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Chapter 3. Modifying Simple Graphics > Distorting Graphic Elements

Distorting Graphic Elements

The free-transform tool allows you to distort a graphic element by changing the shape of its bounding box. You can reposition one or more corners of the box individually; you can manipulate paired corner handles simultaneously to turn the rectangular box into a trapezoid; and you can stretch, shrink, and/or skew the box by moving the side handles of the bounding box. The selected element(s) stretch or shrink to fit the new bounding box. Distortion works only on raw shapes, not on grouped elements or symbols, which you’ll learn about in chapters 4 and 6.

To distort an element freely:

Using the free-transform tool, select the element you want to distort.

A bounding box with transformational handles appears.

In the Toolbox, select the Distort modifier (Figure 3.69).

Figure 3.69. Choose the free-transform tool’s Distort modifier to reposition the corner points of your selection independently.

Distorted Perspective

As beginning art students discover, it’s not too hard to add depth to objects made up of rectangular shapes. You simply adjust the appropriate edges to align with imaginary “parallel” lines that converge at a distant point on the horizon—the vanishing point. This creates the illusion that the objects recede into the distance. Adding perspective to nonrectangular shapes takes a bit more experience and the ability to imagine the way that those shapes should look. The Distort modifier of Flash’s free-transform tool helps you because it encloses your selected shape—circle, oval, or squiggle—within a rectangular bounding box. All you need to do is adjust that box as you would a rectangular shape.

Beginning art students learn about 1-point, 2-point, and 3-point perspective. The “points” here refer to the vanishing point—the spot in the distance where parallel lines seem to converge. By selecting elements in your artwork carefully, and by using the distort tools to make the edges of the bounding box seem to line up with those “converging” lines, you can add perspective to objects even if they do not contain the parallel lines that would make it easy for you to fake the depth perception you want.

Note that the center point of your selection disappears, indicating that you are in Distort mode.

Position the pointer over one of the transformational handles.

The pointer changes to a hollow arrowhead.

To change the shape of the bounding box, do one of the following:

  • To relocate one corner of the element’s bounding box, position the pointer over one of the corner handles; then click and drag the handle to the desired location. You can position each of the four corner handles independently (Figure 3.70).

    Figure 3.70. Use the free-transform tool’s Distort modifier to redefine the shape of an element’s bounding box. You can drag each corner handle separately.

  • To skew the element, position the pointer over one of the side handles; then drag the handle to the desired position. The element skews toward the direction you drag.

  • To stretch the element as you skew it, move the selected side handle away from the element’s center (Figure 3.71).

    Figure 3.71. When the Distort modifier is selected, dragging the side handles of a selected element’s bounding box skews the element. To enlarge (or shrink) the element at the same time, move the side handle away from (or in toward) the center of the original shape.

  • To shrink the element as you skew it, move the selected side handle toward the element’s center.

Release the mouse button.

Flash redraws the selection to fill the new bounding-box shape.



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