How to Edit Shapes and Paths in iBooks Author

iBooks Author provides 15 predefined shapes that you can edit any time you want. Adding a shape is simple: Choose one from the Shapes icon menu in the toolbar, or choose Insert→Shape and choose one from the submenu that appears.

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You might use shapes for one of two reasons:

  • As a graphical embellishment in a layout, such as having a blue square next to all chapter titles

  • As part of a diagram or other illustration composed of multiple shapes and text boxes

You can edit shapes in a variety of ways. To do so, select the shape and choose Format→Shape→Make Editable. For a line, Bézier curve, or other shape, the selection handles disappear and red circles appear on the shape where that shape’s segments (the lines between points) connect. For a Bézier curve or line, you can also simply click the curve after you select the shape, rather than use the menu command.

All you can do with a line is move its endpoints. Even if you use the Make Editable command or double-click the line, you can’t do more than that.

A Bézier curve being edited (left) and a predefined shape being edited (right).
A Bézier curve being edited (left) and a predefined shape being edited (right).

Click and drag any point on the shape to move it, which changes the shape that it’s part of. The currently selected point is shown as a white circle, and all others are shown as red circles. Click another point to manipulate it. For Bézier curves and for curves on predefined shapes (such as circles and shapes with rounded corners), you can also manipulate the active point’s control handle to change its segment’s curve.

After you make a shape editable, it stays editable. To work on it later, just click to select it, and then click the edge or segment that you want to change to display its points for manipulation.

You can take two other related actions on an editable shape; these options are available for the selected shape in the submenu when you choose Format→Shape:

  • Smooth Path: Converts straight segments in the shape to curves

  • Sharp Path: Converts curved segments in the shape to straight lines

These commands affect all segments in a shape. If you want to convert just specific segments of a shape, you’re out of luck.

If you make a curved shape sharp and then smooth it, you may not get the original shape; in fact, you’re almost certain not to with a Bézier curve because this command makes the curves even, with no pitch to one side that most Bézier objects have.

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