This lesson in our series on Point Editing is part 2 of a tutorial on altering line segment types and point types. (To start with Lesson 1 in this series, go here.) In part 1, we talked about the concepts in general. This time, I’ll show you how I’ve altered the look of some real designs with point editing. We’ll go from simple to more complex with smooth vs. corner points and flat vs. curved line segments.
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Here’s a gift tag with a sharp corner at the top.
Let’s say we want it to be rounded on the top instead. That point at the top of the peak is a corner.
First, I click on Smooth. Since neither of the segments leading up to it is a curve, it won’t look like anything has happened, but remember that it has. So now when I choose Make Curve, I get this:
It looks kinda funny, because that left segment isn’t playing nice yet. The point on the left corner says that segment is flat, while the point at the peak says it’s a curve. Once I tell that left point to Make Curve also, I have a much nicer continuous curve.
Our sun revisited
In our lesson on deleting points, we were working with this sun.
After deleting some of the points on the end of the beams, we had beams with 1 flat segment and 1 curved segment.
I promised you in this lesson we’d learn how to make those beams nice and flat on each side. What I need to do is select the point on each beam that’s going to highlight the curved segment.
Notice there isn’t a control handle going along the segment from the point, even though the segment is obviously curved. This is that special circumstance I explained. But our solution would work with or without that control handle, which fits with our explanation.
I selected the points that highlighted all those curved line segments and then chose Make Flat. I’ve also moved half of them, those on the right side, so that my sun shape is more symmetrical.
Our traced word revisited
Let’s look at how altering line segments and point types can help clean up a traced image. We’ll go back to the word I showed you earlier focusing in on the 2 “t”s.
See how they look different? That’s why it’s better to type out a word instead of trace it — you always get a better result. But sometimes you don’t have a choice.
HINT: If you’ve traced a large, complex image, you’ll probably have many points. That means it can take a longer time to process, which can slow down your point editing. Release the compound path in order to work on a smaller section. Remake the compound path when you’re done point editing.
Look first at the tops of the letters. The top line segment on the left “t” is curvy because it’s a smooth point along a curve. The one on the right is flat. That right one has to be a corner, because the segments coming off of it change trajectory.
First, I’ll make the highlighted line segment of the point I’ve selected on the left one into a flat.
Notice what happened to the point type. It turned into a corner automatically because it’s connecting a flat and a curved segment. It had to because it’s not a continuous curve or straight line on either side of that point.
Now I’m going to select a different point along the side of the left “t.” It’s a corner, but the segment is curved.
First, I’ll choose Make Flat.
Then delete that point.
And finally scoot the top left point over and down a bit. Then that section of the 2 “t”s will match better.
Just a start
That’s only 1 section of one letter, so you can see why it’s preferable to just be able to type out your words. Doing it this way is a lot of work with a wide variety of steps needed. But when you don’t have any other option, point editing is a huge help. Here are my 2 “t”s in their original traced form and cleaned up with point editing.
Our cat revisited
Remember how we created whiskers on this cat in Lesson 3?
Let’s say we wanted those whiskers to be curved instead of flat on the sides. Now we know how to do that. Let’s look at a few variations.
From flat segment to curved segment
We can start by selecting a point that highlights a side segment of the whisker and choosing Make Curve.
If I did them all the same way, I’d get this:
Well, that’s okay. But notice that the segments where the whiskers meet the head curved also. Why? Because when we added those points, they were automatically smooth points. All added points are. And what is a smooth point? One along a continuous curve or flat trajectory. When you combine smooth points with the command Make Curve, you get continuous curves segments on each side of the points.
Here’s the implication of that. If I want to tweak the curves, those control points are going to move in tandem. That means at the base or point of any whisker, when I move the control handle the other is going to move also. That limits me in some ways, because it’s harder to get a sharpish curve, or to have the curve off the point go in different directions.
From smooth point to corner point
So let’s change those smooth points — the ones we added to create the whisker — to corner points. When you do, it’s not going to look like anything happened. But trust me, it did. In our next lesson we’ll now be able to adjust the curve on each side of the point independently. Here’s a sneak peek. Notice that now I’ve been able to get rounded ends and curves that go in different trajectories and in different amounts off my points.
There’s still one problem. Because I made the curves first, notice that at the sides of the head above and below where the whiskers start, what was originally a flat side is now curved. Why? Because I changed my flat segments to curves before I changed my smooths to corners. That means those flat segments had to become part of the curve.
So let’s start again completely. This time, before we make the curves let’s change some of those smooth points to corners before we change the flats to curves. In other words, we’re flipping the order of operations.
Here’s my original cat. I’m going to change just the points that come off those flat segments. I’ve highlighted them here. It’s the first and last anchor point on each side.
There’s no visible difference yet. But when I then change the flat segments to curves, the sides of the head stay flat.
One thing to be aware of here. If you make 2 consecutive line segments into curves, the point that connects them automatically changes to a smooth even if it was a corner before. It’s okay because you can always just change it back to a corner.
Our anchor revisited
Here’s our anchor shape again. In a previous lesson, we changed the flat ends to sharp peaks by adding and moving a point on each.
Those added points are smooth points, because any added point is. I mentioned that they would effectively act like a corner as soon as we moved them, because the line segments coming off them follow different trajectories. I’m going to do different things to the left and right ones so that you can easily see why that matters.
On the left one, I’m going to choose Make Curve. For the one on the right, I’ll make it a corner first, then choose Make Curve. Here’s the result:
Ugh! I’m guessing that’s not what you’d want either. Why did that happen? It’s because when I made the segments highlighted with my added points into curves — as a smooth or a corner — the line segments that were flat had to become part of a continuous curve with the sides of the anchor. That happens even though those points are corners.
A softly curving peak
Let’s start over and I’ll show you a trick to keeping the curves on the sides intact. Besides adding just the point along the middle of the line segments, I’m going to add 2 more on each segment. The new points are close to each end of the segments coming off the peaked point.
Let’s look on the left side at my original added point — the one we’re going to leave as a smooth. Next, I choose that point and then Make Curve. Here’s what I have now:
That’s closer to what I’m looking for, but let’s tweak it a bit more. This sounds crazy, but what we’re going to do is delete those extra added points. When I do, I have this:
Why did that work? Because I established the curves off that original peak point without them being tied to the points on the sides. That kept the curves on the side the same. Now I have a softly curving peak.
A sharp peak with curved segments leading to it
What if I want that peak to be sharp but the line segments still curved? Over on the right side, let’s start by following the same steps–
- make curve
- delete extra points
But we’re going to add 1 more–
- turn that smooth point into a corner point
Now I can alter the curves on each side of the point independently. (Don’t forget — that’s what we’ll do in the next lesson.) Here’s what it looks like:
Got it all?
Oh my word, that’s enough to make your brain tired! Don’t worry – you aren’t the only one. You’re not going to remember every single bit of this information — even I don’t without a cheat sheet. But I wanted to cover segment type and point types in the same lesson because you have to understand how they work together.
Since every design is different, you’ll need to use a variety of techniques to alter each one. Here are the main ideas to remember:
- Always pay attention to the properties of the highlighted segment when you select a point. Is it a flat or curve? Is the selected point the beginning or end of the segment?
- The type of point you have always makes a difference, so learn to check for that. Is it a corner or a smooth?
- Blue control handles that alter curves work differently on a smooth vs. a corner point.
- Sometimes you can’t easily tell if a line segment really is curved or flat. Look for the blue boxes, or check the right click menu.
- Often, the order in which you makes changes affects the outcome.
- If a point on one end a line segment indicates it’s curved (blue box present) but the point on the other end doesn’t have a blue control handle, you have that oddball circumstance. Select the latter point and then Make Curve so that you can alter the curve from each end of the segment.
- When you’re doing point editing and are wondering why something isn’t working as you expected, or how to edit a point in a specific way, come back to this series of posts for reference.
Next time, we’ll talk about how you change the shape of your curves with those blue control handles. THAT is tons of fun!
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