Rapid Fire #11: Dot Matrix Effect

Sixthings dot matrix effect - final output

In this resurrection post for the Rapid Fire tutorial series, we make use of Adobe® Fireworks®‘s Grid Fill Texture to apply a dot matrix effect to any vector element.

Begin with a vector or text element of your choice. For this tutorial, let’s download a world map vector EPS by Studio 7 Designs on Vecteezy and import it onto the canvas (Ctrl+R).

Be sure to uncheck the options under the Render as images section in the Vector File Options dialog (see Figure 1a), to make sure that the EPS is imported as a vector element, and not a bitmap.

Vector File Options
Figure 1a. EPS import options.

The map vector we’re using is already filled black, but if your own vector element isn’t yet, set its fill color to a solid #000000.

(If you’re working with a text element, you can skip this step.) Ungroup the imported map vector (Ctrl+Shift+G) and join the paths together (Ctrl+Shift+J) to create one compound path of the whole map (see Figure 1b).

Map vector
Figure 1b. Map vector on canvas.

With the map vector still selected, change the Fill Edge setting to Hard in the Properties Panel (see Figure 2).

Hard fill edge
Figure 2. Map vector with hard fill edge.

Change the Fill Texture to Grid 4: 100%, also in the Properties Panel (see Figure 3). Leave the Transparent option unchecked.

Grid fill texture
Figure 3. Map vector with grid fill texture.

We want the dots to be black, and the rest of the fill to be white (you’ll see why in the step after this), so we apply an Invert Live Filter to the map (see Figure 4).

Inverted texture color
Figure 4. Map vector with inverted texture color.

Next, apply a Convert to Alpha Live Filter to the map (see Figure 5). This will keep the now-black dots opaque, while making the white part transparent. From this point on, you can apply more elements and filters to customize your map vector. The next few steps provide some examples of what you can do.

Alpha live filter
Figure 5. Basic dot matrix effect.

Use the Rectangle Tool (Icon) to create a background for our map. Send the rectangle to the back (Ctrl+Shift+↓) and give it an aqua-like gradient (see Figure 6).

Aqua background
Figure 6. Aqua background.

Select the map and set its Layer Blend Mode to Luminosity. Apply a Color Fill Live Filter (Blend mode: Normal; Color: #FFFFFF; Opacity: 100%) and a Drop Shadow Live Filter (Distance: 2; Color: #000000; Opacity: 100%; Softness: 0; Angle: 315) (see Figure 7).

Recolored and shadowed
Figure 7. Map vector recolored and shadowed.

And there you have it: a map vector with a dot matrix effect! If you want a bit of variation, go back to your map vector and try out a couple of other fill textures: Line-Horiz 4 (see Figure 8) and Line-Vert 2 (see Figure 9).

Horizontal line fill texture
Figure 8. Map vector with horizontal line fill texture.

Vertical line fill texture
Figure 8. Map vector with vertical line fill texture.

Need a quick sample to study? Download the source PNG (tutorial11.zip, 414KB, Adobe® Fireworks® CS3) for this tutorial.

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