Align & Distribute: Corel Photo-Paint’s Powerful Layout Tool
PART 1: Introduction
Sometimes overlooked, Corel Photo-Paint’s Align and Distribute tools allow you to align both Objects and Masks, and to distribute and arrange objects. Objects and masks can be aligned to each other or to the document, and both can be aligned to a grid. The Distribute tools allow you to space and arrange your objects in many different ways and can even create straight and even diagonal lines all by themselves without recourse to alignment functions.
A little knowledge about these tools will help you layout and compose your images quickly and easily, increasing your productivity and save you time and money.
Adobe Photo Shop, the so-called Industry Standard, as well as Macromedia Fireworks, which tends to copy Photo Shop, and some other image editors only allow the user only 12 different ways to align and distribute objects. Corel Photo-Paint, using the same system as Corel Draw, gives designers well over a hundred different ways to align and distribute objects, plus the ability to specify precise, user-defined spacing sizes between any side or the center of objects or the document. You don’t need to ‘link’ objects as you do in Photo Shop and you can easily change the Active object within a series even after the series has been selected. Photo-Paint’s Align and Distribute tools simply run rings around the opposition.
If you are an experienced user you may wish to go straight to my Align & Distribute Tips and Tricks section at the end of this tutorial.
If you would like to follow along with the align & distribute variations described here you can download the base file I used here (Align-base.cpt)
For Objects: The Align & Distribute command, icon and dialogue box.
To use Align & Distribute, at least one object must be selected. You can select a single object using either the Object Pick Tooling (shortcut key = “O”) or by selecting it in the Objects Docker. Multiple objects can be selected in the workspace using the Object Pick tool either by dragging a marquee completely around all the objects you wish to select or by SHIFT+clicking multiple objects. If you are using the Object Docker you can select multiple objects there by CTRL+clicking separate objects or by SHIFT+clicking a range of objects.
Unlike Adobe Photo Shop, objects do not have to be linked prior to alignment, they simply need to be selected. Also, because the Photo-Paint Align & Distribute commands are dialogue box driven, with both object- and document-centric choices, there is a far wider range of settings available than in either Photo Shop or other image editors. Photo-Paint’s Align & Distribute dialogue box also enables a live preview which you can use to test settings before committing to them, thus avoiding multiple retries and subsequent Undo steps.
The way you select objects does have a bearing on the result in some cases however. See Part 4: Aligning Multiple Objects 2 for more details.
The Align & Distribute command, icon and shortcut.
If only the background object is selected, the Align & Distribute command is unavailable (grayed out).
When at least one object is selected you can display the Align & Distribute control dialogue box either by:
• the menu command: Objects > Arrange > Align and Distribute
• the keyboard shortcut CTRL+A in Photo-Paint versions 8, 9 and 10, or CTRL+SHIFT+A in version 11
• the Align and Distribute icon which appears on the Property bar for the Object Picker Tool in Photo-Paint versions 8, 9 and 10, and which you can easily place on any property bar in version 11.
|Fig 1: icon for versions 8-10 and for version 11+|
*TIP You do not need to be using the Object Picker tool in order to use Align & Distribute.
The Align & Distribute dialogue box.
This feature of Corel Photo-Paint is unchanged from even before version 8. The dialogue box has two tabs - the Align tab and the Distribute tab.
Fig 2: The Align & Distribute dialogue box
The following Align & Distribute examples use 5 coloured balls.
(You can download this version 8+ compatible cpt file: CLICK HERE)
3: The basic setup used in the align and distribute examples in this tutorial.
(click the figure or the link above to download this file in Photo-Paint vers 8+ format)
The Align Tab.
The align tab contains 6 main control areas:
1. Vertical alignment checkboxes
2. Horizontal alignment checkboxes
3. Align To Object/Page options
4. Align to grid checkbox
5. Live Preview button
6. Control buttons: OK, Cancel and Reset
|Fig 4: The Align Tab showing the six main control areas.|
Only one checkbox or radio button can be selected in each of the vertical, horizontal and Align To options sections (1, 2 or 3) at any one time. Checking an option switches it from any previous choice.
The Live preview button (5) allows you to see the result of any alignment (or distribution) setting you make before you commit (by pressing the OK button), allowing you to test out different arrangements without needing to undo a previous one.
The Align to Grid option (4) forces the objects to be aligned to a grid rather than either to each other or to the image document boundaries. When this box is checked, all of the choices in the Align To options section become greyed out and unavailable. Align to grid works regardless of whether the grid is visible or not, and regardless of whether the Snap to Grid option (View menu) is switched on or not.
Fig 5: When Align To Grid is checked,
the other modes become inaccessable.
Let’s look more closely at the vertical, horizontal and options choices.
If you want to follow along, create 4 or 5 separate objects (each on their own ‘layer’), or download and use the sample file, select one or more objects (see more on the importance on selecting objects in parts 3, 4 &5), display the Align & Distribute dialogue box and turn the Live Preview button ON.
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