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Transforming Objects with Path Operations and Envelope Distort in Microsoft Expression Design

📄 Contents

  1. Transforming Objects with Path Operations
  2. Warping Objects with Envelope Distort
  3. Conclusion
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Ted LoCascio shows how to work with two handy Expression Design features to create interesting new shapes.
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When referring to a creative graphics application like Expression Design, "transforming objects" means moving, scaling, rotating, skewing, flipping, or warping selected objects in the document. However, you also can transform objects by applying Path Operations commands and by warping objects with the Envelope Distort command. The first half of this article describes how you can create new shapes quickly and easily by applying the Path Operations commands to overlapping paths. The second half describes how you can reposition selected points along the Envelope Distort warp grid in order to squeeze and stretch different areas of a path, shape, text object, or placed bitmap graphic.

Transforming Objects with Path Operations

The Path Operations commands allow you to create new shapes by controlling how overlapping paths interact with each other. Options include Unite, Front Minus Back, Back Minus Front, Intersect, and Divide.

Here’s an example:

  1. Use the shape tools (Rectangle, Ellipse, or Polygon) to create two shapes that overlap each other (see Figure 1). If you prefer, you could draw two custom shapes by using the Pen tool.
  2. Apply a different fill color to each shape. To do so, select the object with the Selection tool and click the Fill icon in the Appearance pane of the Properties panel. Then choose a fill color, using any of the following methods:
    • Choose a color with the Color Picker.
    • Enter values in the RGB or Hex field.
    • Click a saved color swatch.
  3. Select both objects by Shift-clicking or drawing a marquee with the Selection tool (see Figure 2).
  4. Choose Object > Path Operations (see Figure 3) and select one of the following commands:
    • Unite combines the shapes into a single path (see Figure 4).
    • Front Minus Back removes the underlying shape and alters the path of the topmost shape by cutting out the area where the two overlapped (see Figure 5).
    • Back Minus Front removes the topmost shape and alters the path of the underlying shape by cutting out the area where the two overlapped (see Figure 6).
    • Intersect creates a single path based on the area where the two shapes intersect (see Figure 7). All other areas are deleted.
    • Divide separates the two shapes into multiple paths (see Figure 8).

Paths combined with path operations always inherit the attributes (such as fill and stroke color) of the topmost object in the stacking order. When combining shapes with the Path Operations commands, Expression Design always applies the attributes from the topmost object in the stacking order to the new shape. Any attributes applied to the underlying object are lost.

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