Splitting and Joining to Create Complex Shapes

LayOut's Split and Join tools have something in common with the typical love interests in a pop music album. The Split tool tears shapes apart, and the Join tool brings them back together. Fortunately, in LayOut, splitting and joining shapes involves very little drama.

To split a line or shape,

  1. Select the Split tool (), which you find on the default toolbar or by selecting Tools > Split from the menu bar.
  2. Click on the line or shape edge where you want to split it.

That's really all you have to do. After you split a line or shape, you can drag its pieces anywhere you like in the drawing area. The following figure shows a line, circle, and polygon before and after they were split and dragged apart.

The Split tool breaks a line or shape at the point where you click

You can also use the Split and Join tools together to create complex shapes.

Tip: For stress-free splitting and joining, you need to remember two things:
  • The two shapes need to overlap.
  • The Split tool enables you to create a shared vertex where the lines in two shapes overlap. Only after you create these shared vertices can you join the shapes.

To join two or more shapes, follow these steps:

  1. With the Select tool (), drag the shapes so they overlap in the way that you want to join the shapes, as shown in the following figure, which has three shapes. (See Callout 1.)
  2. Select the Split tool ().
  3. To create a shared vertex, click at each point where the shapes overlap. When you hover the Split cursor over the correct point, you see a red X and an Intersection ToolTip appears. In the following figure, Callout 2 shows how the shape looks after creating each split.
  4. With the Erase tool (), click to erase any piece you don't need in the final shape. Notice, however, that when you select an element, each one is still a separate shape (Callout 3). The Join tool enables you to glue the pieces together.
  5. Select the Join tool (), which you find on the default toolbar or by selecting Tools > Join.
  6. Click an edge in each piece with the Join tool cursor. A blue outline flashes as you click, and the shape begins to inherit the fill color of the first shape that you click. In Callout 4, you see the how, after the shape is joined together, you can select it as a single shape.
You can split and join simple shapes to create more complex shapes
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