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Drawing Outside the Lines ... Just a Little

Creating wet edge effects in Macromedia Freehand MX By Dave Nagel
Did you ever think you'd see the day when the word "painterly" could be applied to a vector graphics program? I didn't. For the longest time I thought illustration apps were good for nothing more than creating Patrick Nagel knockoffs and PeeChee™ notebook-style graphics. And I was completely right, if a little snotty about the whole thing. But the latest generation of applications from Macromedia, Creature House and Adobe have introduced creative tools that finally make it possible to draw outside the lines (or paths or polygons or Bezigons) while maintaining the advantages of vector-based graphics applications--editability and resolution independence.

Now, we've discussed several of the creative aspects of these programs in the past. But this time around I thought I'd show you a more practical application of some of the new features in Macromedia Freehand MX--the ability to use multiple fills and effects to create the look of or wet edges on a vector-based object. Here's an idea of what I'm talking about.

So what we're going to do is to take a simple object--in this case text converted to paths--and give it a sort of sketchy edge, along with some overflowing fills in order to create the effect of something that resembles--at least to me--charcoal and wash.

Going into this tutorial, you really need to understand only one thing about the process: In Freehand MX, objects (except for live text) can have multiple fills and strokes. And to each of these fills and strokes, we can apply multiple live effects. Let's take a look at how to use these new capabilities to achieve our painterly look.

1. Select your object. If you're working with text, delete your basic fill and then convert your text to paths (Text > Convert to Paths). Then add a medium-gray or light gray Basic fill.

2. Now, in the Object panel, choose the Add Effect menu, and add a Raised Emboss (Add Effect > Bevel & Emboss > Raised Emboss). Leave the effect's values at default. (You can always change it later, if you don't like the way it works out.)

3. Now in the Object panel, add another effect, this time the Sketch effect. At first, it doesn't look like much.

But then change the default number of copies from 1 to 8.

And you wind up with a nice, stratified effect, something you might want to use on its own for a future project.

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