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Chapter 4. Working with Vectors > Aligning and Stacking Objects

Aligning and Stacking Objects

Under the Modify menu, there are options for Alter Path, Arrange, Align, and Transform. All these options give you additional flexibility and power for manipulating vector objects in Fireworks.

With the align commands, you can align objects to other objects along a vertical or horizontal axis. You can also align selected objects vertically along their left edge, right edge, or center. Additionally, objects can be aligned horizontally along their top, bottom, or center edge. The bounding box (singular), which encloses the entire selection, defines the edges used to align objects. That’s why the align commands appear to align to the largest object.

To change the stacking order of a selected object or group within a layer, you can do the following:

  • Modify, Arrange, Bring Forward— Moves an object up one level in the stack or group

  • Modify, Arrange, Bring to Front— Moves an object to the very front of the stack or group

  • Modify, Arrange, Send Backward— Moves the object down one level in the stack or group

  • Modify, Arrange, Send to Back— Moves the object down to the bottom of the stack or group

Exercise 4.2: Drawing a Panda Head with Basic Shapes

Drawings in Fireworks are composed of a collection of simple shapes or complex curves drawn with the Basic Shapes tool. For this exercise, you create a panda graphic by using some of the Basic Shape tools (see Figure 4.27).

Figure 4.27. The complete panda graphic.


Along the way, you get some practice using several panels and many of the transform functions, including the following:

Duplicate Layers Panel
Group Arrange
Set Fill and Stroke Align
Scale Modify
Rotate Property Inspector
Flip 


Drawing the Panda Head

The following sets of steps take you through the process of drawing the elements of a simple but cute looking Panda head.

1.
Look at the Tools panel. Make sure that the stroke color is set to black and the fill is set to white.

Hint: Click the Set Default Brush and Fill Colors buttons on the Tools panel.

2.
Choose File, New. Create a new document with the width set to 600 and height set to 400. Make the canvas color white.

You are making the canvas larger than the panda’s head. This means that the object won’t fill the canvas completely, allowing space around the outside edges of your canvas, within which you are going to construct the other elements of the panda’s head and body.

3.
Select the Ellipse tool from the Tools panel.

4.
Click and drag on the canvas with the Ellipse tool. Create an ellipse that’s approximately 146 pixels wide by 123 pixels tall.

If you want, you can drag out an ellipse of any size and then, using the Property Inspector, select your ellipse and type 146 in the width selection text field and 123 in the height selection text field.

5.
After your ellipse is drawn and sized correctly, look at the attribute of the ellipse known as the stroke.

The Stroke Panel

The default stroke for objects is pencil, one pixel soft, and at one pixel:

1.
With the ellipse selected, change the thickness of the stroke from 1 to 6 by using the pop-up slider on the right side of the panel (just above the Amount of Texture pop-up slider). This slider is known as the Tip Size and, like many other panels and fields in Fireworks, you can just type a 6 to replace the stroke of 1 with a stroke of 6.

After you do this, you see that your circle’s outline becomes thicker.

To get a better idea of what you’re creating open the file panda artwork from your Vector folder. It should look like Figure 4.28.

Figure 4.28. Drawing the panda’s head, step by step.


You need to refer to this image to make sure that you’re on the right track. The tutorial file is also available on the CD-ROM.

Now you must create the panda’s ears (see Figure 4.29). For this, you also use the Ellipse tool, except that you want to actually create a circle.

Figure 4.29. The panda’s ear.


2.
Select the Ellipse tool and position your cursor near the upper-left corner.

3.
Click and drag while holding the Shift key to create a circle. I created my circle at 47 wide by 47 wide.

The attribute of the last item drawn carries over to the next item. The circle is 47 pixels by wide and 47 pixels high and is filled with white and stroked with 6 points of black.

We are going to need to make the ears black, and we’ll do that in the next step. But, we also want a duplicate of this ear shape for the other side of the panda’s head. This gives us an opportunity to begin working with guides.

If your rulers are not showing, choose View, Rulers and make sure that they are checked on. After your rulers are on, you can click in the horizontal and vertical rulers and drag down to pull guides from the ruler.

4.
Create a guide by clicking in the rulers to the horizontal or vertical rulers and drag onto the canvas and drag out. Notice that, as you drag, your guide follows your cursor.

5.
Position your guide at the center of the large oval, which is the panda’s head. This is so that you can position the ears on either side of the panda’s head symmetrically.

6.
Select the large oval.

7.
Click in the left ruler and drag until you are on top of the ellipse’s center point.

8.
When you have your cursor right on top of that center point, release it. Your guide is now aligned to the center of the panda’s head.

9.
To make an exact copy of the panda’s ear, use the Clone option.

10.
Select the panda’s left ear, making sure that the panda’s head is not selected.

11.
Choose Edit, Clone.

Look in the Layers panel. Notice that another object, called Path, has been created. The clone of the ear sets directly on top of the first ear.

From this point, you want to position the ear on the other side of the panda’s head. To do this, use your arrow keys.

12.
Tap the right arrow (on the keyboard); notice that the ear that needs to be on the right side begins to move across the screen.

Tip: To get it to move more quickly, hold the Shift key and the right ear moves in 10-pixel increments instead of 1-pixel increments.

13.
Tap several times until you position the ear on what looks equidistant from the center line (see Figure 4.30).

Figure 4.30. The panda’s ears.


Technical Tip: To be perfectly equal, use this technique: Use the Property Inspector to find the x location of the cloned ellipse and set it’s new location to be of equal distance from the center guide that was at 300 pixels. So the second-ear ellipse will be set at 300, plus the difference between 300 and the position of the original ear ellipse. Enter that number in the Property Inspector.

Creating the Left Eye

Now that you have the ears spaced equidistantly on either side of the panda’s head, it’s time to create the left eye with a series of ellipses (three in total):

1.
Click and drag the outer ellipse on the left side of your panda’s head and the left side of the guideline.

Use the Property Inspector to help you make it approximately 57 pixels wide by 45 pixels high. With the tip or stroke size set to 6, it makes it difficult to visualize what this eye is going to look like.

2.
With the first eye ellipse still selected, change the tip size, or stroke thickness, from 6 to 2 using the Property Inspector (see Figure 4.31). This time, instead of creating a completely new ellipse by clicking and dragging, use the existing ellipse to create the next one inside of it.

Figure 4.31. The panda’s eye.


3.
Make sure that your ellipse is selected and choose Edit, Clone. This makes an exact copy of your original and places it directly on top of the original. Now, resize the clone.

4.
With the ellipse still selected, choose the Scale tool from the Tools panel.

Notice eight Transform handles around the outside edge of the bounding box— one on each corner and one on each side. In the very center is what is called the center point. Leave that alone for now.

5.
Click the upper-left Transform handle and drag the ellipse down toward the right.

6.
Scale the ellipse to about 80 percent of the original size. Choose Modify, Transform, Numeric Transform to set the mode of transformation to scale and enter 80 into one of the numeric fields, making sure that Scale Attributes and Constrain Proportions are checked. Click OK.

7.
With the second ellipse still selected, select Edit, Clone.

You just cloned the object and the bounding box appears around the second ellipse.

8.
Click and drag the upper-left handle to about 60 percent of the original size (see Figure 4.32).

Figure 4.32. The panda’s eye—continued.


Modifying the Three Ellipses

You will now modify these three ellipses to make the panda’s eye look like an eye:

1.
With the smallest ellipse still selected, change its attributes of stroke to none.

2.
Click in the Color box to the right of the pencil in the Colors panel.

3.
Move your cursor to the top part of the Color panel where you see a white square with a red line through it.

4.
That item is none. Click it.

5.
Use black for the fill. In the Colors panel, click the Color box to the right of the Paint bucket and choose Black. Now the pupil of the panda’s eye is black with no stroke (see Figure 4.33).

Figure 4.33. The panda’s eye with a pupil.


6.
Set the fill and stroke for the outermost circle. Select it and choose None for the stroke and Black for the fill.

7.
Reposition the three eyepieces and get them lined up properly.

8.
Click the smallest circle—the one that represents the panda’s pupil.

9.
Use your arrow keys on your keyboard to nudge the pupil shape over to the left and up a bit.

10.
Select the white of the panda’s eye with the pupil by holding the Shift key and mouse over it until you see the red highlight.

11.
Click the eye shape. Move the eye shape over and up just a bit if necessary (see Figure 4.34).

Figure 4.34. The panda’s eye is in position.


Making Additional Adjustments

The panda’s eye would look a bit cuter if we make a few tweaks to it:

1.
Select the pupil again, and scale it down from the upper left-hand corner to about 94 percent of its original size.

2.
Select the outermost black circle of the panda’s eye.

3.
Make it larger by clicking and dragging the left Transform handle at the top and scaling it to about 108 percent of its original size. This exaggeration creates the “cute” look.

Before you can duplicate the panda’s left eye and create the right eye from it, you’ll need to group all the three panda eye pieces so that they act as one element. Grouping makes it easier to select graphics that consist of several objects, by making them into one group. The following section shows you how to do this.

Grouping the Eye Objects

1.
Select each one of the three parts of the eye and choose Modify, Group.

Notice that the four points surrounding the group indicate that they are grouped.

Hint: You can add an object or another group to the original group by selecting both the object (or group) and the original group and then selecting Modify, Group again. This is called nesting a group.

2.
To select objects within the group, you do not have to ungroup it. You use the Subselection tool to select objects within a group, or press the Alt key (for Windows) or the Option key (for a Macintosh) while selecting the part of the group with the Pointer tool).

Duplicating the Eye

Now that the panda’s left eye is grouped, you can duplicate it to create the right eye:

  1. Move and then flip the eye to get it into the correct position.

  2. With the eye group selected, choose Edit, Clone. Now the clone of the eye is now selected.

  3. Move the clone approximately 70 pixels by holding down the Shift key, and tapping the right arrow seven times.

  4. Because we want both eyes looking straight ahead, flip the right eye so that the pupil is pointing towards the left.

  5. With the right eye selected, choose Modify, Transform, Flip Horizontal.

The eyes are complete (see Figure 4.35). Yippee!

Figure 4.35. The panda’s eyes are finally complete.


Creating the Panda’s Nose

The panda’s nose is a small triangle that we create by following these steps:

1.
Choose the Polygon tool from the Basic Shapes tools in your Tools panel.

2.
Make sure that the Tool option is set to Polygon and Side is set to 3 in the Property Inspector.

3.
Click and drag on your canvas to create a downward-pointing triangle.

Because the last item that you created was a black fill with a black stroke, the triangle will be drawn with a black fill and a black stroke.

4.
While the triangle is still selected, set the stroke in the Property Inspector to None (see Figure 4.36).

Figure 4.36. The panda’s nose.


5.
Zoom in on the triangle to get a better look by clicking the Zoom tool in the Tools panel.

6.
Move the magnification-glass cursor over the triangle. Click and drag a marquee around the panda nose triangle to zoom in on it.

You can see that it jumps to the center of your screen and makes your triangle look really big, even though it’s really small.

Look closely. The first thing I noticed when I zoomed in on my triangle was that the top two points, the bar across the top of the triangle, was not level. Yours might be different, but here’s what I did to fix mine:

Because the shape is not quite right, you must understand the reason why and adjust the shape by using the Pen tool and Bezier control handles.

Why not rotate with the Transform tool? You can rotate in 1-degree increments by using the Modify, Transform, Numeric Transform command and then use Edit, Repeat Transform to rotate the triangle to the exact location where you want it to appear.

Using the Zoom Tool

There are two alternate ways to zoom:

  • Option #1— You can hold down the Ctrl key (for Windows) and type minus or the Command key (for a Macintosh) and type minus to zoom out one increment at a time. You can zoom in and out to get different views of your object and see how it looks at different scaling.

    In this case, although I know the triangle is still too big to be the panda’s nose, it is probably be easier to manipulate the corner points to round them with the nose at a larger size.

  • Option #2— Click to Select the Zoom tool from the Tools panel. Then click and drag around the triangle to zoom in on it. With the triangle still selected, choose the Pen tool. (The Pen tool is the tool that you use to make Bezier curves.) You can create complex shapes with this tool by clicking and dragging in different directions and then joining to make closed paths, also know as complex shapes.

    In this case, you use the Pen tool to modify the points of the nose shape. This method is the way to use the Pen tool to modify points of paths that you have already created from the basic shapes.

Click and drag the right corner-top point of the triangle and begin to drag out just a little bit.

Notice that, if you drag one way, your corner point begins to look like a loop, but if you slowly rotate the cursor around to the top and drag, your corner begins to round.

I want to round the top two corners, but not the bottom of my triangle. To round the top correctly, I move the cursor to the point on the left with the Pen tool. That point becomes selected and, when I begin to drag again, if I drag up I see a loop, and if I drag down, my triangle begins to become round on that corner. I am going to try to match the angles of the way I dragged on the right and have them doing the symmetrically opposite thing.

I release the mouse and I have what looks more like a nose shape than a triangle. Then, I zoom back out to 100 percent.

We talked about other ways of duplicating, such as copy and paste, duplicate and clone. The following trick is another way of copying items:

1.
Select the final nose of the three noses, and hold down on it with the Pointer tool and drag over and place this triangle on your panda’s face.

2.
Release the mouse and then the Alt (or Option) key.

Scaling the Nose

You will now scale the nose by following these steps:

1.
Select the Scale tool from the Tools panel.

2.
Click and drag from the right corner toward the center until about 70 percent of its original size. Press the Enter key. You can click on the Pointer tool and remove the Transform handles.

You can then move the nose back into place with the Pointer tool. My panda’s nose doesn’t look small enough for me, so I want to scale it one more time. I like the width; however, I don’t like the height. I am going to zoom in on it again.

3.
Using the Subselection tool, select the bottom-most point of the panda’s nose by clicking once to select the shape, and then clicking directly on the bottom point. You can tell when the bottom point is selected because it fills in dark blue.

4.
Click the point again with the Subselection tool and drag it slowly upward on the center guide, compressing and shortening the nose.

I moved the bottom point on my triangle six pixels up to flatten out the nose (see Figure 4.37).

Figure 4.37. The panda’s nose has now been scaled down.


The Panda’s Snout

You will now draw the panda’s snout and mouth, or more precisely, make it an indication of the panda’s snout and draw its mouth with small lines, using the Line and Pen tools:

1.
Select the Line tool from the Tools panel.

2.
Click at the base of the triangle of the panda’s nose and drag down, holding the Shift key along the guide to drag out the snout. The length of the snout is 14 pixels. The width is 1 pixel.

I want the panda’s mouth to be a curved line, not a straight line, and you can’t draw curved lines with the Line tool, so you must use the Pen tool (see Figure 4.38). The Pen tool makes Bezier curves, which are adjustable. Release the mouse button, then move the Pen tool across to the other side of the mouth, and click and drag it up.

Figure 4.38. The panda’s snout and mouth.


3.
Select the Pen tool from the Tools panel.

4.
Click on the left side of the panda’s face and drag to the right and slightly down on the canvas. Release the mouse.

5.
Move the cursor to the right side of the face.

6.
Click and drag up and to the right slightly.

Warning

Be careful when you draw the panda’s smile that you don’t get too close to the bottom of the panda’s snout.


You can make the mouth longer or shorter by using the Subselection tool. To do this, select the end points of your vectors and click and drag them with the arrow tools to change, elongate, or shorten the angle of the mouth.

Adjusting the Ears

To get the size right, the panda’s ears originally started out as white circles with black fills, but that’s not what they’re supposed to look like when the panda’s finished:

  1. Change the attributes of the two ears at the same time by clicking one and Shift-clicking to select the other, going to the color portion of the Tools Pallet, changing the fill from white to black.

    You now want the ears to go behind the head, but because they were originally drawn after the head’s oval, their stacking order puts them in front of the head’s oval. The order in which objects appear on a layer or within your artwork depends on the order in which they were drawn. Just like other graphics programs, the first item is underneath the next item, and the last object created is on top of the stack.

  2. To change the stacking order of ears, use the Arrange submenu or the Modify menu (Modify, Arrange, Send to Back).

That’s it. You have completed the panda’s head.

Creating the Panda’s Body

In this section of the exercise, you complete the panda’s body by using rounded rectangles and choosing Modify Paths, Union:

1.
Select the rounded rectangle from the Basic Shape tools set in the Tools panel.

2.
Click and drag to create a rounded rectangle with a corner radius of 33, a width of 96, and a height of 120 (see Figure 4.39).

Figure 4.39. The panda’s arm is created with a rounded rectangle.


When you draw this rectangle, it will be on the very top of your stacking order of your objects.

3.
Send it to the back of your artwork by either clicking the tool bar or choosing Modify, Arrange, Send to Back. You want it sent to the very back so that you know it’s behind the head (see Figure 4.40).

Figure 4.40. The panda’s arm is sent to the back of the artwork.


4.
Create two smaller rectangles for the panda’s arms. Continue using the Rounded Rectangle tool.

5.
Change the roundness setting to 100 in the Property Inspector and create a rectangle with a width of 76 and a height of 24 at the top left of your panda, so that it looks like your panda’s arm is reaching to the left.

6.
With this arm selected, click and hold the Shift key and the Alt key (for Windows) or Shift-Option (for a Macintosh).

7.
Drag the top arm down to the bottom base of the panda’s body.

8.
If you need to nudge the arms into position, you can do that with the cursor keys (see Figure 4.41).

Figure 4.41. The panda with two arms.


Although you could make these into a group to make them easier to manage, I think I it is better to make these three objects into one actual object by uniting them into one complex shape (by using Modify, Combine Paths, Union):

1.
Click the three component parts: the panda’s two arms and body.

2.
Select Modify, Combine Paths, Union.

3.
The new panda shape acts like its just been drawn and comes to the top of the stacking order.

Creating the Panda’s Tail

To create the panda’s tail, follow these steps:

1.
Select the Ellipse from the Basic Shapes tool in the Tools panel.

2.
Move the cursor to the lower end of the panda’s back on the right.

3.
Holding the Shift key, click and drag from inside the panda’s body out toward the outside of the panda’s body.

4.
Make a circle that overlaps half inside the panda’s body and half outside the panda’s body. With that shape, this new circle tail is still selected.

5.
Hold the Shift key and select the body as well.

6.
Choose Modify, Combine, Union, making the panda’s arms and legs, body, and tail into one complex shape.

7.
Choose Send to Back to push the panda’s body to the back of the stacking order.

Adjusting the Panda’s Arms

Finally, the panda’s arms seem a little long, so adjust them using the Subselection tool in a special way:

1.
With the panda deselected, choose the Subselection tool.

2.
Click with the cursor outside to the upper left of the panda to deselect all the selected objects. Click down and around just the tips of the panda’s paws.

3.
Carefully select just the rounded tips of the arms on the top and bottom.

Just the correct points are selected because they are the ones highlighted in dark blue (if your preferences are set on default).

4.
Press the right-arrow key several times until the arms become shorter.

The panda is now complete.

Creating the Tree for the Panda

You must now create the tree by using the Rounded Rectangle tool and the Ellipse tool to create the stem and leaves. This procedure involves converting points:

1.
Select the Ellipse tool, set the stroke to none and the fill to light green. I used 99CC00.

2.
Drag an ellipse with a width of 13 and height of 41 for the first leaf. You make the rest of the leaves from this original.

3.
Zoom in on the ellipse that you just drew, select the Zoom tool, and click and drag a marquee around the leaf to zoom into it (see Figure 4.42).

Figure 4.42. The leaves that were created from the Ellipse tool.


4.
Select the Pen tool.

5.
Click the very top point of the ellipse and then on the bottom point of the ellipse to change the round points at the top and bottom to corner points. This creates a pointy leaf.

Now, you need to rotate the leaf.

6.
Use the Rotate tool to rotate the leaf so that it’s coming out of the stem.

7.
With the leaf selected, choose the Transform tool from the Tools panel.

When the cursor is set away from the now selected leaf, it displays the rotation pointer. When the cursor is placed on one of the object’s corner points, it becomes a double-headed diagonal arrow. When it’s on one of the side handles, it becomes either a vertical or a horizontally aligned double-headed arrow.

8.
Move the cursor toward the upper left-hand corner from the leaf, but not touching it. When you’re about a quarter of an inch away, click and drag down to rotate the top of the leaf down, and the bottom of the leaf up.

9.
If you hold the Shift key while rotating, the rotation occurs in 15-degree increments.

10.
Rotate the leaf down 45 degrees.

11.
Switch back to the Pointer tool and move the leaf over toward the bamboo by clicking and dragging it.

I left mine just a hair away from the edge of the bamboo leaf (see Figure 4.43).

Figure 4.43. Bamboo leaves.


12.
Using Ctrl-minus (for Windows) or Command-minus (for a Macintosh), zoom out from the screen so that you can see the artwork at 100 percent.

13.
Click the leaf, hold the Shift key, and drag with the Alt key clicked to duplicate the leaf.

14.
Release the mouse and then the keys.

15.
Holding the Shift key again, select the top leaf and position it beneath.

16.
Select both leaves and choose Clone.

17.
Hold down the Shift key, tap the right-pointing arrow 3 times to move the leaves on the right 30 pixels, and hold the Shift key and tap the down arrow 4 times to move them down 40 pixels.

18.
With the leaves still selected, Choose Modify, Transform, Flip Vertical to flip them on their vertical axis.

The bamboo stalk is now complete (see Figure 4.44).

Figure 4.44. The completed bamboo stalk.


For the finishing touch on the panda’s face, I changed the mouth from a smile to a little circle because it makes him look more panda-like (see Figure 4.45).

Figure 4.45. You now have a complete panda. Way to go!


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