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Making Complex Shapes with Fireworks MX 2004

Fireworks MX 2004 introduces a new concept for creating shapes: AutoShapes. You can make these complex shapes simply by choosing them directly from the Rectangle tool's pop-up menu:

  • Arrow
  • Beveled Rectangle
  • Chamfer Rectangle
  • Connector Line
  • Doughnut
  • L-Shape
  • Pie
  • Rounded Rectangle
  • Smart Polygon
  • Spiral
  • Star

If you can't find the kind of shape you want to make in the Vector Shape tool pop-up menu, you can make a custom freeform shape. Believe it or not, making odd shapes is just as easy as making regular ones, and it may even be more fun!

The main tool you use to create complex shapes is the Pen tool, found in the Vectors section of the Tools panel. Like the Rectangle tool, the Pen tool comes with some variations, which you can access by clicking and holding the mouse button down on the Pen tool. The pop-up menu for the Pen tool displays the following variations:

  • The Pen tool: Use the Pen tool to place points on the page; Fireworks connects the dots for you.
  • The Vector Path tool: Use the Vector Path tool to draw as you would with a felt-tip marker. You can manipulate the path in ways unavailable if you'd used a bitmap tool (or a real felt-tip marker).
  • The Redraw Path tool: Use the Redraw Path tool to change the length or shape of a path you have already created.

To make a freeform shape with straight lines, follow these steps:

1. Select the Pen tool from the Vector section of the Tools panel.

2. Place the cursor over the canvas.

Your cursor becomes a fountain pen.

3. Click to make your starting point.

4. Move your cursor and click to create a second point.

Fireworks connects the dots with a straight line.

5. Move your cursor and click to create a third point, and, if you like, a fourth, fifth, tenth, or one hundred forty-second point.

6. If you want a closed shape, click again on your starting point to close the shape. Otherwise, double-click the end point to make an open shape.

Making curved lines with the Pen tool can be a little difficult initially. If you know a few things about the Pen tool, using it to make curved lines will be a little easier. First of all, you can make two kinds of points with the Pen tool. Which kind you make determines whether the line connecting the dots is straight or curved:

  • Corner points: These points anchor straight lines.
  • Curve points: These points anchor curved lines.

If you simply click in various spots to make the shape, you automatically make corner points. To make a freeform shape with curved lines, do the following:

1. Select the Pen tool from the Vector section of the Tools panel.

2. Place the cursor over the canvas.

Your cursor becomes a fountain pen.

3. Click to make your starting point.

4. Move your cursor and click a second point. Keeping the mouse button held down, move your cursor.

Point handles (solid circles at both ends of a line that has the selected point in the middle) appear, which indicates that you have made a curve point. As you move the mouse, Fireworks previews the curve between the first and second point.

5. Release the mouse button to make the curve.

Fireworks joins your first and second points.

6. Move your cursor and click and drag to create as many curved lines as you wish.

7. If you want a closed shape, click again on your starting point to close the shape. Otherwise, double-click the end point to make an open shape.

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