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The Freehand MX Extrude Tool, Part 1

The basics of extrusion creation and modification By Dave Nagel
One of the powerful features in Freehand MX is the all-new Extrude tool. Over the course of the next several weeks, we'll be presenting you with some tutorials on using this tool in ways you might not have considered before. But without some background, each one of these would require several sub-tutorials. So I've decided to cover a good number of the issues that might arise for you in this preliminary overview of the Extrude tool itself.

In case you're completely unfamiliar, the Extrude tool introduced in Freehand MX allows you to take 2D objects and pull them out into simulated 3D space. There's nothing particularly unusual about this in itself, but the Freehand MX version of this feature provides many more options than other simple extrusion tools. Plus, since Freehand MX introduces some new workflow methods, particularly in the areas of stokes and fills, it's a good idea to step back and examine how all of this works together.

Creating and modifying extrusions
The actual creation of extrusions is quite simple. First, choose the Extrude tool from the tool palette. Then, using this tool, click on your object and drag the tool across your canvas to pull it out. You can extrude any single object, including text, as well as groups of objects. And, once you make your initial extrusion, you can interactively adjust the depth, vanishing point and origin, even after deselecting the object. In other words, Freehand remembers that the object is an extrusion and maintains its editability indefinitely. The example below shows these processes in action on a star-shaped polygon.

Click play to watch.

Interaction with the Extrude tool, however, is only one way to modify your extrusion. You can also have control over the extrusion in the Object palette. Here you can set the length, vanishing point, position and rotation of your object numerically for precision work. (For example, if you want your extrusion to pull directly back from your foreground object, you can copy your original coordinates into the vanishing point fields, something we'll be doing in our next tutorial.)

Modifying the original shape
One of the things that might be confusing about extrusions is how you get back to the original object without removing the extrusion. This you can do a couple of ways. First, you can simply click on the element you wish to modify using the Subselect tool.

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