How to Create Graphics with Fireworks CS5 Vector Tools

The Vector tools in Adobe Fireworks Creative Suite 5 are similar to the ones you may be used to in Illustrator or Photoshop. You should notice right off the bat in Fireworks that every time you create a new vector shape with one of the vector tools (like Line, Pen, Shape, or Type), Fireworks creates a new sublayer automatically. This arrangement lets you move the shapes freely and independently.

Before repositioning or making other transformations in vector images, confirm which sublayer is active by looking for the highlighted sublayer in the Layers panel. Otherwise, you may unexpectedly move the wrong image.

Use shape tools

To use a shape tool, simply click it and drag it in the workspace. A shape is created, and a new sublayer is added automatically in the Layers panel.

In addition to the basic shape tools, Fireworks has more shapes that are useful for designing buttons, icons, and other web graphics. To find these shapes, click and hold the Rectangle tool in the Tools panel. Hidden shape tools appear such as stars, arrows, and beveled rectangles.

After you create a shape using a shape tool, you can edit it by using the Pointer and Subselection tools:

  • Pointer: If you need to reposition the shape, select the Pointer tool, and click and drag it to a new location. You can also grab the highlighted anchor points to resize the shape.

  • Subselection: If you need to make more defined shape changes (such as changing the corner radius, bevel, or overall shape of the vector graphic), switch to the Subselection tool. It works much like the Select and Direct Select tools in Illustrator and Photoshop.

Create a path

The most popular vector tool in most applications is the Pen tool. Using this tool in a freeform manner, you can create any shape you want (including the type you need to make a button look like it has a reflection, for example) or create your own, custom graphics.

Fireworks offers three types of path tools:

  • The Pen tool works much like other Pen tools. You create a path by clicking from one location to another (creating anchor points) or by clicking and dragging to create curved sections of paths.

  • The Vector Path tool lets you click and drag in a painterly fashion to create a path.

  • The Redraw Path tool lets you reshape a path (by dragging it over an existing path) while maintaining the original stroke information.

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Change an existing path

If you have a hard time using the Pen tool or want to make freeform adjustments, you can get truly excellent results by using the Freeform tool.

To use the Freeform tool with an existing path active (select it with the Pointer tool), follow these steps:

  1. Click the Freeform tool to select it; then click and drag in the workspace to change the way the path looks.

    You can bend the path in different smooth directions.

  2. In the Properties panel, set options to specify the width of the change.

Another tool hidden in the Freeform tool is the Reshape Area tool, which is handy for reshaping existing paths. This tool lets you set a reshape size area in the Properties panel and then edit selected paths by clicking and dragging over them.

Change existing paths with the Reshape Area tool.
Change existing paths with the Reshape Area tool.

The additional path-scrubber tools let you edit paths that have pressure-sensitive strokes. In fact if you do not have paths created using a pressure-sensitive device, you cannot use these tools.

Feel free to scale your text to your heart’s delight; text is vector! To create text in an image area, simply select the Text tool, click to set the insertion point, and then start typing. Use the Properties panel to change the font and size as well as other text attributes.

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