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Windows Draw 6 or CompletePublisher'99

Turning Text Into Graphic Shapes

Editors Note: Originally published as Micrografx Windows Draw 6, the current version of this program is published by Sierra as CompletePublisher'99. For all practical purposes, they are the same program.

This tutorial explains how, using Micrografx Windows Draw 6, or, Sierra Complete Publisher, to turn a string of text into individual graphic shapes. For simplicity's sake, both programs are referred to in the tutorial as "Draw".

There are lots of fun things you can do for your scrapbook pages using this technique: You can colorize individual letters in a headline, partially overlap letters, or, change the base line or slightly rotate each individual letter to give it a less uniform appearance. You can also use letters as shapes to slice a photo or other image with the end result being a photo that looks like it's inside the individual letters.

The ability of Draw to successfully convert text into graphic shapes varies, depending on the font you're using and the amount of text you're trying to convert. Transforming text into graphic shapes works best with a short string of text and font faces that are not too ornate. Too much text or too fancy a font may be too complicated for Draw to convert.

I would suggest starting out with just one or two words of text and using a bold font with a simpler shape structure, like Arial Black. This is also a really good font to experiment with when you're ready to try slicing a photograph into a word.

To follow along with this tutorial you'll need to have:

- Either Micrografx Windows Draw 6 or Sierra's CompletePublisher'99.

Lets get started!

What we're going to do is to create a headline, convert it to text, colorize the individual letters, and then overlap the letters slightly.

1. Start Draw and create a new blank page. Make sure Draw's Visual ToolBar is active.

2. Click on the Create Text button at the top of the Visual ToolBar.

3. The instructions in the Visual ToolBar gives us two options. We're going to select the first option which is to "Create Text Object".

4. Just like the Visual ToolBar instructions prompt you to do, click on your page. This will start a new text object without any word wrap. (Without word wrap, Draw will keep the text in a single line and will not "wrap" it.)

5. Type in the word "ABC", all in uppercase.

6. Next, click on "Select all Text" on the Visual ToolBar. This will select all of the text we typed in. This is important because before we can change the font and type size, we have to have the text we want to change selected.

7. Now click on "Change Font". This will change the Visual ToolBar and you'll see a list of the font names for all the fonts you have installed in your system.

8. Click on any font name you see in the list. When you do, the text changes to that font face.

9. We want to use Arial Black, so after you've clicked on any font, type "AR" on your keyboard. When you do, the program will scroll through the alphabetical list of fonts to the first font name that starts with "AR".

Note: When you type "AR", you should type the "R" right after you type the "A". If you wait too long before typing the "R", the program will first go to the first font name that starts with an "A", and then to the first font name that starts with an "R".

10. So, if we typed "AR" correctly, we should be at the first font name that starts with "AR" and not too far below that, you should see Arial Black. When you find it, click on Arial Black to change the font.

11. The next thing we want to do is change the size of the text to a large size. At the bottom of the Visual ToolBar, right above "Customize" is a rectangular window with a number in it. That number is the current size of the font in points. ( 72 points is equal to 1 inch, 36 points is equal to 1/2 inch.) On the right side of the rectangle showing the point size is a down arrow.

12. Click on the down arrow and you'll see a list of numbers for different point sizes you can select. Scroll down through the list until you can see 120 and click on it. When you do the size of the font will change to 120 points tall.

13. Next, we're going to change the color of the font and give it an outline with a different color.

14. Click on the "Customize" button. This will open the Object Properties window.

15. In the Object Properties window, click on the "Fill" tab. In the Color section of the window, click on the down arrow. This will open a basic color palette. In the color palette, select a nice bright red and then click on the Apply button. When you do the color of your text changes to the color you selected.

16. Now, click on the "Line" tab in the Object Properties window. In the "Line Style" section, click on "Wide" and click the Apply button. Then, next to "Line Thickness" use the arrows to scroll to the number 3 and click the Apply button again. When you do, you will see that a line 3 points wide has been applied to the text as an outline.

17. Next, lets change the color of the line by clicking on the down arrow next to line color and selecting a dark blue from the color palette. Click on the Apply button again and the line color for the outline of your text changes to the color you selected.

18. We're done with the object properties window, so click on the OK button and the window closes.

19. Up until this point we've just been editing a text block. Now we're going to turn it into shapes!

20. On the Visual ToolBar, click on "Finished Formatting". When you do, the Visual ToolBar window will change and a new set of options will appear.

21. In the new options that appear in the Visual ToolBar, click on "Distort Text" and then on "Separate Each Letter". This will turn each letter in the text into an individual graphic shape and a blue hatched line will appear around the group of letters.

22. Each letter is now a shape and the 3 letters are all grouped together. If you click outside the blue hatched rectangle, the "group" of shapes is deselected. If you click on any one of the letters, the whole group is selected.

23. Lets ungroup the letters and then we will overlap them. First, click outside the group to make the blue hatched line go away and then click on any one of the letters to select the entire group. Now, from the "Tools" menu, select the "Ungroup" command. The letters will be ungrouped and you now have three individual objects.

24. Home stretch here! Click on the "B" so that it's selected and drag it so that it overlaps about 1/4th of the "A" and then drag it so that the bottom of the "B" is also a little lower than the "A". Lets do one more thing while we have the "B" selected. Go to the "Draw" menu and select the "Send to Back" command. That will put the "B" on the bottom of our "pile" of objects.

25. Now click on the "C" and drag it so that it overlaps about 1/4th of the "B". With the "C" still selected, go back to the "Draw" menu and select the "Send to Back" command so that the "C" will be behind both the "A" and the "B".

OK, that's the basics for turning text into outlines. The last part of the tutorial is just to give you a basic idea of how you can manipulate the letters once you've turned them into shapes.

There are lots of things you can do with letter shapes once you've converted them to graphic shapes. Although we changed the colors of the letters and gave them an outline while they were still in the form of actual text, you can click on each letter shape and change its own individual properties after you've changed them into graphic shapes.

Experiment some with this great feature of the Draw program and I think you'll find there are lots of ways you can incorporate these easy-to-do letter shapes into your computer scrapbooking designs!

Article by David Sutphin
David is an avid computer scrapbooker and the owner of Dream Maker Software, publisher of Cliptures clip art.

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