Creating and Editing Shapes

Use the Bezier and B-Spline shape tools to create any kind of line or shape you need. Once you draw a shape, you can adjust the fill, outline, and feathering to suit your needs.

Note: You can only feather shapes that have the outline turned off.

To make a freehand shape using the Bezier or B-Spline tool
  1. Select the Bezier or B-Spline tool (press B).

  2. Click in the Canvas to create the necessary control points for the line you need.

    For more information, see Shape and Mask Drawing Tools.

  3. To finish drawing the line, do one of the following:

    • Double-click to create the last point.

    • Press Return to finish the line at the last point you drew.

      The mask is left open.

    By default, the Outline checkbox is selected for open shapes.

To edit a shape’s outline
  1. Select a shape, then open the Shape tab in the Inspector.

  2. To manipulate the shape’s outline, do any of the following in the Style pane of the Shape tab:

    • To turn a shape’s outline on or off, click the Outline checkbox.

    • To change the color of the outline, use the Brush Color parameter in the Outline controls.

    • To change the width of the outline, drag the Width slider.

      Note: You can also use the Shape HUD to turn the outline on and off, and to change its color, roundness, and width.

    • To change how the outline’s sharp corners are drawn, choose an option from the Joint pop-up menu.

    • To change the shape of an outline’s start and end caps, choose an option from the Start Cap or End Cap pop-up menu.

    • To change whether the outline appears over or under a shape’s fill, choose a command from the Order pop-up menu.

    • To change the roundness of the outline, adjust the Roundness slider.

    • To change the outline from the default solid to an editable paint stroke, set Brush Type to Airbrush or Image. For more information, see Style Pane Controls in the Inspector.

To create filled or empty shapes
  1. Click the Bezier or B-Spline shape tool (press B).

  2. Create the necessary control points for the shape you need.

    For more information, see Shape and Mask Drawing Tools.

  3. When you’re ready to close the shape, click the first point you created.

  4. By default, new closed shapes are filled. To make the shape empty, select it, then deselect the Fill checkbox in the Shape HUD.

Figure. Canvas window showing a filled and an empty shape.
To edit a shape’s fill
  1. Select a shape, then open the Shape tab in the Inspector.

  2. In the Style pane of the Shape tab, do any of the following:

    • To turn a shape’s fill on or off, click the Fill checkbox.

    • To change a shape’s fill mode from a solid color to a gradient, choose an option from the Fill Mode pop-up menu.

    • If the shape’s fill mode is set to a solid color, you can choose the color using the Fill Color controls.

    • If the shape’s fill mode is set to a gradient, you can either choose a gradient from the gradient preset pop-up menu, or click the Gradient parameter’s disclosure triangle to display the Gradient editor and create your own custom gradient. For more information on using the Gradient editor, see Gradient Controls.

To feather a shape
  1. Select the shape you want to feather.

  2. If the shape’s Outline checkbox is selected, deselect the checkbox in the Style pane of the Shape tab.

  3. Adjust the Feather slider in the HUD or in the Style pane of the Shape tab.

    Positive values spread the feathering outward, while negative values feather the shape inward.

Figure. Canvas window showing a shape being feathered out and being feathered in.

Tip: You can also blur a shape in other ways using filters. For more information, see Applying Filters to Shapes.

Creating Rectangles, Circles, and Lines

The Rectangle and Line tools create simple linear shapes. The Circle tool creates a simple Bezier shape. Once drawn, a shape can be converted to a Linear, Bezier, or B-Spline shape in the Inspector. The resulting shapes can be edited just like any other Bezier shape, using the methods described in How to Edit Shapes.

To make a rectangle
  1. Click the Rectangle tool (or press R).

    Figure. Rectangle tool.

    The Rectangle Tool HUD appears. To change the color or roundness of the shape before it is drawn, use the controls in the HUD. Select the Outline checkbox to create an outline with the shape. The Width slider adjusts the width of the outline. Once the shape is created, the Shape HUD appears.

    The Rectangle shape layer does not appear in the Layers tab until an object is drawn.

    Note: Outlines can be added and edited after a shape is drawn.

  2. Click in the Canvas to define the first corner of the rectangle, then drag until the resulting rectangle is the size you want, and release the mouse button to finish drawing.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a rectangle object and a square object.

    Note: To create a perfect square, press Shift while you drag. To draw the rectangle from its center, press Option while you drag.

  3. Once the shape is created, press S or Esc to exit shape-drawing mode and activate the Select/Transform tool.

To make a rounded rectangle
  1. Create a rectangle shape as described above.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Drag the roundness handle in the upper left corner of the shape.

      Figure. Canvas window showing a rectangle shape being manipulated by a roundness handle.
    • In the HUD, adjust the Roundness slider.

      Note: You can also set the Roundness value in the Shape HUD prior to drawing the rectangle.

    • In the Inspector, click the Geometry pane and adjust the Roundness slider.

To make a circle
  1. Click the Rectangle tool and, holding the mouse button, select the Circle tool (or press C).

    Figure. Circle tool in the Toolbar.

    The Circle Tool HUD appears. To change the color of the shape before it is drawn, use the color controls in the HUD. Select the Outline checkbox to create an outline with the shape. The Width slider adjusts the width of the outline. Once the shape is created, the Shape HUD appears.

  2. Click in the Canvas to define the start point of the bounding box that defines the circle, then drag until the resulting circle is the size you want, and release the mouse button to finish drawing.

    Figure. Canvas window showing an oval shape and a circle shape.

    Note: To create a perfectly symmetrical circle, press Shift while you drag. To draw the circle from its center, press Option while you drag.

    Tip: If you change a circle’s Shape Type to B-Spline in the Geometry pane of the Shape Inspector, you can use different methods to manipulate the circle.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a circle with Shape Type set to  B-Spline.
  3. Once the shape is created, press S or Esc to activate the Select/Transform tool.

To make a line
  1. Click the Rectangle (or Circle) tool and, holding the mouse button, select the Line tool.

    Figure. Line tool.

    The Line Tool HUD appears. To adjust the color and width of the line before it is drawn, use the controls in the HUD.

  2. Click in the Canvas to define the start point of the line, and keep holding down the mouse button.

  3. Drag until the resulting line is the length you want, then release the mouse button.

    Tip: Pressing Shift while dragging constrains the line movement to 45-degree angles.

    Important: Because a line is really an outline, all of the Outline parameters in the Inspector apply to a line.

  4. Once the shape is created, press S or Esc to select the Select/Transform tool.

    The Shape HUD appears.

Note: Rectangles and circles can be converted into paint strokes by selecting the shape’s Outline checkbox and choosing a different brush type in the Inspector. By default, a line is an outline, so it would only require a change in brush type. For more information, see Using a Shape Outline as a Paint Stroke.

Creating Paint Strokes

Unlike a freehand Bezier or B-Spline shape that is drawn one point at a time, a paint stroke is typically created with one continuous movement.

Technically, paint strokes are outline-only shapes created using any shape tool. An outline-only shape is indicated by a paintbrush icon in the layers tab and Timeline layers list. This icon changes to a shape icon once a shape fill is enabled.

Note: The Paint Stroke feature is a design and graphics tool, not a retouching or rotoscoping tool.

There are two ways to create a paint stroke:

  • Use the Paint Stroke tool in the Toolbar and draw a stroke in the Canvas using a stylus and tablet (or a mouse).

  • Create a shape (paint stroke, line, rectangle, or circle) in the Canvas, select the Outline checkbox, and modify the outline in the Style pane of the Shape Inspector.

To access additional paint stroke controls in the Stroke and Advanced panes of the Shape Inspector, the Brush Type parameter in the Style pane must be set to Airbrush or Image.

Note: This section discusses creating an airbrush or image brush paint stroke using the Paint Stroke tool in the Toolbar. For information about converting a shape to an editable paint stroke, see Using a Shape Outline as a Paint Stroke.

When using an airbrush or image brush preset, the Paint Stroke tool creates a shape outline that is comprised of dabs. Dabs—analogous to the cells of a replicator or particle emitter—define the appearance of the stroke. While particle cells emit a variety of different particle types, airbrush paint strokes have only a single dab type. The dabs can be very close together or spaced widely apart along the stroke. The dabs’ color, opacity, spacing, scale, angle, and so on can be modified in the Inspector once a stroke is created.

For more information on modifying a paint stroke after the stroke is created, see Stroke Pane Controls in the Inspector.

Paint strokes can be animated using behaviors or by keyframing. In addition to Basic Motion, Simulation, and Parameter behaviors, shapes have their own category of behaviors that includes a behavior that allows you to sequence effects over the length of the stroke. For more information on using the Shape behaviors, see Shape Behaviors.

Note: The stroke’s shape (defined by its control points) and open/closed state can be modified in the Canvas or Inspector. Because a stroke is a shape, it can be edited just like any other shape, using the methods described in How to Edit Shapes.

Once you click the Paint Stroke tool in the Toolbar and prior to drawing the stroke in the Canvas, you can define the color and other attributes of the stroke in the Paint Stroke Tool HUD. In the HUD, you select a preset shape style to use as your brush source.

There are several ways to set the style of a paint stroke:

  • Select a preset shape style in the Paint Stroke Tool HUD prior to drawing a stroke. If no preset shape is selected prior to drawing a stroke, a basic solid stroke (outline) is created.

  • Modify a paint stroke created with the Paint Stroke tool using the Shape Style pop-up menu in the Style pane of the Shape Inspector.

  • Select the Outline checkbox and modify the outline of a shape (circle, rectangle, and so on). The Outline checkbox can be selected or deselected in the Shape HUD or the Style pane of the Shape Inspector.

  • Drag a shape style (in the Shape Styles category) from the Library to the paint stroke object in the Layers tab. The style of the shape from the Library is applied to the paint stroke.

Depending on the effect you want, you may achieve better results using a stylus and tablet with the Paint Stroke tool. Many styles and brushes take advantage of the pen pressure and speed applied when creating the stroke using a graphics tablet. You can apply the pressure or speed to different stroke parameters, such as width, opacity, and spacing. For example, choosing Width from the Pen Pressure pop-up menu in the Paint Stroke Tool HUD results in wider strokes when you apply more pen pressure.

Note: Speed can also be read when using a mouse rather than a stylus.

Using the Write On parameter, you can record a stroke so that it “draws” over time. In this case, a Write On Shape behavior is applied to the stroke using as its settings the time it took to draw the stroke and the speed at which each section of the stroke was created. These settings can be modified after the stroke is created. A Write On behavior can also be applied after a paint stroke has been created. For more information on using the Write On behavior, see Write On.

To make a paint stroke
  1. Select the Paint Stroke tool (or press P).

    Figure. Paint Stroke tool in the Toolbar.

    The Paint Stroke tool HUD appears. (If it doesn’t appear, press F7.)

    Important: Like the other drawing tool HUDs, the Paint Stroke Tool HUD is available only after the Paint Stroke tool is selected and before you create your stroke in the Canvas. The Paint Stroke Tool HUD allows you to determine the properties derived from the pressure and speed of the stylus before the stroke is drawn.

    Figure. HUD showing Paint Stroke settings.
  2. Define a paint stroke style in the HUD:

    1. Choose an option from the Shape Style preset pop-up menu.

    2. Modify the Brush Color and Width settings.

      If a preset is not used, a basic solid stroke is created. Once the stroke is created, you can still apply a preset to the stroke using the Inspector. Presets do not override the width or color of the stroke set in the HUD.

    Note: The Pen Pressure and Pen Speed parameters become available depending upon the chosen style. These parameters are not available with a solid brush type.

  3. If you want to create a stroke that is drawn over time, select the Write On checkbox.

    When a paint stroke is created with the Write On checkbox selected, a Write On behavior is applied to the stroke. Like any other behavior, you can modify its parameters in the HUD or Inspector. For more information on using the Write On behavior, see Write On.

  4. Draw your stroke in the Canvas. Once the stroke is complete, press S or Esc to select the Select/Transform tool.

    The Paint Stroke Tool HUD is replaced with the Shape HUD. The Paint Stroke HUD parameters are identical to all other shape HUDs. Once a stroke is drawn, you must use the Inspector to modify parameters unique to the paint stroke and its dabs.

The lower portion of the Paint Stroke Tool HUD contains a sketch area and a play button. This allows you view a preview of what a paint stroke effect will look like.

To preview the paint stroke in the Paint Stroke Tool HUD’s sketch area
  1. Click the Paint Stroke tool in the Toolbar.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Select any brush style in the Paint Stroke Tool HUD, then draw a stroke in the sketch area to see a preview of the paint stroke.

    • Select the Write On checkbox, draw a stroke in the sketch area, then click the Play button to see a preview of the write-on stroke.

    • Apply a preset from the Shape Style pop-up menu to an existing stroke in the sketch area.

      If the preset is an animated stroke, the stroke is automatically drawn in the sketch area. Press the Play button to see the stroke animation again.

      Note: To create a paint stroke that is “painted” on the Canvas over time (if your chosen preset is not animated), select the Write On checkbox in the HUD prior to drawing the paint stroke in the Canvas.

      Important: Some operations, as well as the application of certain filters or a mask, cause a group to be rasterized. Because all paint strokes live in groups, this affects how strokes interact with other objects within your project. For more information, see Groups and Rasterization.

Paint Stroke Tool HUD Parameters

The Paint Stroke Tool HUD is displayed after the Paint Stroke tool is selected in the Toolbar and before a stroke is drawn. This HUD contains controls that define the color and width of the stroke and how pen pressure and speed affect the stroke (opacity, width, and so on), a checkbox that allows the stroke to be “drawn in” over time, smoothing controls, and a Shape Style pop-up menu for quick access to preset brush styles and a sketch area for sampling these brush styles.

  • Brush Color: A color well and eyedropper that set the color of the brush. For more information on using these controls, see Color Controls.
  • Width: A slider that defines the width of the paint stroke.
  • Write On: This parameter allows a stroke to be “painted” on the Canvas over time. For more information, see Write On.
  • Smoothing: Select this checkbox to create a smoother stroke with fewer control points. Paint strokes drawn with smoothing on will be created as bezier shapes. Paint strokes drawn with smoothing off will be created as linear shapes.
  • Sketch Area: An empty field where brush styles can be sampled in combination with the current Paint Stroke Tool HUD settings.

Shapes as a Layer

Once created, a shape (including paint strokes) becomes a layer. Because shape layers share most of the characteristics of other layers in Motion, you can use the transform tools—Select/Transform, Anchor Point, Shear, Drop Shadow, Four Corner, and Crop—to transform a selected shape layer. These onscreen tools are shortcuts to the layer controls in the Properties tab of the Inspector. To set specific values, or fine-tune any of the transforms, use the Properties tab in the Inspector.

For more information on the Properties tab and onscreen transform tools, see Parameters in the Properties Tab.

Important: Some operations, as well the application of certain filters or a mask, cause a group to be rasterized. When a group is rasterized, it is converted into a bitmap image. Because all shape (masks, shapes, and paint strokes) layers live in groups, this affects how shapes interact with other objects within your project. For more information, see Shapes and Rasterization.

Note: Paint strokes render in a plane, so they can always be thought of as rasterized. This is independent of other objects within the group in which the paint stroke lives. This affects how the dabs interact with objects within a paint stroke’s own group.

How to Edit Shapes

There are two ways to edit shapes. You can edit them in their entirety, like any other object, using the Transform tools, or you can adjust them point by point using the Adjust Control Points tool. The shape-editing techniques in this section apply to both shapes and masks.

You perform most of your detailed editing using a shape’s individual control points. The Transform and Shear tools are better for overall transformations of an entire shape. The following guidelines apply to all shape types: shapes, masks, and paint strokes.

Using Dynamic Guides and Snapping While Editing

The Canvas Dynamic Guides and control point snapping help you snap the selected points to one another. You can snap the points of one shape to other points on that shape, or you can snap the points of one shape to the points of a different shape.

To use control point snapping on a single shape
  1. In the View menu above the right side of the Canvas, ensure that Dynamic Guides are turned on.

  2. Choose View > Snap to ensure snapping is turned on.

    When active, a check mark appears next to the menu item.

  3. Select the shape you want to edit, click the Select/Transform tool, and while holding down the mouse button, choose the Adjust Control Points tool from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Adjust Control Points tool.

    Note: In the Canvas, you can also Control-click a shape and choose Edit Points from the shortcut menu.

  4. In the Canvas, drag a control point.

    Guides appear when the selected control point aligns with other control points on the shape.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a Bezier shape with a guide appearing when a control point is aligned with another control point on the same shape.
To use control point snapping on multiple shapes
  1. In the View menu of the Toolbar, ensure that Dynamic Guides are turned on.

  2. Choose View > Snap to ensure snapping is turned on.

    When active, a check mark appears next to the menu item.

  3. Select the shape you want to edit, click the Select/Transform tool, and while holding down the mouse button, choose the Adjust Control Points tool from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Adjust Control Points tool.

    Note: In the Canvas, you can also double-click a shape or control-click a shape and choose Edit Points from the shortcut menu to show its control points.

  4. Shift-select another shape.

  5. In the Canvas, drag a control point on the originally selected shape.

    Guides appear when the selected control point aligns with other control points on the shape being edited, as well as other shapes in the Canvas.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a Bezier shape with a guide appearing when a control point is aligned with another control point on different shape.

Use the following guidelines to turn Dynamic Guides off, so that snapping doesn’t interfere with subtle shape adjustments:

  • Press N to turn off the dynamic guides. Press N again to turn the Dynamic Guides back on.

  • Once you begin to move the selected control point, press and hold the Command key to turn off snapping as you drag the point.

    Note: If you press Command and then drag a control point, adjustable tangent handles are created. If you press Command and click a curved point, that point becomes a corner point. For more information on editing Bezier curve control points, see Editing Bezier Control Points.

To transform a Bezier or B-Spline shape
  1. Click the Select/Transform tool.

  2. Click a shape.

  3. Move, resize, or rotate the shape.

    Note: To quickly enter control point adjustment mode in the Canvas, double-click the shape.

When you move, resize, rotate, or shear a shape, you also transform its control points to match the new orientation of the shape.

Figure. Canvas window showing a shape being transformed.

For more information about how to perform object transformations, see 2D Transform Tools.

Displaying a Shape’s Control Points

There are several ways to display the control points of a shape to allow point-by-point editing in the Canvas.

To show a shape’s control points
Do one of the following:
  • Select the shape you want to edit, click the Select/Transform tool, and while holding down the mouse button, choose the Adjust Control Points tool from the pop-up menu.

    Figure. Adjust Control Points tool.

    The control points appear.

  • Click and hold the Select/Transform tool, choose the Adjust Control Points tool from the pop-up menu, then select a shape in the Layers tab or Timeline layers list.

  • Double-click a shape.

  • Control-click a shape in the Canvas, then choose Edit Points from the shortcut menu.

    Note: Overlays must be enabled in the View menu (or the Canvas View menu) in order to see the control points and spline of a shape. In addition, if Handles are turned off in the View > Overlays submenu (or the Canvas View menu), you cannot see a shape’s Bezier or B-Spline control points when editing. When editing shapes, make sure that Handles are turned on.

Once you display a shape’s control points, you need to select one or more control points to edit them.

While editing the control points of a shape, you can select another shape and remain in control point-adjustment mode. This allows for quick modification of multiple shapes’ control points.

To select another shape in control point-adjustment mode
  • While editing a shape using the Adjust Control Points tool, click an unselected shape in the Canvas or Layers tab.

    The new shape is selected in control point-adjustment mode.

Selecting and Deselecting Control Points on a Shape

The methods you can use to select and deselect points are similar to those available for selecting and deselecting shapes in the Canvas.

To select one or more control points
Do one of the following:
  • Click any control point.

  • Drag a selection box over one or more points.

  • Shift-click unselected control points to add them to the selection.

  • Shift-drag a selection box around unselected control points to add them to the selection.

    Figure. Canvas showing several shape control points selected.

Note: When your pointer is positioned over a control point, a Tool Info window appears identifying the control point name. When dragging a control point, the Tool Info window displays the point’s name and coordinates. You can choose whether or not to display this info by choosing View > Show Tool Info or pressing Option-T.

To select every control point on a shape
  • Choose Edit > Select All (or press Command-A).

To deselect one or more selected control points
Do one of the following:
  • Shift-click one or more selected points.

  • Shift-drag a selection box over one or more selected points.

To deselect every control point on a shape
Do one of the following:
  • Click the Canvas anywhere outside the selected shape.

  • Choose Edit > Deselect All (or press Command-Shift-A).

To select a specific control point (based on the order the shape is drawn)
  • Enable Show Tool Info and position the pointer over any control point to display its control point number.

Note: All shape control points are also listed by number in the Geometry tab of the Shape Inspector.

Moving Control Points to Adjust a Shape

Because the control points define the shape, simply move control points to change the shape.

To move one or more control points
  • Select one or more points, then drag them to a new position.

    As you drag one or more selected control points, the rest of the shape automatically stretches or curves to accommodate the change.

    Figure. Canvas window showing mulitple control points selected and moved together.
  • Press Command-Left Arrow, Command-Right-Arrow, Command-Up Arrow or Command-Down Arrow to nudge a point by one pixel (or Command-Shift to nudge by 10 pixels).

To constrain the movement of selected points
  1. Select one or more control points.

  2. Press Shift while you drag one of the selected points either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

    Important: Selected control points can only be moved—you cannot shear or corner-pin them. To rotate or scale them, you must use the Transform Control Points command. See Transforming Multiple Control Points.

Modifying Shape Edges

You can also select the line between two points and move the edge of the shape without affecting the rest of the shape.

To move a shape edge
  1. With the Adjust Control Points tool selected, click any edge of a shape object.

    The control points on either side of the line are selected.

  2. Drag the line segment.

    Figure. Canvas showing a line segment being adjusted.

    The distance between the two points remains constant, but the line can be moved freely. Press Shift to constrain the movement horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

  3. Click anywhere outside the selection, or switch to a different tool to release the selection.

Transforming Multiple Control Points

You can scale and rotate a group of points as if they were a single object by using the Transform Control Points command. The lines connecting the selected points to unselected points will move and adjust as necessary.

To transform a group of control points
  1. With the Adjust Control Points tool selected, drag a selection box around the points you want to modify.

  2. Choose Edit > Transform Control Points or press Command-Shift-T.

    A transform box appears around the selected points.

    Note: Transform Control Points is only available when at least two points on the same spline are selected.

    Figure. Canvas showing a group of control points being transformed.
  3. Scale, rotate, offset the anchor point, and reposition the group of points as if they were a separate object.

  4. Click anywhere outside the selection, or switch to a different tool to release the selection.

Manipulating Control Points Across Multiple Shapes

In addition to manipulating multiple control points on a single shape, you can modify multiple control points across different shapes simultaneously. This allows you to make identical control point level changes to multiple objects in one step.

To modify control points across multiple shapes
  1. With the Adjust Control Points tool selected, select the points you want to modify.

    Figure. Canvas showing control points selected across two objects.
  2. Shift-click additional objects to make their control points appear.

  3. Shift-click additional control points across multiple objects.

  4. Reposition any one point and all points will be modified accordingly.

    Figure. Canvas showing control points from two objects being adjusted together.

Note: The Transform Control Points command cannot be applied to groups of control points selected across multiple objects.

Tip: You can modify points on a mask and points on a shape simultaneously. However, you must manually select the mask in the Layers tab before its points can be added to the selection.

Adding and Deleting Control Points

If you did not create enough control points to make the shape you need, you can add more to the existing shape. You can also extend or close an open shape.

To add control points to a selected shape
  1. Select the Adjust Control Points tool.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Double-click or Option-click the edge of a shape to add a new control point.

      Note: To add control points to a B-Spline shape, double-click or Option-click the B-Spline frame’s edge, rather than the edge of the shape itself.

    • Control-click the edge, then choose Add Point from the shortcut menu.

Adding more control points does not immediately change a Bezier shape, unless you drag Bezier curve points as you create them.

Figure. Canvas window showing a Bezier point added to a shape.

Adding more control points to a B-Spline shape, on the other hand, nearly always changes its shape.

Figure. Canvas window showing a B-Spline point added to a shape.
To add control points to the end of an open shape
  1. Select an open shape with the Adjust Control Points tool.

  2. Option-click anywhere outside of the shape to add new control points to the end of the shape.

  3. Option-click the first point in the shape to close it (or place the pointer over the first point and press C).

    The closed shape is not filled.

To close an open shape
Do one of the following:
  • With the Adjust Control Points tool active, Option-click the first point in the shape to close it (or press C).

    The closed shape is not filled.

  • Control-click a control point, then choose Close Curve from the shortcut menu.

  • Display the Geometry pane in the Shape tab of the Inspector, then select Closed.

    You can reopen the shape by deselecting the Closed checkbox.

To create an open shape from a closed shape
Do one of the following:
  • Control-click a point on the shape, then choose Open Curve from the shortcut menu.

    The segment before the point (in a clockwise order) is removed from the shape. This action causes the selected point to become Control Point 1 and the remaining points to be renamed accordingly. If the originally closed shape was filled, the Fill checkbox remains selected. To disable the fill, deselect the Fill checkbox in the HUD or Style pane of the Shape Inspector.

  • Select the shape and deselect the Closed checkbox in the Geometry pane of the Shape Inspector.

    Note: The spline before the first point drawn is removed. To change the start point (the first point drawn) of the shape, Control-click a point and choose Set Start Point from the shortcut menu.

If a shape has more control points than are necessary, you can delete points from it to make it easier to edit. This can be helpful if you animate the shape later on.

To delete control points from a shape
  1. Select a shape with the Adjust Control Points tool.

  2. Select one or more points to delete, then do one of the following:

    • Choose Edit > Delete.

    • Control-click the selected points, then choose Delete Point from the shortcut menu.

    • Press Delete.

    The shape changes to adjust to the missing point. If you remove points from a closed shape, the shape remains closed.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a point deleted from a shape.

Warning: If you delete a point from a shape that already has a keyframed shape animation parameter in the Keyframe Editor, that control point is removed from the entire animation.

Locking Control Points

You can lock individual control points in a shape to fix them in place and prevent them from being accidentally adjusted. A shape with locked points can still be moved. Locking a control point simply prevents it from being adjusted while you edit a shape using the Adjust Control Points tool.

To lock and unlock points
  1. Choose the Adjust Control Points tool, then select a shape.

  2. Control-click a control point, then choose Lock Point from the shortcut menu.

    If the point was unlocked, it becomes locked. If the point was locked, Unlock Point appears in the shortcut menu, and the point becomes unlocked.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a locked control point.

Editing Bezier Control Points

The methods used to adjust Bezier shapes are similar to those used by many other applications. Bezier control points are widely used to modify curves, and allow you to easily draw any shape you may need.

Each point in a Bezier shape can be converted from a hard corner to a curve.

Figure. Canvas window showing a curved point changed into a corner point.
To convert control points from corners to curves and vice versa
Do one of the following:
  • Command-click a curved point to turn it into a corner (Linear) point.

  • Command-drag a corner point to turn it into a curved (Bezier) point, creating adjustable tangent handles.

  • Control-click one or more selected points, then choose Linear or Smooth from the shortcut menu to change the control point type.

Curved Bezier control points have two tangent handles that you use to adjust the curvature of the shape on either side of the control point. These handles can be adjusted in a variety of ways to create symmetrical and asymmetrical curves. By default, these tangent handles are locked to one another at an angle of 180 degrees, although this can be overridden to allow each tangent to be independently adjusted.

Important: If Record (automatic keyframing) is turned on, turning a corner into a curve causes an animated effect in which the corner gradually turns into the curve.

To adjust a Bezier curve using the control point’s tangent handles
Do one of the following:
  • Drag a tangent handle to adjust its length. By default, the opposing tangent is locked to 180 degrees, and adjusting the angle of one tangent automatically adjusts the other. However, the length of each tangent can be independently adjusted.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a tangent handle being lengthened independently of its opposing tangent handle.
  • Option-drag either tangent to break the relationship between opposing tangents. Once this relationship is broken, adjustments to one tangent have no effect on the other, and both tangents can be rotated freely.

    Figure. Canvas window showing one tangent handle being rotated independently of its opposing tangent handle.
  • Control-click a handle control point and choose Break Handle from the shortcut menu to break the relationship between opposing handles.

    Figure. Canvas window showing shortcut menu on a control point.
  • Option-drag a broken tangent or Control-click a handle control point and choose Link Handle from the shortcut menu to lock the angle of the tangents together again. The tangents now maintain their relationship when moved and rotated.

    Note: You can also press Command-Option and drag a control point so the tangents maintain their broken relationship when moved and rotated.

  • Control-click a handle control point and choose Align Handles from the shortcut menu to align the tangents to a 180-degree angle.

    Tip: Press Shift while you adjust a tangent to constrain its movement to 45-degree angles.

    To simultaneously modify the handles for more than one control point, Shift-select the points (on the same spline) and then adjust the tangents.

    Figure. Canvas window showing multiple tangent handles being moved simultaneously.

    Important: If Record (automatic keyframing) is enabled, curve adjustments are keyframed, creating animated shape changes.

Editing B-Spline Control Points

Editing the position of control points in B-Spline shapes is similar to editing Bezier shapes. In fact, the steps for selecting, moving, adding, deleting, and locking control points are almost exactly the same. The main difference in editing both types of shapes lies in how you manipulate and adjust curves.

The simplest, and usually fastest, way to manipulate B-Spline curves is to move one or more B-Spline points closer to or farther away from one another. When B-Spline points are moved closer to one another, a sharper curve is created. B-Spline points that are farther away from one another create shallower curves.

Figure. Canvas window showing shallow and sharp B-Spline curves.

Each B-Spline control point tugs on a section of the shape, pulling it toward itself. As a result, you manipulate a shape’s curve by moving its control points in the direction you want to pull the shape. For example, notice how every control point creating the S curve below is offset in the direction of the curve it influences.

Figure. Canvas window showing an S-curve created with B-Spline handles.

Note: You can show and hide the B-Spline frame lines that enclose B-Spline control points by choosing View > Overlays > Lines.

By default, B-Spline shapes have no corners. While this is the default behavior, you can adjust the amount of curvature at each individual B-Spline control point. This allows you to create sharper curves using fewer control points, even creating corners at a single point, if necessary.

The easiest way to adjust B-Spline point curvature is by Command-dragging the control point. You can also switch among three preset degrees of curvature.

To switch a B-Spline control point among three degrees of curvature
Do one of the following:
  • Command-click one or more selected B-Spline control points to switch between three progressively sharper amounts of curvature.

    Figure. Canvas window showing B-Spline points set to Very Smooth, Smooth, and Linear.
  • Control-click a B-Spline point, then choose Very Smooth, Smooth, or Linear from the shortcut menu.

You can also adjust B-Spline control points along a sliding scale by holding down the Command key and dragging.

To adjust the amount of curvature in a B-Spline control point by dragging
  • Command-drag one or more selected B-Spline control points to make their curves progressively sharper.

    • Dragging away from the point makes the curve progressively sharper.

    • Dragging toward the point makes the curve progressively looser.

    Note: Once the handle appears, you can modify the curve without the Command key. Drag the handle away from the point to make the curve sharper. Drag the handle toward the point to make the curve looser.

    If you later decide you don’t like the B-Spline curve adjustment you made, you can always reset the degree of curvature by Command-clicking the point (or Control-clicking and choosing an option from the shortcut menu) to revert it to the default curvature amount.

Using a Shape Outline as a Paint Stroke

You can convert a shape outline into a paint stroke by modifying the Brush Type in the Inspector. Once a shape outline is assigned a different brush type, all of the paint stroke parameters become available. You can modify and animate its brush parameters, as well as apply the Sequence Paint behavior.

To convert an existing shape into an editable paint stroke
  1. Select an existing shape.

  2. In the Shape HUD or Style pane of the Shape tab, select the Outline checkbox.

    Modify any Outline parameter you want. In this example, the outline is widened and colored orange.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a circle shape with and without the Outline checkbox selected.

    Note: A line shape has no fill and is a paint stroke upon creation.

  3. If you don’t want the shape filled, deselect the Fill checkbox in the Shape HUD or Inspector.

    Note: Solid must be chosen from the Brush Type pop-up menu in the Style pane of the Shape Inspector for the shape fill options to remain available.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a circle shape with an outline but no fill.

    Once Fill is deselected, the shape icon in the Layers tab becomes a paint stroke icon.

    Figure. Layers tab showing circle shape with a paint stroke icon.
  4. In the Style pane of the Shape tab, choose Airbrush from the Brush Type pop-up menu.

    Inspector showing Brush Type pop-up menu.

    Once the Brush Type is changed to Airbrush (or Image), the following occurs:

    • The stroke softens because it is using a soft brush type. A paint stroke is comprised of dabs and the brush type is the source for the dabs. The brush profile can be modified to vary opacity within the brush. You can apply a custom opacity gradient to the brush profile.

    • The Stroke pane becomes available. Use the Stroke pane to set the Stroke Color mode and Brush Scale parameters, and to adjust various options.

    • The Advanced pane becomes available. The Advanced pane contains a single group of controls that allow the dabs of a paint stroke to be animated like particles. For more information on Dynamics, see Advanced Pane Controls In the Inspector.

      Note: When a paint stroke is created using the Paint Stroke tool in the Toolbar, additional stylus parameters appear in the Advanced pane.

  5. Use the controls in the Style, Stroke, and Advanced panes of the Shape Inspector to modify or animate your paint stroke.

    For a complete description of these parameters, see Style Pane Controls in the Inspector, Stroke Pane Controls in the Inspector, and Advanced Pane Controls In the Inspector. In the example below, the Additive Blend parameter is enabled in the Style pane. Additionally, the Color Over Stroke, Spacing Over Stroke, Width Over Stroke, Brush Scale, and Brush Scale Randomness parameters are modified in the Stroke pane.

    Figure. Canvas window showing circle transformed into an animated paint stroke.