Rounded Corners

I often use boxes to put information like a map key or the map title in as I like to separate these things from the map itself. Creating such a box is easy enough, I usually just use the Box command to draw an appropriate box with a nice fill on a dedicated sheet, slap a quick effect on it like edge fade and/or transparency and I am done. If you did the first map tutorial in the CC3+ user manual, this was one of the final steps when we completed the map in the text chapter.

But, what if I want to make it a little neater, like for example adding rounded corners to it? CC3+ doesn’t have a ready to go rounded corner tool out of the box, but we can easily assemble one ourselves with a few simple steps. And of course, once you have made the shape, you can throw whatever fills and effects on it that you want.

Basically, we are just going to draw a circle and rip it apart. There’s several ways of doing this, but to avoid too much confusion and unnecessary explanation, I’ll only go through one way of doing this, but if you have used CC3+ for a while, you may know several ways to replace some of my steps here.

Start by setting the current properties to color Black, line width zero, and fill Solid. While not technically necessary, I find it easiest to work with the shape like this, and apply appropriate fills to it after we’ve assembled the shape.

Then use the Line tool to draw two lines crossing each other, like a plus-sign. Note that these two lines should be perfectly vertical and horizontal respectively, so use Snap or Ortho to ensure this. The length of the lines doesn’t need to be equal, the only requirement is that the distance from the crossing point to the end of each line is larger than your desired radius of the rounded corners. Note that if you find the thin lines difficult to see in my screenshots, you can click on the images to view a larger version.



Next, use the Circle tool to draw a circle with the center exactly where the lines cross. The easiest way to do this is to use the intersection modifier when the command line asks for the circle center, as this allows you to place the point exactly where the lines intersect. Note that when using the Intersection modifier, if you get the actual intersection inside your pick cursor aperture, it should just use it, otherwise you need to pick the lines individually, and CC3+ will calculate where they cross. Just keep a good eye one the command line and see what it ask from you. The size of the circle should reflect the corner radius of the rounded corners. We’re going to chop the circle into four pieces, each piece becoming a corner. Thus, the larger the circle, the larger your corners will be. Keep this in mind, don’t make the circle as large as you want the final box to be, remember, it is only the corners. Also, keep in mind you can easily scale the shape after you’re done, don’t be to concerned if it is a bit too large or too small at this point. Please do make sure that the four ends of our cross extends out beyond the edge of the circle, we are going to need them.

Next, we need to split the circle into four quadrants. We do this using the split command to split the circle where it meet the lines of our cross. The easiest way to do this is to start the Split command, then click on the edge of the circle near the guide line (but not on it) to tell CC3+ this is what we want to split , and then finally activating the Endpoint modifier, and click on the line near it’s end. The first time you do this, the circle will become hollow. This is because the circle is no longer a closed shape, just a circular line with an invisible break. You’ll need to repeat the procedure three more time, one for each of the remaining lines, but you won’t actually be able to observe a change when doing this, so just make sure to do each one.

To check that you did break everything correctly, you can use the List command (from the info menu) on the circle and lines. Make sure to select everything, as the circle is now in four parts, and if done correctly, the list output should show you that you have two 2D Lines, and four 2D Arcs. Assuming this is the case, you can delete the crossed lines now, we only need the circle. In the image above I’ve deliberately colored the segments just so you can see how they are split, but unless you do this yourself, it will look like a continuous black circle.

Now, it is time to move the corners apart to create our box. However, if we are not careful, it is easy to get into trouble getting them to line up. My favorite way of doing this step is to always move the segments two and two. First, enable Ortho so we only get straight moves. Then use the Move,Scale,Rotate command, select the rightmost two segments, and move them a bit to the right. Then, use the move command again, but this time on the bottom two segments, and move them down. As you can see, as long as we move them in pairs like this with ortho enabled, they will always form four corners that line up perfectly. You can continue to move them back and forth to find the perfect size for your box (we can still scale it later though), just remember to keep ortho on and move them in pairs of two.

Now, let’s assemble this into a box. For this we’ll use three commands all of which appears in the pop-up menu you get from right clicking the Explode button.

First, use the Line to Path command on the four corners. This changes them from unmanageable arcs into paths we can work with. Then, use the Combine Paths command. Start by clicking on one of the corners, then click on the next corner counterclockwise from the first one. This will connect them with a line, and you can just continue on by clicking the third corner (again counterclockwise from the previous) and finally the fourth one. This will connect up all the four corners, but there will still be a line missing from the fourth back to the first, but we can’t add it with this command, so right click to end the command. (At this point you may ask why counterclockwise was so important? The reason for this is that paths have a direction, and the combine paths connects the end of the first path to the start of the next. Fortunately, all circle arcs have the same direction, which is why I know counterclockwise will work in this case. I recommend you try out clockwise as well just to experience the difference.)

To get that last line in there, we need to close the polygon. This is done by using the Path to Poly command on out entity. At this point, the corners and lines between them should already be joined into a single entity, so there is just one entity to select for this command. Once you complete the command, the shape should close, and you’ll find that it appears filled, like the original circle.

And, that’s all there is to it. As usual, it takes longer to explain these things than just do it. If you haven’t followed along, I recommend you just go try it it.

Now that you have the shape, you can do whatever you want with it. In my example image below, I’ve used two copies of my shape on two different sheets (Remember you can copy the shape with Copy , you don’t need to manually assemble two). I used Change Properties to change the fills of my two copies, and I changed the line width of one of them so that it became a hollow shape to act as a frame. I then put them on two different sheets so I could apply different sheet effects to them.

Also, while I started out describing this as an “in-map box with rounded corners”, you could also use the same technique to get rounded corners on your main map border.


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One Response to “Rounded Corners”

  1. Great stuff, Remy. Thank you very much! 😀