Getting Started Guide

Chapter 7  
Getting Started with Draw

Vector Drawing in LibreOffice


This document is Copyright © 2010–2016 by the LibreOffice Documentation Team. Contributors are listed below. You may distribute it and/or modify it under the terms of either the GNU General Public License (, version 3 or later, or the Creative Commons Attribution License (, version 4.0 or later.

All trademarks within this guide belong to their legitimate owners.


Peter Schofield

Jean Hollis Weber

Hazel Russman

Ron Faile Jr.

Olivier Hallot



Please direct any comments or suggestions about this document to the Documentation Team’s mailing list:

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This chapter is adapted and updated from Chapter 7 of Getting Started with 3.3. The contributors to that chapter are:

Agnes Belzunce

Chris Bonde

Daniel Carrera

Regina Henschel

Michel Pinquier

Iain Roberts

Gary Schnabl

Joe Sellman

Jim Taylor

Alex Thurgood

Jean Hollis Weber

Linda Worthington

Michele Zarri



Publication date and software version

Published 21 July 2016. Based on LibreOffice 5.1.

Note for Mac users

Some keystrokes and menu items are different on a Mac from those used in Windows and Linux. The table below gives some common substitutions for the instructions in this chapter. For a more detailed list, see the application Help.

Windows or Linux

Mac equivalent


Tools > Options menu selection

LibreOffice > Preferences

Access setup options   


Control+click and/or right-click depending on computer setup

Open a context menu

Ctrl (Control)

⌘ (Command)

Used with other keys



Open the Navigator



Open the Styles and Formatting window







Publication date and software version

Note for Mac users

What is Draw?

Draw main window


Pages pane

Layers bar



Status bar


Standard toolbar

Drawing toolbar

Line and Filling toolbar

Text Formatting toolbar

Options toolbar

Working with layers

Adding a layer

Choosing and defining colors

Drawing basic shapes

Drawing a straight line

Drawing an arrow

Choosing line endings

Drawing rectangles or squares

Drawing circles or ellipses

Drawing curves or polygons



Polygons 45°

Freeform lines

Adding text

Glue points and connectors

Glue points


Drawing geometric shapes

Basic shapes

Symbol shapes

Block arrows



Stars and banners

Selecting objects

Direct selection

Selection by framing

Selecting hidden objects

Arranging objects

Moving and adjusting object size

Moving objects

Adjusting object size

Rotating and slanting an object

Rotating an object

Slanting an object

Editing objects

Line and Filling toolbar

Text Formatting toolbar

Sidebar Properties

Context menu

Formatting lines and borders

Arrows, arrowheads, and line endings

Formatting area fill

Using styles

Positioning objects

Snap function

Snap to grid

Displaying the grid

Configuring the grid

Help lines

Applying special effects

Flipping objects

Mirror copies

Distorting an object

Dynamic transparency gradients



Combining multiple objects


Temporary grouping

Permanent grouping


Combining objects

Arranging, aligning, and distributing objects

Inserting and editing pictures

Working with 3D objects

Exporting graphics

Inserting comments in a drawing


What is Draw?

LibreOffice Draw is a vector graphics drawing program, although it can also perform some operations on raster graphics (pixels). Using Draw, you can quickly create a wide variety of graphical images.

Vector graphics store and display an image as an assembly of simple geometric elements such as lines, circles, and polygons, rather than a collection of pixels (points on the screen). Vector graphics allow for easier storage and scaling of the image.

Draw is fully integrated into the LibreOffice suite, and this simplifies exchanging graphics with all components of the suite. For example, if you create an image in Draw, reusing it in a Writer document is as simple as copying and pasting the image. You can also work with drawings directly from within Writer or Impress, using a subset of the functions and tools from Draw.

The functionality of LibreOffice Draw is extensive and, even though it was not designed to rival high-end graphics applications, it possesses more functionality than the drawing tools that are generally integrated with most office productivity suites.

A few examples of the drawing functions are: layer management, magnetic grid-point system, dimensions and measurement display, connectors for making organization charts, 3D functions that enable small three-dimensional drawings to be created (with texture and lighting effects), drawing and page-style integration, and Bézier curves.

This chapter introduces some features of Draw and does not attempt to cover all of the Draw features. See the Draw Guide and the application help for more information.

Draw main window

The main components of the Draw main window are shown in Figure 1:


The large area in the center of the window (Workspace) is where you create your drawings and this drawing area can be surrounded with toolbars and information areas. The number and position of the visible tools vary with the task in hand and user preferences, therefore your setup may look different from Figure 1.

In LibreOffice Draw, the maximum size of a drawing is 300 cm by 300 cm.

Pages pane

You can split drawings in Draw over several pages. Multi-page drawings are used mainly for presentations. The Pages pane gives an overview of the pages that you create in your drawing. If the Pages pane is not visible, go to View on the Menu bar and select Page Pane. To make changes to the page order, drag and drop one or more pages.


Figure 1: LibreOffice Draw workspace


Layers bar

A layer is a workspace where you insert your drawings elements and objects. The layers bar is located on the bottom of the workplace and contains the guides for layer selection and layer command. For more information on layers see “Working with layers“ on page 10.


The Sidebar has four main sections. To expand a section, click on its icon or click on the small triangle at the top of the icons and select a section from the drop down list. Only one section at a time can be open. If the Sidebar is not visible, go to View on the Menu bar and select Sidebar from the context menu.


Opens sub-sections for object properties that you can change to suit your requirements. The sub-sections are Insert Shapes, Character, Paragraph, Area, Line and Position and Size.

Styles and Formatting

Here you can edit and apply image styles to objects within your drawing. When you edit a style, the changes are automatically applied to all of the elements formatted with this image style in your drawing.


Opens the Drawing gallery where you can insert an object into your drawing either as a copy or as a link. A copy of an object is independent of the original object. Changes to the original object have no effect on the copy. A link remains dependent on the original object. Changes to the original object are also reflected in the link.


Opens the Drawing navigator, in which you can quickly move between pages in your drawing or select an object on the drawing. It is recommended to give pages and objects in your drawing meaningful names so that you can easily identify them when using the Navigator.


You should see rulers (bars with numbers) on the upper and left-hand sides of the workspace. If they are not visible, you can enable them by selecting View > Ruler in the Menu bar. The rulers show the size of a selected object on the page using double lines (highlighted in Figure 2). When no object is selected, they show the location of the mouse pointer, which helps to position drawing objects more accurately.

You can also use the rulers to manage object handles and guide lines, making it easier to position objects.

The page margins in the drawing area are also represented on the rulers. You can change the margins directly on the rulers by dragging them with the mouse. The margin area is indicated by the grayed out area on the rulers as shown in Figure 2.