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Draw shape with curved and straight lines with 1 line

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Im trying to draw a shape like the icon for the polyline tool but im having trouble drawing it with one line.

Each time i go to draw a straight line and the move on to the next one it trys to curve the point where to two lines join, how can i get it to let me make a join thats not curved like the one circled in green in the image below ?

Just to confirm i know i could draw this polyline icon shape as several smaller shapes and combine them, but its actually the principal of mixed curved and straight lines with non curved joins that im after rather than that particular shape.


Edited by LLI Design
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It sort of depends on wether you think the curved part is a bezier or an arc.

This assumes you are drawing clockwise-

If it's an arc:

1. In corner vertex mode draw the up side of the peak

2. click the bottom right of the peak to finish

3. switch to Point on Arc mode

4. Click for 2nd point on arc

5. Click for 3rd point on arc

6. Switch to corner vertex mode

7. finish shape?.

If it's a bezier

1. In corner vertex mode draw the up side of the peak

2. click the bottom right of the peak to finish

3. Switch to Bezier mode

4. Click for control point of bezier curve

5. Switch to corner vertex mode

6. Click to end the bezier curve and start the straight segment on the right side.

The difference is that the arc mode needs 3 clicks to define the arc (it uses the end of the straight segment as the first point) and the bezier only needs to be the active mode while setting the control point.



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That's pretty funny - if the polyline tool couldn't draw it's own icon.

I just checked & yes it can.

As Michael says it's all about alternating between the mode - use the u key on the keyboard to cycle through the various modes.

I started on the right with the straight working clockwise without trouble to complete it at the rounded orangerie roof.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

You will also see different behavior with the polyline tool if you click while the cursor is in motion. For instance if you click, move the cursor upwards, stop, click, you'll get a straight line.

However if you click, move the cursor up and right and click while in motion, the drawn line segment will begin to bend to follow your cursor. This will happen in the first mode without you needing to change modes, but its more for freeform drawing, for more precise control its best to change the modes manually as described above.

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Having drawn thousands of polyline shapes there are two pieces of advice that have helped me -

- use the click-drag method for curves as Jim describes rather than switching modes. The one downside to the click-drag method is it creates more points than you actually need to make a shape.

- rough the shape in and clean it up through editing. You have way more control this way as editing is far more intuitive than drawing the shape initially.

Beyond that it just takes a lot of practice. Until the tool is improved so it works like the majority of other drawing programs (ie. Illustrator) this is the best approach I've found.


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Adding or removing or converting vertices plus pressing the back quote key to temporarily turn off snaps during vertex move makes things way easier for edits, eg to match curves on imported jpg.

Kevin, you are sooo right. Rough shape then edit may seem backwards, but it's often the best way in my workflow, too.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all the input, is there a simpler way to draw these sort of lines needed for RCP (reflective ceiling plan) circuits ?

I can keep switching between the bezier and corner vertex tools, but its quite allot of clicking back and forth, is there a simpler way ?

If you've used adobe illustrator before the pen tool is a great example of how easy this sort of line should be to draw.

Im using vwx Designer, but would be tempted to upgrade to spotlight if it provided an easier way to do this.


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Use the Polyline by Point on Arc (Set start point) mode to draw them. It does exactly what you want, no switching modes for the "valleys". It is the fifth one in from the right. At least in VW 2011. Click once to start, click once at arc top, click once at valley, click once at next arc top, etc., No dragging between clicks. You may want to set it so it has no fill.

And switching to Spotlight would be a downgrade. Designer has everything Spotlight has and more. It is a combination of all the specialty modules. It has everything.

And for what it's worth, I'm one of the few people who think the Polyline tool in VW is actually easier to use, and edit, then the one in Illustrator. Especially to edit. If you zoom in really close in Illustrator to move a point you can't grab the handles, they're off screen. You can do finer shaping in VW. But that's probably because I learned the VW tool first, so it imprinted itself on my brain.

Edited by Monadnoc
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Yes, I agree. Explore the MEP tools, they'll help for all MEP stuff. Especially if you're doing it "by hand" now.

The Electrical Panels to use with the Circuiting tool are in the VW Libraries > Objects - Building Services > Electrical Panels

The way the Circuiting Tool works, they really should be a tool included in the MEP palette. Makes it not very intuitive to use, but that's VW.

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  • 4 months later...

"However if you click, move the cursor up and right and click while in motion, the drawn line segment will begin to bend to follow your cursor."

Is there a way to disable this "implied curve" behaviour? It's very eager to draw a curve when a straight line is desired.....

Edited by Ride
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