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Macromedia Freehand MX Extrusions, Part 2

Creating complex forms from simple objects By Dave Nagel
3D extrusion isn't unique to Freehand MX by any means. But the latest release of the program does provide some fantastic tools for moving beyond the obvious uses of this feature--such as zooming logos and the like--and allows you easily to generate complex, eye-popping forms that would otherwise take hours to produce manually.

Last week in Part 1 of this series, we went over in some detail the basics of the Extrude tool, and I highly recommend you review that four-page article before continuing with Part 2. You can find the previous story here. (My DMN subscribers can find the ad-free version here.)

This time around, I'm going to show you how to use the Extrude tool to created detailed, complex forms from simple objects. These might be used in the creation of logos or backgrounds, or they can be used simply as decorative elements in a larger composition. This tutorial will include four parts: creating the object, creating the bevel, creating the basic extrusion and customizing the extrusion.

Creating your objets d'extrusion
The effect of your extrusion will depend heavily on the initial object shape you use, as well as any fills, strokes and effects you apply. For example, a simple square can become a flower-like object.

A circle can turn into a swirling cone or interlacing ribbons.

And a star ... well, you get the idea.

Essentially, any simple object can be manipulated into a complex form. You can use any kind of fill or stroke or live effect to manipulate the look of your simple object. And you're not just limited to solids either. You can just as easily create spirographic effects or other geometric effects using a stroked object with no fill.

But here's what you need to know when creating your initial object.

1. The extruded object will inherit the fill color of your starting object but will ignore fill effects like gradients and lenses. (The primary color of the gradient or lens will be used for the extrusion, though the original object will retain its fill parameters.)

2. Exceedingly complex starting objects will seriously hog system resources and can send Freehand MX into a CPU death spiral.

3. The final shape of your extruded object will be affected immensely by the angle of your starting object. A square tilted 45 degrees, for example, can look entirely different from a square with no rotation applied.

4. You can always adjust your initial object later, so don't sweat it too much when you're getting started.

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