Let’s talk about a common design question. Say you have a design that’s a single piece, but you want to cut it from several different colors or materials. You want to break it apart into multiple pieces, like this–What about using the knife tool? It’s hard to work with and actually has width to it. That means it removes a small part of the design where it cuts. You could make copies and use the eraser, but that’s slow and not super accurate. Point editing could help, but it’s a lot of work. There’s a MUCH better way hiding in the depths of the Modify panel: Divide. Divide is one of the Modify options that intimidates people, because they aren’t sure what it does. Let me unlock the mystery for you and show you how this can help with exactly the kind of design dilemma we’re talking about.
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What is divide?
Any of the Modify options take 2 or more shapes that are overlapping and make new shapes based on those overlapping areas. Most of you are probably familiar with welding. That takes multiple overlapping shapes and makes them a single shape, erasing all overlapping lines.
Divide is the Modify option to use when you want to take a whole and separate it into parts — just like with math. It takes the overlapping areas of up to 16 shapes and creates a separate piece for each area. Everywhere the line of one shape crosses another, it cuts it like a knife.
Let’s start by looking at what it does with just 2 simple shapes — a square and circle.
Notice that they are filled with different colors. I have also raised the transparency to about 35% so you can see through the top one to the back one. This is the way I always work with shapes when using the Modify options. It helps you see order and visualize the outcome before you perform the action.
We can see 3 colors — purple, blue, and bluish purple. When I do Divide, each of those colors becomes a piece.
What if we have more shapes? Let’s try it with 4 different shapes.
Once again notice all the color mixes. Each one is going to be a separate shape when I divide.
So how does that help with my solid shape?
When we’ve got a solid shape that we’re wanting to separate into pieces, Divide is the super hero swooping in to save the day. Let’s see how it works.
Step 1 — Start with a solid shape
Here’s the baby stroller that’s a free shape with the Cameo 3. It’s a solid shape. If you’re adding this from you library, you’ll notice some small ovals at the front right. They are actually just grouped with the buggy. I deleted them for this demonstration. I want to cut the buggy, shade, wheels and axles from different papers for a card I’m making. I’m going to use the original shape as a base to glue the other pieces onto, so I made a copy of it first.
Step 2 — Draw shapes to act as dividers
What I’m going to do is draw shapes whose edges will cross the stroller right where I want to separate it.
- The pink circle will separate the bed from the axles.
- The yellow rectangle will separate the shade from the rest of the bed.
- The gray circles will separate the wheels from the axles.
Step 3 — Divide
I select all the pieces and then choose Divide in the Modify panel. Let me give you fair warning: if the processor speed on your computer is slow (less than 2Ghz), this could take several minutes. The more pieces there are, the longer it will take. Just be patient and let it do its work. Or just do 2 pieces at a time. If you try to do more than the limit of 16, the software gives you a message reminding you that you can’t do that.
Once the processing is done, it looks like this.
Step 4 — Delete what you don’t need
I then delete the pieces of the pink, yellow and gray that fall outside the stroller. Here are the pieces I created.
Here I’ve move them a bit so you can see they are all now separate.
Step 5 — Clean up as needed
Before cutting, zoom in closely to make sure the pieces look right. Use point editing to tweak any parts that need it.
Step 6 — Create an amazing project
Because I used that original stroller as a base piece and layered the other pieces on top, I actually didn’t need the axle pieces (the blue) that I created. Here’s a card I made with this design.
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