How to create chisel effects in CorelDRAW
In this visit to the CorelDRAW 11 toolbox, you'll discover a technique to creating perfectly
chiseled shapes. Chiseled shapes enable you to create the 3D illusion of shapes which appear
either recessed into or raised above a flat surface (as shown next) from simple
twodimensional shapes. Success will depend on your object's shape, skill with node editing
and path commands, and an effect or two.
Before you begin, do a little setting up
Before you begin the exercises to follow, it'll help immensely for you to ensure a few
invaluable snap settings are selected in CorelDRAW 11. You'll need to check that certain Snap
options are active using the Options dialog. To get set up, follow these steps:
1. Choose Tools, Options to open the Options dialog.
2. Under the Workspace heading, click Snap to Objects. Ensure the Snap to Objects is selected
active and click both the Snap to Nodes and Snap to Object Center Points options are selected
3. Click OK to close the dialog and accept your changes and you're ready to start.
Creating the chisel shape path
The key to the riddle of a successful chisel shape lies in creating a new path to represent the
center between two existing paths. You could manually draw the shape with mastery of the
Freehand or Bezier tools, but that could take considerable time and effort, and the result may
not be entirely accurate. This is where the Blend Tool can help. By creating a single blend step
between two existing paths, you'll be able to quickly create a new path automatically. In most
cases, you'll be able to use the resulting shape with very little node editing. But as you'll
discover, the process isn't without its little tricks.
To familiarize yourself with the process, try these steps:
1. Choose the Ellipse Tool and create an ellipse of any size or shape. Make it a circular ellipse
by holding Ctrl as you create it.
2. Create a copy of your new circle centered within the original by holding Shift as you drag
one of the corner handles toward the inside of the original, then clicking the right mouse
button to create the copy (as shown next).
3. Choose the Pick Tool (press Spacebar), select the two circles, and convert them both to
4. Choose the Interactive Blend Tool and click-drag from the edge of one circle to the other to
create a default blend effect. Using Property Bar options, set the Number of Steps option to 1.
This will create the chisel path (shown next).
5. Using the Pick Tool, right-click the blend object and choose Break Blend Group Apart to
break the link between the original circles and the blend.
6. Select only the blend object and press the "+" key on your numeric keyboard to create a
copy superimposed over the original. With the copy still selected, hold Shift, click the outer
circle and combine the two paths to make a compound path (Ctrl+L). Send the new object to
the back (Shift+PageDown).
7. Click to select the original blend object and hold Shift while clicking the innermost circle to
select both objects. Combine them into a single compound object (Ctrl+L).
You now have two separate compound paths.
8. Select both objects and fill them with any color (Red for example), and choose the
Interactive Fill Tool (G). Using Property Bar options, choose Radial from the Type menu to fill
both with a default red-to-white radial fill.
9. Offset the centers of each radial fill. Drag the white marker on the outer object to the
upper-left and the white marker of the inner object to the lower-right. This will enable you to
simulate basic shading (as shown next). Remove any outline properties from the objects and
In the circle example, you were able to create the chisel effect using a series of unbroken
circular paths. But, if the shape you're attempting to apply this effect to feature corners, the
process becomes slightly more involved and requires the blend step process as well as node
editing. This is where the effect really takes off though. Let's take a simple square as an
1. 1. Using the Rectangle Tool, create a square shape (hold Ctrl to constrain). As you did with
the circle, create a smaller copy inside the original by dragging a corner handle inward while
holding the Shift key and clicking the right mouse button to make the copy (as shown next).
Select both objects and convert them to curves (Ctrl+L).
2. Using the Blend Tool, create a single blend object by dragging from one shape to the
other (shown next). Then, using the Pick Tool, right-click the blend object and choose
Break Blend Group Apart from the popup menu. This will represent the chisel path.
3. Select only the blend shape and press numeric "+" to make a copy. Hold Shift and click to
select the outer square and Combine the two shapes (Ctrl+L).
4. With your shape still selected, choose the Shape Tool (F10) and click any node on the
shape. Then, using Property Bar options, click the Select All Nodes and the Break Curve
buttons (shown next), to select and unjoin all the nodes at once. Then separate all the lines in
the shape using the Break Apart command (Ctrl+K). This process essentially reduces the
shapes to lines.
5. Next, we'll join each pair of lines representing the sides of the shape. Using the Pick Tool
and while holding the Shift key click to select the first pair of lines and Combine them (Ctrl+L).
Then, choose the Shape Tool and choose the node pair at one end and click the Extend Curve
to Close button in the Property Bar (shown next). This will add a straight line between the two
nodes. Repeat this operation for the node pairs at the opposite end. Once you are complete,
the shape will be a closed curve.
6. Repeat the above step for each pair of lines, first combining them and then joining the node
pairs. In the example shown next, all sides of the outer shape have been combined into closed
7. You'll also need to repeat this process for the inner shapes. Click to select the original blend
path object and combine it with the innermost square. Then select and break apart all curve
nodes and break apart the entire arrangement. Choose each line pair and combine them, and
close each end using the Extend Curve to Close button. The result will be eight closed shapes.
Although we haven't yet explored the shading aspects of the chisel effect (which we'll do in
part 2 of this article), the example shown next demonstrates the final result with various
colors and shades applied to each side.
You may not always need to create a negative and a positive shape for the chisel effect. In
some instances, you might simply need to create the effect of a complete shape carved onto
(or into) a surface. In this exercise, there is no need for the blend step, but there is certainly
more emphasis on node editing and drawing. Let's take a simple polygon as the example and
create a chiseled star shape:
1. To begin, choose the Polygon Tool (Y) and create a default symmetrical polygon shape by
holding Ctrl to constrain the shape as you drag. Using Property Bar options set the Number of
Points option to 5. If needed, increase the depth of the star spikes by holding Ctrl and
dragging any of the shape nodes toward or away from the center of the shape (as shown
2. You'll also need to create an object to use as a snapping guide. For this, choose the Ellipse
Tool (F7) and create a circular ellipse (hold Ctrl) slightly smaller than the inner area of the
star. Select both shapes and press E and then C to center the two objects vertically and
horizontally with each other (as shown next).
3. Using the Pick Tool, select the star and convert it to curves (Ctrl+Q). Then choose the
Shape Tool and hold Ctrl+Shift while clicking any node to quickly select all nodes composing
the shape. Using Property Bar options click the Break Curve button and then press Ctrl+K to
break apart the lines in the shape.
4. In this next step your node-snapping settings will be really pay off. Click to select one of
the original star lines to select it and choose the Bezier Tool. Notice the nodes at either end
are visible. Click any node and then click the dead center of the circle to add a straight line.
Then, click the remaining node on the opposite end of the original line to close the shape (as
shown next). This will create a single chisel side.
5. Repeat this process for each of the 9 remaining lines which composed the original star. To
do this quickly, press the Spacebar to toggle your tool state between the Bezier and Pick tools
using the Pick Tool for selecting and the Bezier Tool for drawing.
Once all 10 lines have been completed, the effect needs only to be colored or shaded (as
shown next). Once you are finished, be sure to select and delete the circle shape and remove
any outline properties from the star chisel shapes.
So far, we've only explored creating and chiseling basic shapes, but there's much more to
perfecting this effect. In part 2, we'll look at techniques for applying color and shading to the
shapes and see how the chisel effect can be applied to other more complex shapes such as
text, lines, and other useful shapes.
CorelDRAW 11 using the most basic of shapes. Next, we'll explore how to deal with more
complex shapes and apply realistic color schemes to simulate lighting. If you haven't yet
absorbed part one, now may be a good time since the settings you'll need to have selected
and the techniques covered in those step sequences lay the groundwork for the tutorials which
Tackling different object types
It goes without saying that the shapes you'll want to apply the chisel effect to won't always be
simple circles, squares or polygons. In fact, you can apply this effect to almost any object
type you can create in CorelDRAW 11. But, how you approach each challenge will depend on
the object type. Let's take a close look at three uniquely different examples and explore how
chiseled sides can be created.
First, we'll see how our chisel effect can be applied to a simple open curved path. The basic
thrust of this technique involves drawing an open path, applying a heavy line weight,
converting the outline to an object, and applying the chisel to the resulting shape.
1. If you don't already have a line ready to apply the effect to, use the Bezier Tool to create an
open path. Be sure the path doesn't cross itself, and try to ensure it is composed of mostly
urves with a minimum of nodes. Copy your selected path to the clipboard (Ctrl+C) for a later
2. With the path selected, choose the Pick Tool and use Property Bar options to increase its
thickness value (in this case 16 points). Then, choose Arrange, Convert Outline to Object
(Ctrl+Shift+Q) to convert the state of your line into a closed path complete with corner nodes
(as shown next).
3. Choose the Shape Tool (F10) and select each pair of nodes at either end of the object and
use the Break Curve button in the Property Bar separate the nodes. Then, choose Arrange,
Break Curve Apart (Ctrl+K) to separate each of the lines in the object. Select each of the lines
representing the ends and use your Nudge keys to offset their position (as shown next).
4. Paste (Ctrl+V) a copy of the original path from your clipboard onto your page. By default,
the copy is pasted exactly in its original position, but you'll need to perform a little node
editing. Using the Shape Tool, double click to add a new point beside each end point, and
double-click the existing end points to delete them. Choose the Pick Tool and press your
numeric keypad "+" key to duplicate the path.
5. Select the copy together with one of the paths representing the outline of your shape and
Combine them (Ctrl+L). Using the Shape Tool, select each pair of end nodes and click the
Extend Curve to Close button in the Property Bar to close each end of the object (shown next).
Now select the path you duplicated together with the second outline and repeat this. You now
have two sides of your chisel effect and only the ends remain unfinished.
6. Using the Pick Tool, select one of the end lines you moved earlier and use your Nudge keys
to move it back into position. Now, choose the Bezier Tool, click one of the end points, and
click the point where the two chisel paths meet. Then, click the last node on the line to close
the path. Perform this same operation on the line at the opposite end of your chiseled line.
7. Since the two shapes in your chisel are curved, let's apply a radial fountain fill applied to
each to create the shading effect. Using the Interactive Fill Tool, select the upper chiseled side
of the shape and choose Radial as the Fill Type from the Property Bar to apply the fill at
defaults. Drag the white center marker to the upper-left area of the shape and drag any dark
color from your onscreen color palette to the other secondary fill marker. Then, select the
lower chisel side and do the same, but this time drag the white center marker to the lower-
right area. To finish the shading, set the end shapes with the same uniform color used for your
secondary color and your effect is complete (as shown next).
Chiseling simple text shapes
Creating chiseled text effects is of the more practical applications. Simple text characters are
relatively easy to work with, but you'll need to analyze each character shape before you begin.
In the case of characters, the one-step Blend usually serves as the best technique to use. Let's
examine how to apply this effect to a simple sans-serif character shape.
1. Using the Text Tool (F8), create an Artistic Text character (single click, then type the
character), and apply your size, font, and weight attributes using Property Bar options. The
example is an uppercase C set to Franklin Gothic Heavy Italic. Choose the Pick Tool and
convert your character to curves (Ctrl+Q).
2. Using the Shape Tool (F10), select the nodes joining the curves with the straight lines and
click the Break Curves button in the Property Bar to unjoin the nodes. Then, use the Break
Apart command to separate the curved lines from the straight lines (as shown next).
3. Choose the Interactive Blend Tool and click-drag between the two curve paths to create a
default blend effect. Use Property Bar options to set the number of blend steps to 1. You'll
notice the blend effect doesn't even come close to matching the shape of either curve. This is
because the nodes have not yet been mapped.
4. Click the Miscellaneous Blend Options button in the Property Bar and choose Map Nodes.
Use the targeting cursor to click on each of the adjacent end nodes on the two curves to map
them to each other (as shown next). Using the Pick Tool, right -click the blend object and
choose Break Blend Group Apart from the popup menu to separate the effect. Even after the
node mapping is complete, you may notice the blend object is still slightly inaccurate (as
highlighted in yellow). You can often correct these irregularities using the Shape Tool by
double-clicking to delete the node(s) where the anomaly occurs.
5. With your chisel path selected, use the Shape Tool to add nodes as shown next, and delete
the existing endpoints to shorten the curve shape. Select the curve using the Pick Tool and
press "+" on your numeric keypad to create a copy. Combine (Ctrl+L) the copy with the outer
curve, use the Shape Tool to select two adjacent endpoints, and click the Extend to Close
Curve button in the Property Bar. Repeat this to join the two nodes at the opposite end and
close the path.
6. Choose the Bezier Tool next and click one of the short, straight lines remaining. Click an
existing node and click the point where the two chisel corners meet and then click the opposite
end of the line to close the path. Repeat this operation on the other straight end line.
7. To apply quick shading to the curved shapes of the arrangement, use the Interactive Fill
Tool to apply radial fills using white as the center color and any dark color as the ending color.
Position the white center at the upper-left on the inner curve and at the lower-right for the
inner curve (shown next). Apply Uniform fills to the triangular chisel shapes at either end and
Complex characters require a little more ingenuity as you'll discover next. The approach is
similar, but more steps are involved. Let's see how it's done.
1. Begin with an Artistic Text character again, this time an uppercase H. Apply a sans serif
font style, such as the Franklin Gothic Heavy Italic used in the example.
2. Using the Shape Tool, hold Ctrl+Shift while clicking any node to select all nodes. Click the
Break Curve button to break the nodes apart and separate all the lines using the Break Apart
command (Ctrl+K). Apply an outline color to the lines by right –clicking 4 any color in your
onscreen color palette.
3. Create a one-step blend between the vertical parallel lines in the original character shape
using the Interactive Blend Tool (as shown next), right click each blend object and choose
Break Blend Group Apart to separate the effect.
4. Apply a one-step blend between the two horizontal lines and notice the blend path is not
the shape you need. Using Property Bar options, click the Miscellaneous Blend Options button
and choose Map Nodes. Use the targeting cursor to map the adjacent end pairs to each other.
Right -click the blend object and choose Break Blend Group Apart.
5. The blend paths will serve as the chisel paths, but they'll need to be edited. Using the
Shape Tool, increase the length of each line as shown next. Select the three chisel paths and
create copies (with the + key). Add nodes on the vertical lines where they meet the horizontal
chisel lines and click the Break Curve button. Separate these using the Break Apart command.
Each side will now have a corresponding chisel path.
6. Assemble the sides using the Combine (Ctrl+L) command and connect the pairs of end
nodes for each side using the Shape Tool and the Extend to Close Curve button to close the
shapes (as shown next). Then, use the Bezier Tool to finished chiseling the remaining ends.
Once the shapes are closed, you're ready to apply the final color and shading and remove the
Shading your chisel effect
Although nearly every example we've looked at shows a finished a color version, we still need
to explore some basic techniques for applying color and shading. After your shapes have been
created, this effect would be nothing without it. Before you begin applying color though, you'll
need to determine a few key characteristics. For example, is your chiseling recessed or on a
raised surface. From which direction will it be lit? How bright is the light source? What is will
the color scheme be? Your answers will help you determine which colors 5 to use and where to
When it comes to applying uniform fills, the color of chisel sides facing the light will appear
brighter while the others are darker. One quick technique to lighten selected object colors
applied to the sides facing the light is using the Hue/Saturation/Lightness filter (Ctrl+Shift+U)
by moving the Lightness slider (shown next) to the right while clicking the Preview button to
view the results.
An efficient way to darken selected object colors is by adding black in incremental percentages
using the CMYK model. Select the sides you wish to darken and open the Uniform Fill dialog
shown next (Shift+F11), click the Models tab and choose CMYK from the Mode menu. Increase
Black in percentages of 20 percent until the shade appears suitable.
The two examples shown next illustrate a how shading schemes can be applied using the
Lightness and techniques discussed next. In this case a base color of Red (100 magenta + 100
yellow) was applied to the shapes. Sides facing the light were lightened using only the Red
channel by the values indicated using the Hue/Saturation/Lightness filter. Sides facing away
from the light were darkened by adding percentages of black. By varying the settings, you
may control lighting contrast illustrated by the bright light source on the left and the dim one
on the right. This particular chisel requires only 4 variations on the original color to simulate
Color Styles offer another quick way to formulate colors. Open the Color Styles docker shown
next (Window, Dockers, Color Styles), create a new color, and then create child colors of the
color. This will enable you to create a variety of lighter or darker colors (or both) based on
whichever color you choose. Use options in the Create a New Child Color dialog to add as
many colors as you need.
Raised chisel effects like the ones shown in the examples can quickly be converted to recessed
chisel shapes simply by rotating the objects 180 degrees. The example shown next
demonstrates how simple rotation creates this illusion. This works perfectly if the objects
you're working with are symmetrical. For non-symmetrical objects you may still use the
rotated object shades as reference for other objects.