while selecting one by one, or grab a group of consecutive points by dragging a selection box around them. Select Delete in one of your 3 places in the software or hit Delete on your computer keyboard. Away they go.
Deleting Points: An example
Here’s a simple sun shape.
Let’s say that instead of the square ends, I want sharp peaks. I can do that if I eliminate 1 point from each sunburst end. I’ve highlighted them here.
Since I can delete multiple points at the same time, I’m going to hold my shift key as I select those points individually. Here they are all selected. It’s a bit hard to see, but each point has 1 blue control handle indicating that the line segment coming into it on that side is curved. I’ve pulled one of them out on the right side so that you can see it better. I also want you to notice the line segments in red.
Then I just hit my delete key on my computer keyboard. Here’s the result.
OOH — isn’t that fun? I’ve got a completely new look.
But why does each sunbeam have 1 curved segment and 1 flat? (Again, notice just 1 blue control handle). That’s why I told you to observe the line segments in red when I had all the points selected. When you delete a point, you are getting rid of one end of a selected line segment — the beginning. The segment now runs between the points that were on either side of our deleted point. The resulting new segment retains the properties of the original segment (so a curved one here). In our example, it’s now a curve between the endpoint of the sunbeam and the anchor point on the ball of the sun.
Variations on a theme
If I’d done the other point on the ends of the beams (so the left ones)…
…I’d get a different look like this–
Notice how the beams now have 2 flatter-looking segments. That’s because when I deleted my points, the line segments associated with them were flat. So, the new line segments are flatter. (They aren’t completely flat, but we’ll learn more about that next time).
Suppose I didn’t like how the beams are angled off the ball of the sun? Since we learned in Lesson 2 how to move points, I could move the points on the ends of the beams. Here I’ve done half of them.
What if I want both line segments of each beam to be flat so my sunbeams are sharp and crisp instead of having 1 partially curved? Don’t worry, we’ll get there in our next lesson.
Deleting points: Another example
Let’s look at another shape where we might want to remove points to change what that shape looks like. Let’s go back to our Christmas ornament from Lesson 1.
That’s lovely at Christmas time, but I can get more use out of it by turning it into something else. I see a bomb shape. (You never know when you need one of those). If I delete the points that make the hook and elongate the stem, I can do that.
Here are the points I’m going to delete.
And here I’ve done that.
Now I’ve elongated the stem a bit and scooted it to the right.
What if you want a curvy fuse on the end? In that case, you’d need to alter the curves some. I’ll show you that in a later lesson.
Deleting points: Yet another example
Here’s a shape I got when I traced a low resolution image. This is an extreme example, but notice how many points there are.
I’ve highlighted here some areas where the lines are bumpy. Notice there are several points close together that aren’t following a nice, even curve.
I’m going to delete some of those extra points to smooth those areas out. (Using the Simplify may also help with this — it just depends on the design).
We’re also going to have an entire lesson on adjusting curves. That would help me make this even better.
Okay, here’s a video clip showing you all about adding and deleting points.
Are you learning a lot about point editing? I hope so. In Lesson 4, I’ll show you how to make a flat segment become a curved one and vice versa. We’ll also learn how to turn a smooth point into a corner and a corner into a smooth and why that’s important.