In LayOut, you can bend lines and shapes — no telekinetic powers required! All you need is LayOut’s path editor.
Okay, that might be a tiny fib. You need the path editor and a little knowledge about editing vector graphics and Bézier curves. After you know the tricks, however, bending lines and shapes is easy, and this article explains all the basics to help you get started.
You can use LayOut’s path editor to bend almost any line or shape — almost because you need to draw lines in a special way in order to shape them with the path editor. Also, if you want to edit an ellipse, a rectangle, or a polygon, you need to split the shape first. If you have a circle, any arc, or a line drawn with the Freehand tool, you can jump right to editing its path in the path editor.
In the following sections, you discover all the secrets to bending lines and shapes to your will. Don’t worry: You don’t have to control your energy fields — just your computer’s mouse.
To draw a line that’s a path you can bend with points and curvature controls, you follow these steps instead:
With the Line tool (), click and drag to draw the line. As you drag, a curvature control extends from the start point.
Release the mouse button, and without clicking, move the cursor to set the curve’s direction and size, as shown on the left in the following figure.
At this point, you can take one of two actions:
To finish the curve, click to set the curve’s end point; if you choose this, er, path, then you’re done.
To set a point and continue drawing more curved segments, you can click and hold the mouse cursor to set a point and then, without releasing the mouse button, drag the cursor to pull out another curvature control, and repeat Steps 1–3 until you’re done adding curved segments. On the right in the following figure, you see a curve made of many segments; it’s open in the path editor so that you can see all the points.
Tip: Press Esc at any time to start over.
Splitting shapes to make them editable
To edit the path of any rectangle, an ellipse, or a polygon, you need to split the shape before you can open its path in the path editor.
To split any of these shapes, select the Split tool () and click anywhere on the shape’s outline. Now, you can switch to the Select tool () and double-click the shape to open it in the path editor.
Editing a path
To edit a path, you start by double-clicking the path with the Select tool (), which opens the path in LayOut’s path editor. Then, with the path editor open, you can make the following edits:
Change the shape of any curve by clicking and dragging one of the blue points on either end of a curvature control. In the following figure, notice how dragging the curvature control changed the circle’s shape.
Tip: To access the curvature controls for a rectangle or polygon, hold down the Ctrl key (Microsoft Windows) or the Option key (Mac OS X) as you drag a point on the shape’s path. This action extends a curvature control that you can use to edit the path, as shown in lower left of the following figure.
Move a point by clicking and dragging it. Moving the point changes the curve, as the arc in the upper right of the following figure illustrates. To constrain the move to an axis, hold down the Shift key.
Add points to the path by holding down the Ctrl key (Microsoft Windows) or the Option key (Mac OS X) and clicking anywhere on the path. A point appears with a curvature control. After you add a point, you can move the point or curvature to control to edit the path.
Remove points from the path by dragging a point over an adjacent point. LayOut previews how the path will appear when you release the mouse button. In the lower right, you see how an octagon will look after dragging a point at the top over a point at the bottom. (Note that a path with only two points is deleted if you reduce it to one point.)
When you’re done editing a path, click outside the shape to exit LayOut’s path editor.