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Using the Pen tool

From: Fireworks CS5 Essential Training

Video: Using the Pen tool

Probably one of the most intimidating tools for new users is the Pen tool. I know it scared me when I first started working with vectors. Well, the Pen tool in Fireworks is not as scary as it may seem. And it's a very important tool to master, because at some point, you're going to want to progress from using pre-built shapes and create your own, or even if you just want to edit pre-built shapes, to make them more organic looking - the Pen tool can help with this too. I'm working with a file called peppers_start.png, and you'll find it in the chapter 4 folder. And before we actually use the tool, let's take a look at the existing shape that's on our screen.

Using the Pen tool

Probably one of the most intimidating tools for new users is the Pen tool. I know it scared me when I first started working with vectors. Well, the Pen tool in Fireworks is not as scary as it may seem. And it's a very important tool to master, because at some point, you're going to want to progress from using pre-built shapes and create your own, or even if you just want to edit pre-built shapes, to make them more organic looking - the Pen tool can help with this too. I'm working with a file called peppers_start.png, and you'll find it in the chapter 4 folder. And before we actually use the tool, let's take a look at the existing shape that's on our screen.

This is a vector shape and when I select it, you'll notice a blue highlight around the entire shape. And around that blue highlight, you'll see little blue boxes. These are called control handles, or control points. And basically, every time you see one of those boxes it means that the vector shape is taking a change in direction or angle or type of vector from straight to curved, for example. Now, I grab my Subselection tool, you'll notice that those blue squares suddenly become hollow. And if I click on any one of the blue squares, you'll see some control handles come out.

These are Bezier Curve Control Handles, and they allow me to adjust the curve of that path. And not only you can control the curve with the Bezier Curve Handles, but you can also control the position of the path and the control point by literally just dragging it and changing its location. So you got a lot of control over working with a vector path once it's being created, but we still have to create our very own. So, let's move over to our Vector tools and grab our Pen tool. Now the way the Pen tool works, you can create two different types of lines or paths with the Pen tool.

You can create straight lines or curved lines. To create a straight line, you just click once to get the Pen tool started, and then you just drag across. You can see I'm getting this little pen preview that's showing me the angle of my line or my path. Now if I click again, I can change direction, so I can move down, for example. Click again and then move my mouse over, and I can change direction again. So creating straight lines is a pretty straightforward process. Now, if we want to change this up and add some curves, rather than just clicking, what you do is you click and drag, and when you drag you get a curve.

If I let go on the mouse, I can move further up in my design here, and you can see I'm maintaining the curve. I can click again and drag and create a different kind of curve. I can move it a little bit further up, click and drag, and then I'll go all the way back to the beginning. And when I get back to the beginning of my original shape, you notice the Pen tool changes slightly. There is a little tiny circle beside the Pen tool icon. And that's an indication that when you click one more time you're going to close the path, and it will get filled with whatever properties are currently inside the Property Inspector. There we go.

So there's our rough shape. So just, again, a little recap on this. You click, move your mouse and click again to set a straight point. Once you click, you can change direction and if you want to create a curve point, move your cursor, you click and you drag. That's the basic process behind it. All right! I'm just going to delete these two practice shapes and just keep pressing the Delete button till it goes away. Now, we're actually going to create a copy or a custom shape that looks as similar as possible to our sample here of a green pepper.

So I'm going to grab my Pen tool again. And I'm not going to be too worried about the exact shape or the exact angle; those are the kinds of things I can change after I've drawn the basic shape. So, I'm going to start with one point. I'm going to move over, and I'm going to click and drag to create my curve. I'm going to continue the curve around the corner there, move my cursor down, create another curve there. Now, if I want to change from a curved point to a straight point, I can do that while I'm working with the Pen tool.

I can just click back on the last point that I created, and then now my path becomes a straight path. So, click once there, one more time there, and I'll go back up to the beginning, and I'll click and drag to create the rounded part of my pepper there, kind of like that. Now, it's not the same shape, and that's okay. We're going to be tweaking this a lot. So the idea here is to get started, and then you can edit things as you go. Now, as I mentioned, you can use the Subselection tool to reposition your different control points. So I'm just going to, first of all, make the top of my pepper a little bit higher up.

Then I'm going to move to my control point over in the left-hand side and drag that in a bit. And I'm going to go over to the control point on the left-hand side. You can see when I click on that particular control point I didn't get any curves. The curves are actually being controlled down here. So, I can go ahead and just make adjustments to that. And also, if I just deselect for a minute, you'll notice I'm getting a pretty sharp corner here. My example here has a nice, little curve. So we're going to go ahead and change a control point. So in order to change a control point you need to grab the Pen tool again.

Just select the Pen tool, go over the control point you want to change, and you can do one of two things. If you click, you'll change a curve point to a straight point, but if you click and drag, you actually convert the whole thing to a curve, like so. And that gives me my starting point there, and we'll make a couple of more adjustments again with the Subselection tool. I'm going to change the upper curve. I'm going to keep making some more adjustments to my overall shape here and some fined tuning points here.

I don't need to turn this into a curved point. I just want to sort of mimic my example there where it's just a little, tight little pointed corner, and I think I'll reduce the curve a little bit here too. So let's not too, too bad, or maybe pull this one out a little bit further. That's a little more like it. There we go. Take a little bit of experimentation, but you'll eventually get it. So, we notice one little spot here that's still little awkward.

There's a little sharp corner here. And if I go back to my original, you can see I've actually got an extra control point. Now, notice the difference here. The control points here are in different spots. Now, that's not a big deal. We can actually make changes like that ourselves. I can go and grab that control point, and I can reposition it anywhere I like, and we'll just make some more adjustments here, and that's looking a whole lot better.

So, don't worry about getting the exact shape you want right away. You can always come back to things later on and edit them and control them in that manner. Not too bad, and I think the only other thing I'll do with this is is I'll convert that one point into a curve, just to give myself a little smoother look there. I've also got a couple of other things I want to adjust here as well. First of all, this pepper is a lot larger than the sample, and it's also at a different angle. So, I'm going to go to my Pointer tool, select my shape, grab my Scaling tool, and I'm just going to scale this down a little bit, and I'm just going to change the angle by rotating it, say in time, something along that line right there.

And the last little thing I'll do here is just one more adjustment to that top cap a little bit, so it's a little bit flatter. That's the idea. There you have working with the Pen tool. You can see how a comfort level with this tool can open up a lot of creative options. Whether you're creating a new shape from scratch or even just editing an existing shape, mastering this tool is going to open up a lot of possibilities for you.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Fireworks CS5 Essential Training
Fireworks CS5 Essential Training

92 video lessons · 29565 viewers

Jim Babbage
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 42s
    1. Welcome
      1m 22s
    2. What is Fireworks?
      1m 59s
    3. Using the exercise files
      21s
  2. 1h 27m
    1. Creating and opening documents
      7m 36s
    2. Understanding the interface
      9m 43s
    3. Working with tabbed documents
      6m 18s
    4. Setting up rulers, guides, and grids
      10m 7s
    5. Using tooltips and Smart Guides
      5m 40s
    6. Working with panels
      9m 29s
    7. Working with pages
      8m 59s
    8. Working with layers
      13m 13s
    9. Working with states
      4m 35s
    10. Using the Properties panel
      4m 38s
    11. Using the Preferences panel
      7m 34s
  3. 52m 39s
    1. Understanding the Fireworks PNG format
      2m 11s
    2. Saving and exporting files
      5m 11s
    3. Importing files
      5m 34s
    4. Opening Photoshop files
      6m 7s
    5. Opening Illustrator files
      3m 58s
    6. Exporting a single file
      9m 57s
    7. Using the Image Preview window
      1m 52s
    8. Using the Export Area tool
      3m 10s
    9. Creating PDF files
      4m 16s
    10. Saving Photoshop files
      5m 48s
    11. Using Fireworks files for Illustrator
      4m 35s
  4. 1h 2m
    1. Understanding bitmaps
      1m 32s
    2. Resizing images
      3m 48s
    3. Using the selection tools
      8m 0s
    4. Using the drawing tools
      8m 19s
    5. Retouching with the corrective tools: Rubber Stamp
      12m 16s
    6. Using the bitmap effects tools: Blur, Sharpen, and Replace Color
      7m 33s
    7. Using more bitmap effects tools: Dodge and Burn
      7m 1s
    8. Improving images using the Levels filter
      8m 15s
    9. Creating a bitmap mask with a selection
      6m 2s
  5. 1h 10m
    1. Looking at the vector toolset
      6m 53s
    2. Using the Pen tool
      7m 32s
    3. Editing vector shapes with the Freeform and Reshape Area tools
      4m 35s
    4. Filling shapes with patterns and live filters
      3m 17s
    5. Using Auto Shapes
      7m 24s
    6. Using shapes as image elements
      4m 16s
    7. Scaling shapes
      5m 28s
    8. Masking objects with vector shapes
      7m 13s
    9. Applying strokes
      5m 52s
    10. Using Vector Path and Path Scrubber
      6m 9s
    11. Using the Compound Shape tool
      7m 40s
    12. Using Snap to Pixel
      2m 15s
    13. Using Gradient Dither
      1m 46s
  6. 51m 18s
    1. Understanding symbols
      5m 41s
    2. Creating graphic symbols
      13m 11s
    3. Creating button symbols
      10m 22s
    4. Creating animation symbols
      5m 4s
    5. Sharing symbols with the Common Library
      1m 37s
    6. Editing the instance of a symbol
      3m 46s
    7. Adding component symbols to a design
      8m 46s
    8. Exporting and importing symbols
      2m 51s
  7. 17m 34s
    1. Creating GIF animations
      9m 31s
    2. Animating with Twist and Fade
      3m 47s
    3. Creating a tweened animation
      4m 16s
  8. 26m 46s
    1. Using text in Fireworks
      7m 19s
    2. Understanding text properties
      3m 14s
    3. Adding text in a path
      4m 43s
    4. Adding text to a path
      4m 31s
    5. Using text as a mask
      3m 35s
    6. Maintaining crisp text in web images
      3m 24s
  9. 28m 35s
    1. Having fun with filters
      8m 44s
    2. Working with Styles
      4m 10s
    3. Using Blend Modes
      4m 40s
    4. Converting bitmap selections to paths
      3m 50s
    5. Working with Adobe Swatch Exchange files
      2m 33s
    6. Using the Kuler panel for color inspiration
      4m 38s
  10. 1h 14m
    1. Understanding the web toolset
      1m 51s
    2. Creating hotspots
      6m 22s
    3. Using the Slice tool
      8m 57s
    4. Using a master page
      5m 20s
    5. Sharing layers across pages
      4m 49s
    6. Sharing web layers across pages
      3m 30s
    7. Using HTML component symbols
      3m 15s
    8. Creating choices and showing design options to clients
      7m 7s
    9. Importing pages
      2m 47s
    10. Previewing the mockup
      4m 17s
    11. Using HTML prototyping
      5m 22s
    12. Improving the workflow
      20m 30s
  11. 33m 19s
    1. Optimizing images for export, part 1
      15m 36s
    2. Optimizing images for export, part 2
      13m 36s
    3. Generating a CSS-based layout
      4m 7s
  12. 22m 20s
    1. Integrating Fireworks, FXG, and Flash Catalyst
      3m 56s
    2. Integrating Fireworks and Flash
      3m 46s
    3. Using roundtrip editing between Dreamweaver and Fireworks
      5m 52s
    4. Copying and pasting objects to Dreamweaver
      2m 57s
    5. Integrating Fireworks and Device Central
      4m 13s
    6. Working with Bridge
      1m 36s
  13. 13s
    1. Goodbye
      13s

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