Chapter 12: Using Drawing Layers

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Using Drawing Layers

A drawing layer adds one or more drawn objects to a page. Drawn objects, like text, are vector-based, not pixel-based like the images in image layers. You can resize drawn objects freely without pixelating the objects.

Drawing layers are particularly useful for creating word balloons and other simple shapes like narration boxes that point up narrative text.

Drawing Basics

A drawing layer defines a set of drawn objects. Each object is defined by a set of anchors and their control points and by the object’s stroke and fill.

Anchors and Control Points

A set of three or more anchors defines a drawn object. Each anchor defines a point that the object’s border must pass through. You can add anchors to an object to increase complexity, subtract anchors to simplify, and you can move existing anchors to change the object’s shape.

Figure 1:    Three anchors define a triangle. Moving the lower right anchor up changes the triangle’s shape and size.

Each anchor in an object may have one, two, or no control points. Each control point defines the direction and amount of curvature present in the line that leaves the anchor. You can set a control point for each side of the anchor.

Figure 2:    An anchor’s control points add curvature to the lines leaving the anchor. The direction of the control point defines the direction of the line’s curve; the distance of the control point from the line defines how much the line curves. An anchor may have two control points, one for each side of the anchor.

If a side of the anchor has no control point, the line heads straight to the next anchor unless the next anchor has its own control point that adds curvature to the line.

Stroke and Fill

A drawn object’s stroke defines the object’s border. The stroke width defines the number of pixels used to draw the border; the stroke color defines the color of the border.

A drawn object’s fill defines the color of the interior of the object.

Figure 3:    Stroke defines an object’s border; fill defines the color of the object’s interior. This object has a relatively thick stroke width of four pixels in black with a dark aqua fill.

Creating a New Drawing Layer

To Add a New Drawing Layer to a Page

1.      Click + on the Add New Layer button at the top of the page’s layer stack.

A dialog box appears asking what kind of layer you’d like to create.

2.      Click Drawing then click Done or double-click Drawing.

The dialog box closes and a new drawing layer box appears at the top of the layer stack. The drawing layer box is open and presents drawing layer controls. A bounding box appears for the layer on the canvas.

Drawing Layer Behavior on the Canvas

A drawing layer behaves a bit differently than other layers when it’s selected on the canvas. Because you can draw and modify objects anywhere within the drawing layer’s bounding box, the pointer behaves differently than it does in other types of layers.

You can’t drag the canvas around from the inside of the drawing layer bounding box as you can with other layers, but you can move the canvas around by dragging outside of the bounding box. If you click an underlying layer through a transparent part of a selected drawing layer, you don’t select the underlying layer—you work on the drawing layer instead.

If you’re used to dragging images around by their bounding box borders, drawn objects behave differently. Drag a drawn object (using the selector/resizer tool) by its interior, not by its bounding box.

If you want to drag the drawing layer around canvas, do so by its bounding box.

Drawing Layer Controls

A drawing layer provides controls that create drawn objects, move and resize those objects, set stroke and fill, and manipulate anchors and control points to change objects’ shape.

Drawing Tools

Drawing tools create drawn objects on a drawing layer.

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Figure 4:    Drawing tools: the pen tool defines an object by setting anchor points; the rectangle tool draws rectangles; the ellipse tool draws ellipses; balloon shortcuts add predefined word balloons.

To Draw an Object Using the Pen Tool

1.      In the drawing layer controls, click the pen tool .

2.      In the canvas, click within the drawing layer to place an anchor.

3.      Click again to place another anchor.

A border line appears from the first anchor to the second using the currently defined stroke.

4.      Click until you’ve placed all the anchors you need to define an object.

5.      Click on the first anchor point to complete the object.

The border encloses the object and the object fills with the currently defined fill color.

To Draw a Rectangle Using the Rectangle Tool

1.      In the drawing layer controls, click the rectangle tool .

2.      In the canvas, drag from the point where you want one corner of the rectangle to the point where you want the opposite corner.

A rectangle appears in the drawing layer with the currently defined stroke and fill.

To Draw an Ellipse Using the Ellipse Tool

1.      In the drawing layer controls, click the ellipse tool .

2.      In the canvas, drag from the point where you want one corner of the ellipse’s bounding box to the point where you want the opposite corner of the bounding box.

An ellipse appears in the drawing layer with the currently defined stroke and fill.

To Place a Word Balloon

l  In the drawing layer controls, click in Balloon shortcuts on the word balloon icon with the tail placement you want ( for example).

The word balloon appears in the upper left corner of the drawing layer with the currently defined stroke and fill.

You can drag the word balloon to a new location and adjust size and tail shape using the other drawing tools.

The Selector/Resizer Tool

Once an object is in place in a drawing layer, the selector/resizer tool can move and resize the object.

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Figure 5:    The selector/resizer tool moves and resizes drawn objects.

To Move and Resize an Object Using the Selector/Resizer Tool

1.      In the drawing layer controls, click the selector/resizer tool.

2.      In the canvas, click within a drawn object and drag to move the object to a new location.

Clicking on the object with the selector/resizer tool places a bounding box around the object.

3.      Drag any one of the sizing handles to resize the object.

The object stretches proportionally in the direction of the dragged sizing handle.

Note that you drag an object directly instead of by its bounding box to move the object.

Stroke and Fill Tools

Stroke and fill tools set an object’s stroke width, stroke color, and fill color. They work on a selected object and, once set, set stroke and fill for new objects.

Figure 6:    Stroke and fill tools set stroke width, stroke color, and fill color.

To Set an Object’s Stroke and Fill

1.      In the canvas, click on the object whose stroke and fill you wish to set.

You can use any selection tool: the selector/resizer tool, the anchor move tool, or the anchor modify tool.

2.      In the drawing layer controls, click the Stroke color button and use the color dialog box to choose a color for the object’s stroke.

To eliminate the object’s border (stroke), set stroke color to completely transparent. Note that you can’t use gradients for stroke color.

3.      Set the stroke width value to the number of pixels width you want for the border.

The stroke width must be 1 or higher.

4.      Click the Fill color box and use the color dialog box to choose a color for the object’s fill.

Note that you can’t use gradients for fill color.

Anchor Tools

Anchor tools add and delete anchors from a drawn object. They also move anchors within an object to change its shape and set and move control points to control border curvature.

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Figure 7:    Anchor tools add, delete, move, and modify an object’s anchors.

To Move Anchors Within an Object

1.      In the drawing control panel, click the anchor move tool .

2.      In the canvas, click the object whose anchors you want to move.

The object’s anchors appear. If any of the anchors have control points, the control points also appear.

3.      Drag any anchor to a new location to change the shape of the object.

For convenience, the move anchor tool can also move existing control points to change a line’s curvature as described in the next section. The move anchor tool can’t pull control points out of an anchor to turn on the control points (as you can with the anchor modify tool). This allows you to drag anchor points to move them without pulling out control points.

To Modify Border Curve Using Control Points

1.      In the drawing control panel, click the anchor modify tool .

2.      In the canvas, click the object whose border curves you want to modify.

The object’s anchors and control points (if present) appear.

3.      To modify an existing curve, drag the control point that affects the curve.

Each border line (between two anchors) may be curved by two control points: one coming from each anchor. Each anchor pulls the border line in a different direction.

4.      To add control points to an anchor that has no control points or only one control point, click on the anchor and drag out.

Two control points appear stretching in opposite directions.

Once the control points appear, you can move them independently in different directions.

5.      To move an anchor’s control points together as mirror images of each other, hold down the shift key and drag one of the control points.

The opposite control point moves 180 degrees away from the control point you drag and moves as far from the anchor point as you drag. This is a convenient way to create a smooth curve through an anchor point.

6.      To remove a control point from an anchor, drag the control point directly over the anchor and release the control point.

The control point disappears and the border line from the anchor straightens.

Note that you can’t move anchors using the anchor modify tool, which is necessary to allow you to pull control points out of an anchor. To move an anchor, use the anchor move tool as described in the last section.

To Add an Anchor to an Object

1.      In the drawing control panel, click the anchor add tool .

2.      In the canvas, click on the object border where you want to add an anchor.

A new anchor appears where you clicked.

You can move or modify the added anchor as described earlier.

To Remove an Anchor From an Object

1.      In the canvas, use the anchor move or anchor modify tool to select the object whose anchor you want to remove so the anchors appear on the object.

2.      In the drawing control panel, click the anchor remove tool .

3.      In the canvas, click the anchor you want to remove.

The anchor disappears and the object border is released from the anchor’s location.

Object Clear Tools

A drawing layer offers two tools to clear objects from the layer:

l  The Clear selection button deletes a selected object from the drawing layer.

l  The Clear layer button deletes all objects from the drawing layer.

Figure 8:    The clear tools delete one or all objects from the drawing layer.

The Fit to Content Button

The Fit to content button reduces (or increases) the size of the drawing layer’s bounding box to the minimum size that contains all drawn objects. This is a useful tool for a drawing layer that contains one or more small objects that use little canvas—a single word balloon, for example. Reducing the size of the drawing bounding box lets you click on the canvas outside drawn objects to select layers underneath the drawing layer.

Figure 9:    The Fit to content button sets the drawing layer’s bounding box to the minimum size that contains the objects in the layer.

Using Standard Layer Controls

The other controls in the drawing layer box work the same way they do in other types of layers. Use the standard controls to change the size, position, and rotation of the drawing layer. When you resize the bounding box, all drawn objects in the layer retain their position relative to the top left corner of the bounding box.

Setting a border accents the layer’s bounding box, and setting a background fills in the bounding box. Chances are, though, that you won’t set a layer border and background for a drawing layer.

Working With Drawing Layers

A drawing layer is designed for simple graphics such as word balloons or narration boxes, not for the involved images that typically tell the story within a motion book. Almost all artists will use an outside tool to create detailed images and then import those images in image layers to place on the page.

Drawn images are useful for masks (described in “Using a Layer as a Mask” on page 131) and to create simple images that may perform functions such as wiping across a canvas to reveal new images underneath. You may find other uses with experimentation.

When you create a drawn object, the best way to get a feel for the anchors and control points that define the object is to play with them, pulling on anchors and control points to manipulate an object like two-dimensional clay. You’ll find more information about molding drawn word balloons and filling them with text in “Creating Word Balloons” on page 122.

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