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Flat topped octagons

Flat topped octagonOther Pictures, Problems and Procedures

Flat-topped octagons

Flat-topped octagons are not the easiest thing to draw. You might, of course, use diagonal lines to cut the corners off a square, but it's tricky getting those sloping sides the same length as the others. Once you've tried this way, you'll find it's not as complicated as it looks at first glance.

Wingdings2 characters Alt+0196 and Alt+0197 are octagons.

If you would like to work in Paint while you follow these directions, do remember that you can resize your browserA Browser is the program you use to visit sites on the Internet. Internet Explorer (IE) may be the browser that you use, but there are many others, such as Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, K-Meleon and Blackbird.
You can have as many browsers as you like, and run more than one at the same time.
window. If the window is maximised—taking up the whole screen—you'll first need to click the restore button (the middle one of these) restore button, then just hover your cursor over a side edge of the browser window until a double-headed arrow appears, press your left mouse button and drag left or right until the window is a suitable size.

You can then grab the browser window by the title bar and drag it to the position that you want it in. You can do this with almost any window on your computer.

Open workspace.bmp or workspace.gif. If you haven't made that yet, please read Your workspace file. The infomation there is important, and will make all the difference to easy working. You only need to set up the workspace once and you're all set.

About colors used in construction

There's no magic in the colors used for each construction line. Very occasionally it's easier to see which line is which if they're colored differently, but mostly it just makes communication easier.

If I can say, "Trace along the blue line until it meets a pink line", we both know where we are. Once you have the ideas down pat, you'll probably prefer to use just one or two colors for all construction lines.

Obviously, once the shape is complete and the construction lines have been removed, you can recolor the finished octagon.   top

Draw one small square

Line tool

RectangleClick the Rectangle tool and choose the top option, outline with no fill.

Have red as your foreground color and white as background. red on left, white on right

small red squareDraw a small red square. Mine is 75 by 75, but size doesn't matter. Anything bigger than that is fine, too, but if you go much below 50 by 50 the shape won't be quite right.

Double the small square

Rectangular Selection iconClick on the rectangular selection tool.

transparency optionClick on the Transparency option.

Draw a rectangular selection marquee just outside of the red square and hold the Ctrl key as you begin to drag a copy to the right.

copy the squareJoin the copy to the original. There should be a single line between the two squares. If it looks thick, move it slightly until it looks like this.

Click away to paste the copy.

Four squares to make a big one

copy againNow draw a marquee around the double red square and hold the Ctrl key as you begin to pull a copy downwards.

Again watching out for double lines, join the copy to the one above it.

Now you have a red square with a cross in the middle.   top


Draw diagonals

Click on the Line tool

Position of cursor for drawing first diagonalDraw first diagonalPut your cursor on the top left corner of the larger red square, hold the Shift key and draw down to bottom right.

The Shift key will keep the line at exactly 45°, and it doesn't matter if you go a bit past the bottom corner.

Draw the other diagonal

Draw the other diagonal in the same way, starting from the top right corner.


Draw a circle

Change your foreground color to black.

ellipse tool, top optionDraw a black circleClick on the Ellipse tool and choose the top option, outline with no fill.

I zoomed in to 2x to draw my circle. You may not need to.

Position your cursor on the top left-hand corner of the square just as you did when drawing the first diagonal. Draw a circle that touches each side of the square in exactly the same way.

cursor on bottom right cornerTo do this you need to finish slightly below and slightly to the right of the bottom right corner.   top

Draw a rotated square

Position cursor exactlyChange colors again. I chose strong blue.

Put your cursor exactly at top centre. The horizontal arms need to be right on the horizontal line and the bottom vertical arm should be right on the vertical line.

First line of rotated squareHold the Shift key and draw a line towards middle left of the big square. Again, if your line goes a bit too far, it doesn't matter.

Cursor position on sideCursor position on sideFor the next line, position your cursor with the same care. No matter where the first blue line ended, this is where you start the next blue line. Hold the Shift key and draw the line down to centre bottom. Draw two more lines in the same way to finish the rotated square.   top

rotated square completed



Draw an inner square

Change your foreground color. I chose pink.

Rectangle toolClick on the Rectangle tool.

Now you're going to draw another square, this one inside the circle. I found it very difficult to get that square starting and ending in the right places.

beginning inner square

Mark for corner of squareAfter getting it wrong several times, I zoomed right in to 8x and used the Pencil tool to draw in the top left and bottom right corners of the square.

When I went back to a 2x view, I was able to put my cursor exactly over the top left mark and draw the square down to the bottom right mark.

Corners markedinnersquareThe first time I did this I marked all four corners; I didn't really need the top right and bottom left marks, but seeing that my square had covered them was reassuring.   top


Draw the guidelines for the octagon

Now you can draw the actual guidelines for your octagon!

If you're planning to use the Polygon tool, you may feel that this step is unnecessary. The thing is, if you get one of these lines wrong (as in crooked) you only have to undo that line. When you're making the octagon itself, "Undo" means "undo the whole thing", which isn't funny if you've almost finished.

I feel more confident if I've already marked my clicking points.

Anyway, you may decide that the Polygon tool is over-kill. You don't really have to use it at all.

* * * * *

There are eight lines to draw, but the good news is that the Shift key will help all the way.

Change your foreground color to silver.

Click the Line tool.

Do continue to work with a single pixel line. Zoomed in to 2x or more, you can see what's what quite easily. When you come to make your octagon, you'll find it's just about impossible to know where corners are if the guidelines are thicker than one pixel.

Beginning the silver lineYou'll be able to use lines of any thickness once the template is finished and saved.   top

Start the outline

Put your cursor over the intersection of a pink line and a blue line.


Draw the first silver lineHold the Shift key while you trace the pink line until it meets another blue line. Release the mouse button.

The next line begins where that one ended. With your cursor exactly on the intersection, and still holding the Shift key, trace the blue line you just came to—until you meet pink again.

second silver line

Proceed like this until you get back to the first silver line.

Silver all aroundYou can now see—rather faintly in this picture—the outline of a regular octagon. Once the template is saved and safe, you can start making it look like something.   top


Save the template

All of that took considerable time and care, so do save this template before you go any further.

Rectangular Selection iconClick on the rectangular selection tool.

Draw a rectangular selection a few pixels outside of the red square

Click Edit on the menu bar and choose Copy To.

Type a name in the dialogue box that appears: octagon__flat_template or a name of your own choosing.

(It's also, of course, a template for an 8-pointed star. Just depends how you look at it.smile)

Make sure that you're saving as a 256 color bmp in 98 and XP or a gif in Vista.

Click Save.

Save a copy in your workspace

While the selection is still active—that is, while it has a marquee of little dashes around it—press the Ctrl key as you begin to drag and drag a copy out of the way somewhere.

Now that you've made the template, drawing the octagon itself is very simple, and you may like to make more than one.   top

Draw the octagon

From this point, there are two ways that you can go.

You can use the Polygon tool, which gives you neat corners even when you use a thick line.


You can use the shape you have outlined already. If you want either a solid color with no outline or an octagon with a thin outline, go for this option. It's quicker, for one thng.

Here's what you do.

Outlined octagon using Flood Fill tool

Add a green borderDraw a green border around the whole picture. It doesn't have to be neat. It's just to stop flooded colors going all over the page.

Flood Fill toolClick on the Flood Fill tool.

Have red as your foreground color and white as background.red on left, white on right flood middle with red, white, redGo to the middle of the picture and click with your left mouse button, then with your right and once more with the left. You now have a red octagon with a silver outline.

Use the Flood Fill tool to remove the construction lines. If you're not sure about that, here's how to remove construction lines with Flood Fill tool.

Remove construction linesThat done, you'll have a red octagon with a fine silver outline.

Flood with whiteShould you want the outline only, just click the red with your right mouse button—presuming that that's still set to white.

And there you have it!   top

eraser toolchange silver to brownYou can use the color eraser to change the silver outline to any color you like. Silver on the left button, wanted color on the right. Press the right button as you rub over the outline.

When you've finished removing construction lines, click white onto that protective green border.

Save the finished octagon


Solid octagon using Flood Fill tool

Then flood with silverRemove construction linesIf you don't want an outline at all; just a solid block of one color, then, after flooding the octagon shape with red, pick up silver from the palette and flood with that.

Remove construction lines and the green border and you're done. You can now use one click of the Flood Fill tool to change the color to whatever you want.

Outlined octagon using Line tool

If you want a thicker outline, click on the Line tool and select the option for your preferred thickness.

Click on a color in the palette—but not one of those used in the picture so far.

Simply retrace the lines that made up the silver outline.

Cursor on intersectionFor each line, take care in finding the correct starting and ending points. Ignore the new line that you're drawing; line the cursor up with the original single pixel construction lines.

Cursor on intersection

Hold the Shift key while you draw each line, and release the mouse button when you get to each end point.

When the shape is complete, you may need to zoom in and use the Pencil tool to tidy up some corners.   top

Once the shape is complete, remove the construction lines.

Save the finished octagon

About polygon drawing

When you are drawing a polygon, you need only drag the first line. Thereafter you just click each point and the line will follow your clicks.

An unfortunate thing about the Polygon tool is that if you have to click Undo because one line is wrong, the whole polygon disappears and you have to start again.

However, with this particular shape, a nice thing is that it's made of the three kinds of lines that the Shift key controls, so provided that your starting places are spot on, your octagon will be perfectly shaped.

Oh, another thing: should you click away before the polygon is finished—say to hit File > Save—Paint will presume that that was a click of the polygon and it'll draw another line.

Outlined octagon using polygon tool

Line thickness 3 pixelsClick the Line tool and set line thickness to 3 or 5 pixels.

Click the Polygon tool.

Filled and outlined polygonTo make an outlined octagon choose the second of the polygon options, which means filled and outlined.

The top option is for outline with no fill, but if you use that the guidelines will show through. With the second option, and with white as your background color, you'll get a white fill, neatly covering the guidelines.   top

background color is whiteChoose a color that you have not used in the template. (You can change the color of the finished octagon later if you want to.)
Make sure that your background color is set to white.

Put your cursor in the same place you used for the first silver line.First line of polygon

Trace the line to the next intersection.

Continue polygonRelease your mouse button, hover over the next intersection and click. The line will come to the place where you clicked.

Continue around the shape in the same way, clicking on each intersection in turn.

Double click hereWhen you get to the second-last corner—where the arrow is pointing—double click. (It's fine to go right back to the starting point before you double click. Results will be the same.)

Finished outlineWhen you double click, the polygon outline will jump to your starting point and the octagon will be complete.

All that remains is to remove the construction lines.

For this particular picture, repeated left-then-right clicking with the Flood Fill tool is perfect. (I nearly said "bonza" but that might not be universally understood. Oops!)

Remove construction lines with Flood Fill tool

Save the finished octagon   top

Using the Polygon tool for a colored octagon with a border

Line thickness 3 pixelsClick the Line tool and set line thickness to 2, 3, 4 or 5 pixels, whichever you prefer.

Click the Polygon tool.

Filled and outlined polygonTo make an outlined octagon choose the second of the polygon options, which means filled and outlined.

In the color palette, click with your left button on the color you want to be used for the border of the shape.

With your right button, click on the color you want for the fill.

The rest of the process is exactly the same as for the outlined octagon using the polygon tool.

A couple of points

You could, of course, make the outline polygon above and then fill the white area with the Flood Fill tool.

If you draw with your right button pressed instead of the left one, the fill and border colors will be reversed.

As soon as your shape is finished, put white back onto your right button.

Solid octagon using polygon tool

Solid polygonClick the Polygon tool.

To make an solid octagon without a line around it, choose the third of the polygon options, which means solid shape with no outline.

The rest of the process is exactly the same as for the outlined octagon using the polygon tool.   top


Remove construction lines with Flood Fill tool

Whenever you're going to make repeated use of the Flood Fill tool, put a border around the part you're working on so as to limit the spread of color.

A working page often has more work on it than the bit you're concentrating on. Whenever I get something right and know I might want to go back to it, I drag a copy off to an empty part of my work space. Sometimes you may be building up a picture and have put each part off to the right somewhere, to be copied later. Any or all of these things could be spoiled or removed by flooding. Therefore, a border is always the first step.

That done you'd click on the Flood Fill tool, make sure that you have white as your background color and take steps similar to these.

With red, click between the protective border and the big red square. Then click with your right button to remove the red.

Clear construction lines by floodingThe black circle is enclosing nearly everything else, so flood inside the border with black.


Click your right button to remove the black.

Clear construction lines by floodingThen flood with blue and then with red.

A last right click removes the red and you're left with just the shape you wanted.

If you had some construction lines inside the shape, a couple more clicks will get rid of those as well.   top

Go back to Outlined octagon using Flood Fill tool or Outlined octagon using polygon tool.

Save the finished octagon

When you've completed an octagon and it's ready to be used, save it as a separate file.

Rectangular Selection iconClick on the rectangular selection tool

Draw a rectangular selection a few pixels outside of the red square

Click Edit on the menu bar and choose Copy To.

Type a name in the dialogue box that appears: octagon__solid01, octagon__outlined01 or a name of your own choosing.

Check that the Save as type box reads 256 color bmp in 98 and XP, or gif in Vista.

Click the Save button.

Once you've saved each finished picture individually, you can clear your work space and save it ready for your next project.

Clean your workspace

After you've copied and saved the picture, have a quick look around your workspace to make sure there's nothing else you want to copy and save. If there is something, copy and save it now, using the same Copy To procedure.


Make sure that you have white as your background color.

Go to the Edit menu and click Select All.

Hit the Delete key.

Go to the File menu and click Save.

Close Paint.



Other Pictures, Problems and Procedures


Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you, especially if you have helpful suggestions regarding any one of this set of pages. They were begun in response to some reader questions and I've arrived at solutions through trial and error. As I went over the exercises and tried to follow my own instructions, I several times saw a quicker or easier way to do something and it's likely that readers may still see some better solutions.
My email address is here.

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