How to insert and customize shapes in Captivate
Posted by Greten on 03 May 2019 under Tools
Shapes are one of the simplest, and also one of the most useful features you can find in Captivate. You can insert different shapes on your elearning slide in a manner not unlike in word processors and slide presentation applications.
Shapes are useful in creating diagrams, concepts maps, flow charts, and maybe some other presentation elements that you can think and limited only by your creativity. Unlike documents and like slide presentations, you can animate these shapes. Unlike slide presentations, you can turn them into interactive elements.
The basis for how these functions work, and the source of the screen captures used in this entry is the Adobe Captivate 2019 or Captivate 11. However, the way these functions work is very similar to that of Captivate 2017 (also called Captivate 10).
To insert a shape:
- Click the Shapes button near the top of Captivate window.
- A submenu where you can select from several shapes will open. Select the shape that you want.
- The mouse pointer will turn into a cross. Click on the slide and drag the mouse.
- You will see the shape you selected forming. Let go of the mouse pointer after the shape reaches the size you want.
The Polygon shape (line with a small cross at the end) operates differently. After step 3 above, you do not hold the mouse button. Instead, you click on several points on the slide that will form the corners of your polygon. Then, to complete the polygon, you either double-click or click on your starting point.
The Line is also among the selection of Shapes, but it is not a real shape; it has no fill, and it has only two handles—one on each end—that you can use to resize it and change its orientation.
Resizing, repositioning, rotating, and flipping shapes
You can resize, reposition, rotate, and flip shapes like any other slide object: that is by dragging, using handles, or using the Options tab under the PROPERTIES interface.
There are some limitations when it comes to line and polygons:
- You cannot flip a polygon. The Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical buttons do not appear when the active object is a polygon. If you try using the side resize handles, the polygon will still not flip.
- You cannot flip or rotate a line. The buttons for flipping discussed in the previous bullet and the Angle field is not available. You can, however, drag one of its two white handles to orient and resize the line to the angle and length that you want.
By default, the PROPERTIES interface is not visible. If you cannot see it, click the Properties burger menu near the upper-right corner.
If you cannot see the burger menu, it means that the custom workspace is enabled. You can open the PROPERTIES tab by checking Windows » Properties or by pressing Shift, Control, and D together (Ctrl+Shift+D). To make the PROPERTIES interface visible permanently, save a new workspace in Windows » Workspace » New Workspace.
After selecting your shape and putting it on the slide, you might want to modify it so that it can suit your learning design. Most of the customization options are available under the Style tab.
Customization options under Style
The Style provides the options that govern the appearance of the shape. This interface is under the PROPERTIES interface; if you cannot see the PROPERTIES interface, click the Properties burger menu near the upper-right corner.
If the Properties burger menu is not visible, it means your Captivate has custom workspace enabled. Alternative ways of opening the PROPERTIES interface are:
- Check Windows » Properties
- Press Shift, Control, and D together (Ctrl+Shift+D).
You may make the PROPERTIES interface permanently visible by saving a new workspace in Windows » Workspace » New Workspace.
The following customization options are available for shapes under the Style tab:
- Basic: open this drop-down menu to change the shape after you already put it on the slide. The shape retains its size and position as defined by the bounding box (dashed rectangle enclosing it). This menu is not available to lines and polygons.
- Fill: the area inside a shape. You can configure it in three ways.
- Solid, Gradient, and Image: select any of these options to determine the kind of fill inside the shape. Solid means a single color. Gradient means there is a transition from one color to another in different parts of the area; you need to select at least two colors for this to work and you can have three or more colors. Image allows you to select an image file to fill the shape.
- Fill: open this option to configure the Solid, Gradient, or Image. If Solid, you can select the color. If Gradient, you can select the two colors, or add more colors, and whether the gradient is linear or radial. If Image, then it allows you to select the image file and whether the image will stretch with the shape or form a repeating pattern.
- Opacity: select the percentage by which the interior of the shape becomes transparent. If 0%, the interior of the shape becomes invisible. If 100%, then the shape is opaque. Any of the values in between will still allow you to see what's behind the shape.
- Stroke: these options govern the appearance of a line and the border enclosing the shape.
- Style: the options are solid line, dashed line, dotted line, or alternating dashed and dots.
- Stroke: open this option to select the color of the line.
- Width: enter a number or select from the drop-down to set the thickness of the line in pixels.
For the Stroke and Solid Fill colors, the colors can be entered by selecting it from a palette, encoding the RGB values or hex code, or using the droplet tool to select a color anywhere on your screen.
The same ways of color selection are used in the Gradient Fill, but you need to select first the gradient slider, which determines the color of a region inside the shape. A Gradient Fill has at least two gradient sliders for which you can select the color, while Captivate automatically fills the transition between them.
There are also Shadow and Reflection options under the Style interface, but I will cover this in another post because they also apply to several other visual elements, not just the shapes.
Modify shapes using yellow handles
In some shapes, yellow handles are available, which allows you to change the shape in some ways. A shape can have one, two, or three yellow handles. Some of them are as follows:
- The rounded rectangle has one yellow handle that allows you to control the roundness of the corner relative to the size of the rectangle. Drag it to the middle and the rounded rectangle will turn into a circle or oblong. Drag it to the corner, and it will become a regular pointy rectangle.
- The wave banner has two yellow handles, one to adjust how wavy it is, and the other to adjust the tilt of the ends of the banner.
- The quadrilateral arrow callout, a rectangle with four arrows emerging from it, has three yellow handles: one to resize the rectangle at the center, one to adjust the width of the arrow's stem, and one to resize the base of the arrow's pointers.
Add text to shapes
You can use shapes as container of text. To add text you can either:
- Double-click on a shape
- Select a shape and press F2 on your keyboard.
The text does not resize with the shape. Once a shape has a text on it, new sets of options Character and Margins appear between Stroke and Shadow and Reflection. Use these options to configure the characteristics of the text such as font size, font face, color, and alignment. These options will be discussed in details in a future post about text.
Lines and shapes are among the useful visual elements in an elearning material. Use them and customize them according to your instructional design: diagrams, concepts maps, flow charts, among others, and they can help in the learning process of your audience or students.
Last updated on 23 Oct 2020.
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