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Illustrator Node Editing Question

Discussion in 'Adobe' started by Fred Weiss, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    In Illustrator it is easy enough convert a node from a smooth point to a cusp. Holding down the Alt key and dragging a handle does it. But is there any way to convert a cusp to a smooth point without, at the same time, collapsing the node handles and having to reextend them?
     
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  2. sdgenxr

    sdgenxr Member

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    Not sure what you mean Fred. Are you talking about rounding corners without actually moving the path?

    Ok, I think I know what you are talking about now. If you ask me the simplest way to do turn a rounded corner into a pointed one would be to just add another shape to the rounded corner. IE, draw a triangle with the dimensions that you want for the point and just merge the two objects from the pathfinder pallet.
     
  3. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    No, this would apply to path editing. Picture, for example, that you have just set a circle and you want to edit it into a heart shape. You would change the top and bottom nodes to cusps and then edit with the control handle to begin changing to a heart. This change can be done with the direct selection cursor and by holding down alt before clicking on either extended control handle. Doing so changes it from a smooth point to a cusp making wach handle move independent of the other. You can also do this with convert anchor point tool when the control handles are already extended.

    But you can't apparently do the reverse. I do it all the time in FlexiSign when editing paths. It's very handy when cleaning up an autotrace that is loaded with cusp points.

    Clear as mud?
     

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  4. sdgenxr

    sdgenxr Member

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    Ah, got it now. The only thing that I can think of is to use the convert achor tool and click on the anchor to collapse the handles then pull them back out to approximately where you want. It sould pull both sides out evenly in opposite directions.
     
  5. The Vector Doctor

    The Vector Doctor Very Active Member

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    Fred, I know what you are saying, but I don't know of any way to prevent that. Maybe some obscure plug-in would help.
     
  6. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    Anchor point editing still remains as a major stumbling block in Illustrator. This is one area where CorelDRAW is far away superior (and has been for many years/versions).

    There is no way to convert anchor points between smooth and cusp values, or any way to convert curved path segments to straight line segments without manually altering points on the path -and thus changing the shape and integrity of that path. Arrgh!!!

    CorelDRAW has had buttons to change values of multiple selected points, as well as perform many transform operations on those selected points, for many versions. In fact, I can't even remember a version of CorelDRAW that completely lacked these controls. I was editing paths using some of those tools when Jurassic Park first hit theaters in 1993!

    Macromedia Freehand has also featured some button-type control over changing anchor point values. Freehand also had some unique features, allowing for numerical placement of specific anchor points.

    I have repeatedly made requests through Adobe's user forums for Illustrator to adopt some CAD-like control over anchor points rather than continue with only offering very clumsy, inaccurate manual control. Ugh! Hopefully Adobe will finally wake up and add these controls with AI CS3.

    I would very much rather see Illustrator improve the functions of its core mission of vector object modeling than needlessly bloat the code with more features from Photoshop, InDesign, GoLive, Flash, etc.
     
  7. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    That's what I figured. I guess I'll just keep using Flexi.
     
  8. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    Yep. Flexi has a LOT more point editing tools.

    There's a number of plug-ins for Illustrator that can add some of the same capabilities. However, many of those tools cost more than a version upgrade for Illustrator. For instance, CADtools for Illustrator runs $249.

    I'm not really into conspiracy theories, but at times I wonder if companies like Hot Door forge deals with Adobe to keep them from adding the basic point editing tools Illustrator needs -all so they can keep selling those plug-ins.

    There's comparisons to make in with the Photoshop plug-ins field. Anyone remember how much Knock Out Pro cost a few years ago? The first time I saw the masking application (when Ultimatte was selling it) the tool cost $2000. Then it dropped to $600 as Photoshop started adding comparable tools within Photoshop. Now Corel sells the current version of KnockOut for under $100.

    LivePicture cost $6000 when it was introduced -but then that was when RAM cost $40 per megabyte. MetaCreations was practically giving away the Mac-based proxy image editor before it died off. There's little need for that kind of program now that you can stuff a notebook with 2GB or more of memory for not much money.

    Adobe needs to look at those past trends and results on software. Although Illustrator seems like it is in a very safe position right now, it only takes some minor developments for the situation to radically change.
     
  9. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Found a Plugin That Does It !

    Went looking and the very last one provides for converting back to a smooth point and a ton of other very nice editing features for Illustrator.

    Xtream Path Plugin
     
  10. iSign

    iSign Verboten

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    Fred, while I seem to be able to get my node editing done in Illustrator eventually... I don't really take the time to solve the challenges that arise, or attempt to learn the features that may be there already to help me...or look for others that may be out there.

    This post points out to me that this is just one of many areas that a short video lesson like your sample from Brad the other day could be quite helpful.

    Your comments shed light on some of the fuzzy areas of my understanding of the program, but my not being focused enough to go launching illustrator & experimenting right now... I'm not learning & memorizing as much I could from your comments.

    While, of course, I should take the initiative to come back & do that when I am more awake... I also wanted to make the suggestion that you consider a "filming" of node editing to be a good video lesson that you might want to author some day (perhaps both in Illustrator & Flexi etc.)

    As a related topic... isn't there some way to create a "film" of whatever is happening on your monitor, so that by simply including a tape recorded voice-over commentary describing what is happening , & mentioning keyboard shortcuts that can't be seen, that tutorials of design work could be done without even having a camera?

    When I've been using PCanywhere, or remote desktop connection, (I forget which) I think I recall a button for "record" which I assumed to be this type of recording.
     
  11. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    If I were to give a complete response to your post, it would end up filling several pages. Here's the short version.

    I was looking for a solution out of my own long term need. I have been a licensed user of Illustrator since version 3 and still use it for little more than a backup application to be able to read the files of others and to be able to create files which will be universally readable by others. In the area of vector drawing and editing, I have gone through Illustrator and CorelDRAW and moved on because I recognized their shortcomings in both precision and technical function. They are geared for the printed page and for work done by eye instead of by "the numbers" as in CAD and some CAS applications.

    Owning several seats of Gerber Graphix Advantage was never a contender to solve my needs either. It is an application which is easy to learn and use but full of shortcomings because of that approach ... and way too opposed to open architecture vs. proprietary approaches.

    Next came CasMate and it was getting closer. But while open architecture in its approach and very powerful in the aras of creating high precision vectors, the developers were opposed to embracing PostScript and/or Bezier technology. As such their output was never acceptable for files to provide to others as the universal acceptance of PostScript became the standard.

    Then I found FlexiSign in 1994. It was like Illustrator on steroids. Precise, intuitive, powerful. Version 5.8.2 was, IMHO, and remains the best vector drawing and editing application ever written ... answering all my requirements in that area.

    Then Scanvec (CasMate) bought out Amiable (FlexiSign) and their influence was evident in version 6 of Flexi. It began to evolve into something easier to learn and use (and therefore easier to market). As it became more powerful and sophisticated, it lost much of the what it had before the merger.

    Now my version 5.8.2 will no longer work on current operating systems and I am left with a highly evolved but cumbersome version 7.6.2 and long for something current that comes closer to the old version. I also dislike hauling my dongle back and forth from office to home and do not wish to purchase a second copy of Flexi if I can avoid that expense.

    So I returned to Illustrator 12 (CS 2) and still find many shortcomings. This time, however, there is an evolved and supported aftermarket which, I am hoping will provide the balance of what it may take to get Illy up to what I need to draw and edit vectors precisely and efficiently.

    - - - - -

    With regard to vector creation and editing tutorials, it has always been my intention to create them. It would take far more than one two minute tutorial however. I figure three or four on basics just to get viewers up to a point of understanding what I would cover at an intermediate level. But it is high on my list and will almost certainly happen this year. Brad's offer to produce digital movies for Signs 101 brings me a big step closer to doing that.

    I hope in the meantime, other members will create some video footage and submit it.

    I would like to be brought up to by from knowledgeable members as to the terminology and available technology for creating digital content in the form of polished tutorials of what is happening on the instructor's computer monitor ... if anyone wants to chime in. Of particular interest would be anything that is built into Windows and we may already have or can acquire individually at reasonable rates to create content to be submitted and polished if necessary by Brad or myself. Hope I made that clear.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2006
  12. Ian Stewart-Koster

    Ian Stewart-Koster Active Member

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    Fred, except for the tedium of rebooting, you could still set up a dual-boot system, and load win98 & Flexi 5.82 and use it till your heart's content! You'd need a fat 32 partition however, and a 'universal data storage' partition also in fat32 format. which can be accessed by XP as well as 98.

    (good thread- thanks!)
     
  13. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    In all fairness, accuracy within any vector drawing application is very relative. All of these applications use more or less the same level of "drawing units." However they don't apply them in the same way.

    Some can scale their drawing spaces up to large sizes, but with the tradeoff of small objects on that page being drawn less accurately. CAD programs will flatten curves out into a series of only a few line segments and type converted to vector objects can be garbled.

    The products from Scanvec and Amiable are affected by some of those CAD-like limits. CASmate could even be crashed by certain floating point limit errors. I've been hit by the dreaded White Box warning: "Floating Point Error: Square Root of Negative Number."

    CorelDRAW can have its artboard go up to 100' X 100' but with the tradeoff that artwork precision is limited to three decimal points.

    Adobe Illustrator CS2 can dimension objects up to four decimal points. But its artboard is limited to 227" X 227". Many users have requested larger artboards, but Adobe contends that would compromise object accuracy at normal sizes. Introducing drawing at scale schemes would introduce fuzzy results on fractions.

    With just a few key additions (anchor point alignment functions, anchor point conversion buttons, better path clean up funtions, etc.) Illustrator would be an extremely powerful tool. CS2 is far more functional than many of its predecessors, but it still has room to improve.
     
  14. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    When I refer to working by the numbers I'm talking about things like positioning (which Illustrator does just fine), and also things like setting angles, snapping to horizontal or vertical, capturing angles and segment lengths and snapping different segments to those numbers, physically setting the angle of a smooth node. All of which makes for geometrically accurate files that are glitch free and cut rapidly.

    Flexi 5.8.2 had a great little module for doing this. Basically select a segment and click on a right arrow to capture the length and angle. Select another segment and click on a left arrow to apply either number. Built in calculation for changing the reference numbers to add 90 degrees or opposite.

    Doing a roof line for a contractors logo. Select and capture the left angle ... select the right angle and apply the opposite angle to it. Select the bottom parallel section and snap it to parallel. Select each end segment and either snap to vertical or snap to 90 degrees shifted from top segment angle.

    Very quick and, for those who understand some basic plane geometry, easy. The result is very precise and problem free when it gets to production on any device.
     
  15. SSS_Tech

    SSS_Tech New Member

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    Whenever I want to put a finishing touch on a design I use the SMOOTH TOOL in AICS2. You simply select the tool and trace over the node area that you wish to smooth out and it really does a nice job without disturbing the bounding nodes. Try drawing some crooked node paths and try it out. It takes a steady hand but it is well worth the effort.
     
  16. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Yes that's a decent tool but really aimed, I think, at use with a tablet or my dream device, the Wacom Cintiq.
     
  17. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    The smooth tool is only appropriate to use in certain cases where it doesn't kill the quality to have the paths altered slightly. I only use the smooth tool on items that have been auto-traced or manually digitized from scans of "organic" non-technical objects.

    If you're doing any sort of technical illustration work, or working on other things that demand precision (such as creating custom type) then the smooth tool is a non-starter.

    I can do a lot of things from within Illustrator. But if I need to do a lot of work at the anchor point editing level I just fire up CorelDRAW 9 or X3 instead. Once I have the objects built up to my satisfaction then I'll bring them back into Illustrator to apply color, effects and other stuff (or take the paths in Photoshop for other types of work).

    The Illustrator development team obviously still doesn't get it in terms of the app's role in technical drawing. Illustrator has always been more designed for people to draw objects "freehanded" and not in any technical nature. That's why the program has such a clumsy anchor conversion point tool which demands you manually alter the shape of the path just to change a point.

    By contrast, in CorelDRAW I can grab the shape tool (or "node editing tool" as some call it) select many anchor points in an object and convert them from straight line points to curve cusp points without changing the shape of the path at all. That has been a very handy feature. It certainly helped work around some Flash bugs on importing artwork. Some versions of Flash I have used would drop some points out of AI or EPS imported artwork. If I converted all the points to curve points (even the segments that appeared like straight lines) the artwork would import perfectly.
     
  18. SSS_Tech

    SSS_Tech New Member

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    Thanks that is helpful information.
     
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