PI7 Interface

Every week I get at least a few requests for help on making those ubiquitous rounded interfaces. You know the kind, you see them all over the Internet. They live on the left side of the browser and continue across the top.

PI7's Path tools make it easy to create a custom shape for a rounded interface. To begin, start with a new True Color image 500 pixels wide X 400 pixels high. Select the Path Drawing tool. The color doesn't really matter (I'm using Navy), and Mode should be 3D Round. In the Attributes toolbar, click Shape and select the Bezier/Polygon.

select bezier/polygon

We're going to freehand draw an upside-down "L" shape for the interface. Click to start then drag the cursor to make a straight line up the left side of the base image. The nice thing about this tool is that you'll be able to see a "trail" behind your cursor that lets you know if you've got a perfectly straight line, like the one shown below.

keep line behind cursor straight

When you get to the top of the base image, click. Then drag right across the top of base image. Continue to click and drag a shape like this one, then double click to close the path.

interface shape

Let's create the inner rounded corner first. In the Attributes toolbar, click the Editing button. Immediately the object will be replaced by lines with control points.

path with control points in edit mode

In the Attributes toolbar where it says "Edit point," click the plus sign for "Add point."

add point

About 1" below the inner corner point, click on the path to add a control point. About 1" to the right of the corner point, add a control point.

add two control points

In the Attributes toolbar, where it says "Edit point," click the minus sign for "Delete point."

delete point

Click on the inner corner control point to delete it. You'll see a straight line that connects the two recently connected control points.

delete corner point

In the Attributes toolbar, where it says "Edit point," select "Pick point." To turn this straight line into a curved line, click on it and the line will turn red, indicating that it's been selected. In the Attributes toolbar, where it says "Convert line," click on "Convert line segment to curve."

convert line to curve

You'll see that the straight line is curved now.

line is curved now

Let's round out the right side of the interface. Click on the line to select it.

select line

In the Attributes toolbar, where it says "Convert line," click on "Convert line segment to curve." Doing so will round out this line also. Now the whole thing looks like this.

edit path

If you want to round out the bottom of the interface, select the bottom line and convert it to a round line also.

Next, let's round out the top left side of the interface, so that it matched the rounded inner curve at the top. In the Attributes toolbar where it says "Edit point," click the plus sign for "Add point." About 1" below the top left corner point, click on the path to add a control point. About 1" to the right of the top left corner point, add a control point.

add two more control points

In the Attributes toolbar, where it says "Edit point," click the minus sign for "Delete point." Click on the top left corner control point to delete it. You'll see a straight line that connects the two recently connected control points.

delete top left control point

In the Attributes toolbar, where it says "Edit point," select "Pick point." To turn this straight line into a curved line, click on it and the line will turn red. In the Attributes toolbar, where it says "Convert line," click on "Convert line segment to curve." This will round out the line.

line converted to curve

Here's what the interface looks like so far.

interface so far

This interface shape is a little kludgy looking. The left side vertical upright is kind of wide and the ends are a bit too rounded. This where you can edit the shape of the interface to your heart's content by dragging control points, or selecting them and reshaping the curve by dragging on the little auxiliary handles that appear when a control point is selected. I've dragged the control points on the right side of the vertical upright over to the left slightly. Similarly, I selected control points to make the top "arm" not so tall, then reshaped the curves on the ends of the interface. For an excellent tutorial on custom editing path objects, see Pat Hinds' wonderful article in PIXellence.

Continue editing the interface path object until you're happy with its shape. When you're done editing, click the Toggle button in the Attributes toolbar to show the 3D Round object. In the Attributes toolbar, click Editing again to reselect the Path Drawing tool.

3D round object

This is the basic rounded interface shape. If you wish to make "cut outs" for a banner and web buttons, you can select Continue Draw Mode in the Attributes toolbar to make new paths. If you choose to do so, make sure that you click the Options tab in the Path Panel and select "Even-Odd Fill" so that the additional paths will not be filled.  You may need to bring the Border down in the Path Panel too, so that the interface object looks flatter. Fill it with buttons and header text as needed.

finished interface

This tutorial uploaded 5/03/02

Do not duplicate, translate, copy, archive, appropriate or redistribute this document.

 

 

Contact
Back to Homepage