Shapes: An overview

Shapes are a way to use existing content or page information and either derive new content or clip the existing content on a page.

This can come in handy in number of scenarios, e.g. when:

  • adding white background to be printed behind the page content, but not in areas where nothing is printed
  • adding partial varnish on certain objects
  • creating a dieline based on page content or page geometry
  • clipping page content where for example irregularly shapes have to be imposed without wasting space on the imposed sheet as would be the case if the imposition would be based on the bounding rectangle of the label
  • create versions of complex production files that clip or overlay distracting technical content and allow an unobstructed view of the main page content, e.g the label as it will actually appear out of the printing process

In order to enable these and many more uses, the Shapes feature are configured in two steps

  • the actual shape(s) have to be defined; at this stage "shapes" are considered to just be abstract definitions of some area(s) on a page
  • next, an action is defined that is executed using the defined shape(s); for example, a shape can be filled, outlined or used for clipping

Both steps come with a number of parameters that determine exactly how shapes are created, or how actions are to be executed. The necessary details are discussed in the next two articles.

Designing shapes

In many cases, the use of shapes will be obvious. For example, when creating a die line based on the trim box, optionally with rounded corners, a user would simply define shape based on the page's trim box, set rounded corner radius to 3mm, and would then define the action to be applied to the sahpe as a spot color outline with a spot color named "Dieline".

In other cases more complex requirements may have to be accommodated. For example, when a partial has to  be created over any part of the page where something is actually printed, except one area where the barcode goes, as this area shall not become glossy (it is difficult to read barcodes with a glossy surface). While this can be achieved relatively easily using the Shapes feature, it can quickly become confusing, especially at the beginning, as Shapes are defined in a very abstract fashion. 

In all cases where shapes are to be defined and used in non-trivial ways, it is highly recommended to make a simple drawing, using old fashioned pencil and paper, reflecting the expected page content page geometry and so forth, and the draw the shape information to be derived, and how it is to be derived based on existing information. When doing this, please also note, that in some cases two or more separate steps may be necessary. In such a case a Process Plan may be used, that runs a sequence of Shape steps.