By Steve Bain
This tutorial has been written for CorelDRAW® Graphics Suite X7. While some features might be available in previous releases, the tutorial will be fully applicable to CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7 only.
The shaping commands available in CorelDRAW enable you to apply corner effects to vector paths, eliminating what would otherwise be a time-consuming manual operation. You can instantly apply fillet, scallop, and chamfer shaping commands to create curved, reverse-curved, or beveled effects at specified distances across an entire path or at the node level. These time-saving shortcuts enable you to create a variety of complex effects for object corners, such as the one shown below.
In this optical illusion an intertwining and overlapping path, a series of rectangular shapes were used as the framework for a continuous closed-outline object. The outline was thickened and converted to an object. Then, fillet and scallop commands were applied to specific corners (shown below). The overlapping illusion was created by using carefully placed white rectangles. Let's take a look at a few more practical examples and explore how these different effects can be applied in other common tasks.
Fillet for curved corner effects
The filleted corner effect applies uniform and concentric roundness around a point at a specific radius, enabling you to convert a sharp corner to a rounded corner. The filleted corner is a common design effect.
In the example shown below, an optical illusion is created by rounding one or more corners of a carefully placed series of rectangles. To create the illusion of bent wire or tubing, specific corners were filleted with values either equal to, or half of, the width of the rectangles. A white outline was then applied to visually separate the brown-filled shapes.
In the example shown below, the outline shape of a cactus was created from combined rectangular outlines. The welded rectangles were broken apart at the base and a simple thick outline was applied. The outer corners of the cactus branches were rounded by using the fillet command, which creates the effect much faster and more accurately than simply combining rectangles with rounded corners.
Scallop for reverse rounded corners
The scalloped corner effect instantly applies concentric reverse-rounded corners to objects, producing a seashell-like effect, which is essentially the opposite of the filleted effect. Like the fillet command, the scallop command can be applied at specific radius values. Although not as commonly used as the rounded corners, the scallop effect is equally useful in eliminating the time required to manually create similar effects. In the example shown below, certain objects in this arrangement were given scalloped corner effects along with alternating bitmap fills to create a wood pattern tile.
A closer examination (shown below) shows the shaping effect at the corners of the tile.
In another example of scalloped corners, the matted photo below uses scalloped corner effects to frame a photo subject. To create the cutout shape, the rotated square in the center was combined with a larger rectangle. The drop shadow applied to a duplicate object simulates the depth between the matte and the photo surface, while a copy of the original scalloped corner square was enlarged and outlined to emphasize the cutout shape.
Chamfer for flat corners
The chamfered corner effect applies a simple bevel concentrically around a point at a distance, enabling you to convert a sharp corner to a flattened corner. The chamfered corner is perhaps the most versatile in drawing, enabling you to quickly convert sharp corners to precise and uniformly angled corners with a single click.
In the example shown below, the teeth of a mechanical gear were created from a simple star shape. With the Polygon tool, a 2-inch square, 20-point star outline with a sharpness of 53 was created and converted to curves. A chamfer shaping command set to a distance of 0.2 inches was applied to instantly bevel all corners on the object. By varying the object size, points, sharpness, and chamfer distance, you can use the same technique to quickly create any gear shape.
How corner effects work
As mentioned earlier, fillet, scallop, and chamfer effects enable you to apply rounded, reverse-rounded, or flat effects (respectively) to the angled corners on an open or closed path. You can apply the effects at specific distances (shown below).
The effects are applied using the familiar docker interface (shown below), much like the trim, weld, and intersect shaping commands. To open the docker, choose Window > Dockers > Fillet/Scallop/Chamfer. This simple docker lets you choose the effect style, specify the distance or radius, and apply the effect.
If you're new to applying docker effects, you can get your feet wet with corner effects by following these simple steps:
- Use the Pick tool to select an object. Choose a simple object comprised of straight line segments, such as a rectangle converted to curves or straight line segments comprising an open or closed path created with the Bézier tool.
- Click Window > Dockers > Fillet/Scallop/Chamfer to open the docker, if it isn’t already open.
- Choose a style by enabling one of the radio buttons (in this example, Fillet), type a radius value, and click Apply.
That's it, you're done. Notice that the corner effect you selected is applied to all points where corner nodes join straight lines on your object.
By using the above steps, you can apply the effect across the entire shape. You can, however, apply corner effects selectively to specific points on your shape without affecting all corners at once. Here's how to do it:
- Use the Shape tool to create a simple object comprised of straight line segments fashioned into an open or closed path.
- Click to select one of the path nodes or hold Shift and click to select multiple nodes on the object (shown below).
- In the Fillet/Scallop/Chamfer docker, enable the Scallop radio button, type a radius value, and click Apply.
Notice that this time the effect is applied only to the corner nodes you selected.
There are some considerations to keep in mind as you apply corner effects. These include things such as the object suitability, practical limitations, and alert dialog boxes you may encounter as you become more familiar with the Fillet/Scallop/Chamfer commands. Here are a few guidelines you may wish to follow before applying corner effects:
- Size matters (really) -- If the distance or radius value you're attempting to apply to the object is greater than the object corner can accommodate, the effect will not be applied. Instead, CorelDRAW will display a warning dialog box (shown below) enabling you to proceed with the compatible corner effects only, or decline the command.
- Use only straight segments -- Corner effects can only be applied to corners joined by straight line segments. This means that if you attempt to apply a corner effect to an ellipse-shaped object or a shape involving curved segments, the effect will not be applied to the corners of the curve segments.
- Use curve paths only -- Although the terminology may be confusing for newcomers to vector drawings, a curve is simply a series of nodes joined by line segments that have no dynamic effects applied. Corner effects can only be applied to undistorted open or closed vector curve paths, which means that objects with distortions applied with the Distort or Envelope tool, as well as objects created with the Star, Basic Shapes, Artistic Media, or Text tool must be converted to curves first. If you attempt to apply a corner effect to an object created with one of these tools, CorelDRAW automatically converts the object to curves. Alternatively, you can easily convert any object to curves by right-clicking the object and choosing Convert to Curves from the pop-up menu, or by clicking Object > Convert to Curves (Ctrl + Q).
- Control objects are compatible -- You can apply corner effects to objects acting as control objects for effects applied with the Blend, Contour, Drop Shadow, and Extrude tools, provided that the objects are curve objects.
- Corner effects are not dynamic -- Corner effects applied with the Fillet/Scallop/Chamfer docker are not dynamic, which means that you cannot edit the properties of a corner shape after it has been applied.
- Sticky docker values -- CorelDRAW stores the last-used distance or radius value for each corner effect in the docker as the default. This means that when you switch between corner effect styles, the values may change. It may be worthwhile to check your values before clicking Apply.
Like other invaluable effects in CorelDRAW, the fillet, scallop, and chamfer shaping commands help you solve common drawing challenges without compromising accuracy. Now that you've explored the possibilities, I'm sure you'll agree that working yourself into a corner doesn't get much better than this.
Steve Bain is an award-winning illustrator and designer, and an author of nearly a dozen books, including CorelDRAW: The Official Guide.