I have to start this post by saying I am not an expert in Corel X8, but I have been using vector graphics for a very long time, and there are some labour-saving tips I’ve learned along the way that I’d like to share. The first of these involves a basic feature called ‘Object position’:
The ‘X’ and ‘Y’ numbers describe the left/right and up/down position of the object on the page. But they’re more than just co-ordinates – they can also be used to change the position of the object on the page, precisely. So precisely in fact, that you can use ‘Object position’ to move your shapes one pixel at a time.
What’s a pixel?
If you zoom in on a digital image far enough, you will eventually see a grid of coloured squares. Each one of those squares is a pixel, and they are the building blocks of the most common digital images:
In the screenshot above, the image has been magnified to over 3000%. Despite this extreme magnification, however, small errors of alignment can and do show up in much large images. In the following screenshot I created two, almost identical pairs of shapes. The pair on the left is just one pixel shy of being aligned perfectly. The pair on the right is aligned perfectly. When you place the images against a contrasting background, the small imperfection in pair A can be seen as the hint of a ‘bump’:
The next screenshot is a super closeup of that one pixel difference:
In bitmap images [the kind you get from photographs], there are so many shades of pixels that you would never notice such a tiny imperfection. In vector drawings, however, especially of objects with straight lines, one pixel can make a difference.
The magnitude of the difference one pixel can make was brought home to me over the last few months as I’ve been working on the covers to my books. Like most people, I began by eyeballing the position of the shapes and moving them around manually. If I’m careful, I can line them up perfectly, most of the time. But if I have a lot of shapes, and they all have to be aligned perfectly, the strain on my eyes, neck and shoulders can become intense. That’s where the ‘Object position’ comes in. Instead of relying on hand-eye co-ordination, I simply type in co-ordinates, and X8 does the work for me.
So how do you use ‘Oject position’?
The first step is to ensure that your ‘Object position’ is counting pixels not milimetres etc. To change your page setup to pixels, click on the Layout tab and select ‘Page setup’ from the drop down menu as shown:
Next, select ‘Pixels’ from the drop down list and click ‘OK’:
The next step is to learn what those X and Y numbers actually mean.The X numbers show the object’s position from left to right, and increasing the number moves the object further to the right. For example, if the object’s starting position is 50, changing that number to 60 will move the object 10 pixels to the right. By the same token, changing the number from 50 to 40 will move the object 10 pixels to the left.
The following is a before-and-after screenshot of a real project I’m working on:
The X position of the shape in the pic on the left is 2266. The X position of the shape on the right is 2273. In other words, the shape moved 7 pixels to the right.
Unfortunately, using the Y numbers is not so intuitive. For reasons I will never understand, you have to decrease the number to move the object down and increase it to move the object up. In the following before-and-after shot, I increased the Y number from 406 to 411 in order to move the object up into alignment:
Using the Y position, in particular, is a bit hard to get used to, but once you do, a combination of up/down and left/right adjustment will ensure that your objects align with each other perfectly, every time.
The mantra to remember is:
- Left = less
- Right = more
- Up = more
- Down = less
In the next post, I’ll be talking about converting shapes to curves, adding and deleting nodes via the right click menu, and how to create a ‘mitred’ joint between two shapes.