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The new Freehand Drawing Tool makes it very easy to draw smooth vector artwork directly on the screen in lines and Bezier curves. This vector artwork can then be populated in PowerFlow as open loops AND easily scaled using the Graphical Scaling capability.
Here are some ideas for how you can use the Freehand Drawing Tool:
Draw a path in an empty layout
This is the simplest way to try this tool and see what it does. Select the tool and click and drag the mouse to draw the path. Be careful not to move the mouse too fast. Normally the tool will draw Bezier curves, but if you hold the CTRL key, you can draw straight lines. If you make a mistake, just use Undo to go back.
After you are finished drawing, you can click on the Layout Tool to select the new drawing and move it or use the control points to Scale.
Draw a path as part of another vector object
If you select an existing vector object and then launch the Freehand Draw Tool, the new path that you draw will be part of the original vector object.
You may consider this option if your vector artwork is very poor, and would take a long time to clean up. Maybe there are too many open loops or the vectors are very jagged, leading to a poor guidepath in PowerFlow. If you draw the path for the modules, then when you go into Powerflow, it will populate to the open path.
Draw a path on top of a bitmap
One of the most useful applications of this tool is drawing a vector path over a bitmap, when you don't want to go through the process of Vectorizing and when the On_Screen Digitizing Tool is too limiting. After you have drawn a vector path, you can then edit it with the Vector Edit Tool if necessary. If you enter PowerFlow with the open path selected, you will be able to populate to that path.
This means that you no longer need a closed loop vector object to populate a design with LEDs. You can import a bitmap and create a layout using the Freehand Draw Tool. Just make sure that the bitmap is scaled to the correct size. You can also adjust the Transparency of the bitmap as a way to better see the path and the modules as you populate and edit.
The property bar contains one option, Tolerance. This controls how smooth the path is when you draw with the mouse. The range is 1-10 and the default value is 5. A lower value of 1-3 will track the path more closely, resulting in more vectors, and a higher value of 7-10 will result in a path that has larger curves, but doesn't track your drag path as closely.
If the paths created using the Freehand Draw Tool are not smooth, considering drawing more slowly and/or using a higher Tolerance value. It may also help to Zoom in so that you can draw more carefully.
Here are a series of images showing the progression of freehand drawing a path and populating it.
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