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Working with the Polyline Tool

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In tracing complex curved shapes, its often easier to rough it in and then refine it using the reshape tool. The various vertex types behave differently than many other programs and take a fair amount of practice to get consistent results.

When adding and subtracting surfaces, extraneous and overlapping points are often introduced, especially where curved segments meet straight segments.


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Jim - You probably know all this, but for anyone having Tracing Troubles, here are a few tracing basics I have discovered:

1. Place the image to be traced on a layer by itself so it doesn't constantly get selected or moved during the trace.

2. Draw the trace on a different layer, with visibility set for only these two layers. Trace with a line color and weight which is visible over the image.

3. Polyline tool has several types of vertices - Corner, Bezier, Cubic Spline, several types of arc. During drawing of a polyline, toggle through these by pressing the U key to change vertex type at next click.

4. To temporarily disable all snaps, press/hold the back quote key. It's above the tab key on many keyboards, to left of the 1 key.

5. QWER & ASDF keys toggle the individual snaps on/off while drawing.

6. While drawing the poly, press Delete key to undo most recent click

7. Polylines with lots of points get laggy. A polyline bogs down at about 75 points on my system, maybe more with better hardware. Workaround is to end the laggy one and start a new poly with a new color. Compose them later if needed.

Enough for now


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I always draw the rough outline in corner mode and then change each vertex as required. When I add a new vertex once again it is always a corner on then I will change it.

A good tip is that in corner mode you can press and hold the left-mouse button and it will temporarily switch to a bezier.

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Thanks all,

I've used most if not all these techniques, perhaps if I need to draw these shapes more frequently I should be using a tablet. I guess my issues boil down to the interface, & how long it takes one to refine the polygon.

I have also found that using the 2D Polygon Tool & the Inner Boundary Mode helps move things along if I use objects as, well, boundaries. It still takes me a lot of time to get a nice smooth result.

Smoothing seems to result in an unwanted object.

Edited by Jim Smith
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