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Google Drawings Overview

Purpose

This article is an overview of the Google Drawings program. Google Drawings is an application as part of the Google Drive suite of applications (along with Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Maps). This guide will cover the creation and manipulation of the various content types available within the program.

Prerequisites

Creating a Drawings file

Google Drawings can be found as part of Google Drive. To create a new Drawings file, select the New button (in the upper-left corner), go to the More option, then select Google Drawings.

Google Drive New File menu with More and Google Drawings highlighted

Once the Drawings file is created, you can name it so that you can easily find it again.

Content

Google Drawings acts like similar drawing programs in that you can select a content type and put it onto the digital canvas. Content objects include various types of lines and shapes can be added along with text boxes and images.

Content Types

The content types available are wide-ranging and include the following:

  • Lines
    • includes arrows, connectors, curves, polylines, and scribbles
  • Shapes
    • includes shapes, arrows, callouts, and equation symbols
  • Images
  • Text Boxes

If you are unsure, you can hover your mouse’s cursor over the button along the menu to find the content type you wish to add.

Adding and arranging content

To add content, click on the content type button you wish to add to your canvas, then click anywhere on the canvas. Once it is added, then you can adjust the size and scale of it by adjusting its object handles.

In most cases, select the content type and click on the canvas and it will appear. Some exceptions like the curve will keep adding line segments until you double-click and the polyline will stop once you click on the starting point (to close the shape).

All content types has formatting options that can be altered more precisely from the Format Options pane.

When an object is selected, the format options button becomes available which allows for a frame to appear on the right-hand side with more precise options

Additionally, you can select a content object and adjust it by grabbing one of the object handles that surround it when selected.

A highlighted circle on the Drawings canvas with instructions on how to arrange the shape, size, and scale of the circle. Bounding box handles on the top, top-right, right-middle, and bottom are highlighted as well

Object handles can allow for the rotation and resizing of any content object by clicking-and-dragging the handle with your primary mouse button in the desired direction. Release the mouse button once the object has reached your desired size

Rearranging multiple pieces of content

At any point, you can select a piece of content and rearrange its shape and size. You can also do this with multiple pieces in certain cases. A good example can be see in creating a grid using text boxes and lines:

Three highlighted text boxes with content handles highlighted to showcase different ways to arrange them all together

In the illustration above, a text box was created, copied two times, and arranged to where they all align horizontally and overlap to create a one-row, three-column grid.

  • If you drag your mouse’s cursor across the collection of the three text boxes, you can select all of them at once (this can also be done by holding the Shift key and selecting each box until all are selected).
  • You can then select the bounding box you wish to move and the other two will move the same distance by the same relative point – if you were to move the handle on the right-middle, the other boxes will adjust according to that point as well. Since they are all selected, they will move together as one unit and no overlap should occur.

Considerations while creating

Google Drawings is limited in comparison to more sophisticated illustration programs in that it does not have the ability to assign content to separate layers. This can become an issue when objects are overlapping one another. There is a workaround, however, that will allow you to arrange content by a bottom-to-top sort of order.

If you select a content object, you can arrange it to be on top of or beneath an overlapping content object by selecting the Arrange menu, hovering the mouse cursor over Order and choosing to have the object move forward or backward.

Printing

Page Setup

Setting up your page is useful especially when you are looking to create a printable drawing. To make the necessary changes, go to the File menu then select Page Setup to proceed.

Page setup dialog with drop-down menu open

A dialog box will appear with a drop-down menu to select the different presets and to add a custom size. For letter-size drawings, select Custom. Press OK to save your changes.

Page Setup dialog with Custom dimensions