Documentation/OOoAuthors User Manual/Impress Guide/Creating Graphic Objects

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This is Chapter 5 of 2.x Impress Guide (first edition), produced by the OOoAuthors group. A PDF of this chapter is available from the OOoAuthors Guides page at

<< User Manuals page
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<< Chapter 4 Adding and Formatting Pictures   |   Chapter 6 Formatting Graphic Objects >>


This chapter describes how to create your own graphics using the drawing tools available in Impress. It focuses on the most commonly used tools and techniques.

Impress also contains a number of advanced drawing functions that are rarely used when creating a presentation and are not fully described in this book. To create more advanced graphic objects, the reader is invited to use Draw and then to import the graphic object created there into an Impress slide. See the Draw Guide for more details.

The Drawing toolbar

The Drawing toolbar collects the majority of the tools normally used to create graphic objects. If this toolbar is not showing, select View > Toolbars > Drawing from the main menu bar.

First part of Drawing toolbar
First section of Drawing toolbar with drawing objects tools.

The toolbar can be divided into two parts. The first part (shown above) contains drawing objects. The tools in this part of the Drawing toolbar are:

  • Select: selects objects. To select multiple objects click on the top leftmost object and while keeping the mouse button pressed, drag the mouse to the bottom rightmost object of the intended selection. A marching ants rectangle identifying the selection area is displayed. It is also possible to select several objects by pressing the Control button while selecting the individual objects.
  • Line: draws a straight line.
  • Arrow: draws a straight line ending with an arrowhead. The arrowhead will be placed where you release the mouse button.
  • Rectangle: draws a rectangle. Press the Shift button to draw a square.
  • Ellipse: draws an ellipse. Press the Shift button to draw a circle.
  • Text: creates a text box with text aligned horizontally.
  • Vertical text: creates a text box with text aligned vertically. This tool is available only when Asian language support has been enabled in Tools > Options > Language Settings > Languages.
  • Curve: draws a curve. Click the black triangle for more options, shown below. Note that the title of the submenu when undocked is Lines.
Available curve options.
  • Connectors: draws a connector line between two figures. Click the black triangle for additional connectors, shown below. The use of connectors is described in Working with connectors.
Connectors options.
  • Basic Shapes, Symbol Shapes, Block Arrows, Flowcharts, Callouts, Stars: click the black triangle to open a toolbar showing the available shapes in that category. The default shapes are shown below. Select the desired shape, then draw as normal. Keep the Shift key pressed to obtain a shape where the height and width are equal.
Available shapes for Impress.

The second part of the Drawing toolbar, shown below, contains more generic tools.

Second part of Drawing toolbar
The second section of the Drawing toolbar with utility tools.

Those tools are:

  • Edit points: select this tool, then select a shape or a line, to edit the individual points that form the shape or line.
  • Glue points: select this tool to edit the glue points of a graphic object. Glue points are the positions where connector lines terminate or start. See Managing glue points for instructions.
  • Fontwork: opens the Fontworks gallery. See Using Fontwork for further information.
  • From file: equivalent to Insert > Picture > From file on the main menu. See Chapter 4 for details.
  • Gallery: opens the gallery. Equivalent to Tools > Gallery on the main menu. See Chapter 4 for details.
  • Rotate: select this tool to rotate an object. As rotation is considered a formatting attribute, this is discussed in Chapter 6.
  • Align object: see Aligning shapes.
  • Arrange object: see Arranging shapes.
  • Extrusion On/Off: switches 3D effects on or off for the selected object. Clicking this button also opens the 3D settings toolbar. See Working with 3D shapes for details.
  • Interaction: opens a dialog where you can specify the interaction between the user and the object. See Setting up interaction with a shape or image.
  • Visible buttons: use the black triangle to open a menu that allows to add or subtract buttons to the toolbar. The step by step procedure is given in Chapter 4 of the Getting Started guide.

Creating lines and shapes

To create shapes and lines:

  1. Select the desired line or shape tool.
  2. Click and drag to create the object on the slide. See Figure 6.

When drawing a polygon, keep the Shift key pressed to restrict the angle between the segments to multiples of 45 degrees. To finish drawing a polygon, double-click on the last part of the segment. If a closed polygon was selected, OOo will color the inside area.

When drawing certain shapes, one or more yellow dots are displayed along with the blue resizing handles. These dots perform a different function according to the shape they are applied to. With the basic shapes the yellow dot (or dots) are used for the following purposes:

  • Rounded rectangle and Rounded square shapes: use the yellow dot to change the size of the curve replacing the corners.
  • Circle Pie: use the two yellow dots to change the size of the filled sector.
  • Isosceles triangle: move the yellow dot on one vertex to modify the triangle type.
  • Trapezoid, Parallelogram, or Octagon: move the yellow dot to change the angle between the sides.
  • Cross: use the yellow dot to change the thickness of the four sides.
  • Ring: use the yellow dot to change the internal diameter.
  • Block arc: use the yellow dot to change both the internal diameter and the size of the filled area.
  • Cylinder and Cube: use the yellow dot to change the perspective.
  • Folded corner: use the yellow dot to change the size of the corner.
  • Frame: use the yellow dot to change the internal rectangle diagonal.

Working with connectors

Connectors are lines that can be anchored to particular places, called glue points, on the graphic object. The advantage of connectors is that when the graphic object to which the connector is attached is moved or resized, the connector automatically adjusts to the change. When creating a flowchart, org chart, schematics or diagrams, it is highly recommended to use connectors instead of simple lines.

Impress offers a wide variety of predefined connectors, which differ in the termination shape (none, arrow, custom) and in the way the connector is drawn (straight, line, curved). See Figure 3: Connectors options.

Unlike normal lines, when a connector is drawn or selected Impress displays red handles; in particular, the termination points are identified by red circles, while square handles are used to modify the routing of a connector (where applicable).

Draw a connector in a similar way to drawing any object. First select the connector style from the Connector toolbar (Figure 3), then move the mouse cursor over one of the objects to be connected. When the cursor is brought near an object, small black crosses appear around the object; these represent the glue points to which the connector can be attached. Click on the required glue point to attach one end of the connector, then hold the mouse button down and drag the connector to the second object and click on a glue point on that object to connect the other end.

For instructions on how to format a connector, refer to the corresponding section in Chapter 6 (Formatting Graphic Objects).

Managing glue points

As described above, a glue point is the point of attachment for a connector to a shape or graphic object. Each shape has a number of predefined glue points, but it is possible to define new ones as well as edit them, using the Gluepoints toolbar, shown in Figure 7.


Use the first tool to insert a new glue point. The next four tools determine the exit direction of the connector terminating at the glue point. To maintain the relative position of the glue point when resizing the object, make sure that the Glue point relative icon (highlighted in Figure 7) is selected. Deselecting the Glue point relative icon enables the next six icons of the toolbar; use these to fix the position of the gluepoint during the resizing of the object. Hover the mouse over the buttons to obtain a tooltip giving a short description of its function.

To delete a custom glue point, select it with the mouse and press the Delete key.

Setting custom glue points is particularly useful where multiple connectors terminate on the same side of a shape or where the default glue point position is not satisfactory.

To move a predefined or newly inserted glue point:

  1. Select the glue point tool from the drawing toolbar (see Figure 5).
  2. Click on the glue point you want to move. The glue point should now be highlighted.
  3. Keep the mouse button pressed and drag the glue point to the desired position. Release the mouse button.

Tip: Glue points are placed by default on the grid (see the section “Alignment using the grid and snap guides“ on page 9 for information), however it is sometimes required to fine tune the position of the glue point depending on the shape. To do this, keep the Control key pressed while dragging the glue point to the new position.

Working with 3D shapes

3D graphic objects can be created in different ways in Impress:

  • From the 3D-Objects toolbar. The 3D-Objects tool is not included in the default Drawing toolbar. To include it, click on the small triangle at the end of the toolbar, select Visible Buttons, and select 3D-Objects from the list. On the Drawing toolbar, click on the triangle by the 3D-Objects icon to display the extended 3D Objects toolbar (Figure 8).
  • From Convert menu as Rotation. Select an object, right-click on it, then select Convert and select To 3D Rotation Object.
  • From the Extrusion on/off icon on the drawing toolbar. Select the shape to which apply a 3D effect, then click the inline:graphics73.png button on the Drawing toolbar (see Figure 9).

Caution You can not apply extrusion to rectangular and oval shapes created using the rectangle and the oval tools respectively. To create a rectangle or oval with 3D effects, select the desired shape from the basic shapes menu. Alternatively, right-click on the object then select Convert > To 3D. Note though that in this case the Extrusion on/off menu will not be enabled.

Although Impress offers advanced functions to manipulate 3D objects, this book describes only the 3D settings applicable to an object with Extrusion enabled. For additional information on how to use advanced 3D effects such as geometry and shading, refer to the Draw Guide.

Click on inline:graphics74.png to activate the extrusion. The shape changes and a default thickness is added to it. At the same time the 3D-Settings toolbar (Figure 9) should become visible. If the toolbar does not appear, select View > Toolbars > 3D-Settings.


Use the tools to change the appearance of the 3D object.

inline:graphics76.png Extrusion On/Off: adds thickness to an object and activates the 3D properties.

inline:graphics77.png Tilt Down: tilts the object downwards around an horizontal axis.

inline:graphics78.png Tilt Up: tilts the object up around an horizontal axis.

inline:graphics79.png Tilt Left: tilts the object left around a vertical axis.

inline:graphics80.png Tilt Right: tilts the object right around a vertical axis.

inline:graphics81.png Depth: determines the thickness of the shape. An extended toolbar opens where some default values are given. If none of them is satisfactory, select Custom and then enter the desired thickness.

inline:graphics82.png Direction: pick the direction of the perspective as well as the type among parallel and perspective from the extended toolbar that opens when clicking the button.

inline:graphics83.png Lighting: specify the direction of the light as well as its intensity from the extended toolbar that opens when clicking this button.

inline:graphics84.png Surface: choose between Wire frame (useful when manipulating the object), Matt, Plastic or Metal.

inline:graphics85.png 3D Color: select the color of the object thickness.

Most of the Fontwork shapes (see “Using Fontwork" on page 15) have 3D properties and can be manipulated with the 3D-Settings toolbar.

Note that when rotating a 3D object, in addition to the corner red handles, the four handles on the sides of the frame become available.

Figure 10 is an example of customized 3D object.


Grouping shapes together

It is often convenient to group shapes together so that they are treated as a single shape by Impress. A group of shapes can be formatted as if it was a single shape, moved, rotated, deleted and so on. To group shapes together, do as follows:

    1. Select the shapes to be grouped. To do this, use the selection tool on the drawing toolbar and draw a rectangle around the shapes to be grouped, or click on each shape to be added to the group while pressing the Shift key.
    2. When the green resizing handles show, select Format > Group > Group or press Control+Shift+G on the keyboard.
Once the group is defined, click on any of the shapes in the group to select the group. To edit only the elements of the group, press F3 when the group is selected or select Format > Group > Enter group from the menu bar. Notice that the elements not part of the group are grayed out and that only the shapes belonging to the group can be edited. Use this function when you need to apply a particular format to a single member of the group. To exit from group mode, press Control+F3 or select Format > Group > Exit group from the menu bar.
For more about working with grouped objects, see Chapter 6 (Combining Multiple Objects) in the Draw Guide.
To ungroup objects:
    1. Select the group of shapes.
    2. When the green resizing handles show, select Edit > Format > Group > Ungroup from the menu bar.
Tip If you use the grouping and ungrouping often, why not adding them to one of the toolbars shown by default so that the commands are readily available? To do so, you will need to customize the selected toolbar. See Chapter 4 of the Getting Started guide.

'Arranging shapes'Arranging shapes

Arrange determines the stacking order of the selected object. Impress organizes objects in a stack so that the objects on a high level of the stack cover the objects on lower levels if overlapping occurs. To modify the position of an object in the stack, click the small triangle on the side of the Arrange icon to open the extended toolbar (Figure 11). The same arrange options described below are available from the right-click menu.
The first four tools work on a single object:
    • Bring to front: the selected object is moved on top of any other object.
    • Bring forward: the selected object is moved one level up in the stack.
    • Send backwards: the selected object is moved one level down in the stack.
    • Send to back: the selected object is given the lowest position in the stack.
The other three tools work on the relative positions of two objects:
    • In front of object: brings the selected object in front of the second selected object.
    • Behind object: brings the selected object behind the second selected object.
    • Reverse: swaps the stacking order of two selected objects.
To use the In front of object and Behind object tools:
    1. Select the first object by clicking on it.
    2. When the green handles show, select the desired arrange action.
    3. The mouse pointer changes to a pointing hand. Click on the second object.

Flipping shapes

To flip an object or group, right-click on it and select either Flip > Vertically or Flip > Horizontally. The object will be flipped around an imaginary axis (horizontal and vertical respectively) passing through the center of the object, or group. If these two commands are used often it may be advisable to add them to the Drawing toolbar.

'Aligning shapes'Aligning shapes

Use the alignment tools to adjust the relative position of a graphic object compared to another object. Clicking on the Alignment icon in the Drawing toolbar opens the extended toolbar (Figure 12). The same alignment options are available from the right-click menu.
The toolbar has six icons. The first three determine the horizontal alignment of the selected objects (Left, Center, Right); the other three determine the vertical alignment of the selected objects (Top, Middle, Bottom). If only one object is selected, it is aligned to the page, however when in a group, a single object is aligned to the edge of the group selection.

'Alignment using the grid and snap guides'Alignment using the grid and snap guides

The section “Aligning shapes" on page 8 discussed the alignment of objects relative to each other or to the page border. However, sometimes it is important to align objects to specific points of the page or to make sure that objects that appear on multiple slides are placed in exactly the same position. For this purpose Impress provides two mechanisms: the Grid and the Snap Guides (also called Snap Lines).
Using the grid
Options for the grid are available in the menu that opens by right-clicking on an empty part of the page in Normal view and choosing Grid or by selecting View > Grid from the menu bar. In both cases a submenu with three options opens:
    • Visible Grid: displays the grid.
    • Snap to Grid: the anchor points of an object will always be placed on a grid when the object is moved or resized.
    • Grid to Front: displays the grid in the foreground.
To set up the grid spacing and snapping options, choose Tools > Options > Impress > Grid from the menu bar.
Using 'snap guides'snap guides
Options for the guides are available in the menu that opens by clicking on an empty part of the page in Normal view and choosing Snap Lines or by selecting View > Guides from the menu bar. A submenu with three options opens:
    • Visible Guides (Snap Lines Visible): the guides are shown on the slide.
    • Snap to Guides (Snap to Snap Lines): the anchor points of the objects snap to the guides when the objet is moved or resized.
    • Guides to Front (Snap Lines to Front): the guides are brought to the foreground and cover the objects.
Note The main menu uses the term Guides, but the pop-up menu refers to Snap Lines.
To create a new Guide:
    1. Right-click on an empty part of the work area and select Insert Snap Point/Line from the pop-up menu.
    2. In the dialog that appears, specify the type (Point, Vertical line, or Horizontal line).
    3. Depending on the choice made, the two edit fields X and Y become active; enter the position of the Guide.
    4. Click OK to close the dialog.
Tip When positioning the Snap Guides, it is useful to display the rulers. To do so, select View > Rulers.
Tip Drag a Snap Guide directly onto the slide by clicking on the ruler and then dragging onto the slide.
To edit a Guide:
    1. Right-click next to or on the guide to be edited.
    2. Select Edit Snap line from the pop-up menu.
    3. Enter the new value (or values) and click OK.
To delete a Guide:
    1. Right-click next or on the guide to be deleted.
    2. Choose Delete Snap line from the pop-up menu.
Figure 13 show the three types of guides, the grid on a slide, and the dialog to create a new Guide.

Converting an object to a different type

You can convert an object into a different type. Right-click on the object and select the Convert to display a menu (Figure 14) containing the following options:
    • To Curve: converts the selected object to a Bézier curve.
    • To Polygon: converts the selected object to a polygon. After the conversion choose Edit Points to edit the shape.
    • To Contour: converts the selected object to a polygon, or a group of polygons. If the conversion creates a group of polygons (for example, when you convert a text object), then press F3 to enter the group before you can select an individual polygon.
    • Convert to 3D: converts the selected object to a three-dimensional (3D) object.
    • Convert to 3D Rotation Object: creates a three-dimensional shape by rotating the selected object around its vertical axis.
    • To Bitmap: converts the selected object to a bitmap.
    • To metafile: converts the selected object to Windows Metafile Format (WMF), containing both bitmap and vector graphic data.

'Setting up interaction with a shape or image'Setting up interaction with a shape or image

You can associate with a shape or an image some action to be performed when the user clicks on it. To create an interaction:
    1. Select the graphic object for which an interaction will be created.
    2. When the green handles show, select from the Drawing toolbar (Figure 1) the Interaction button inline:graphics63.png or right-click on the object and select Interaction from the pop-up menu.
    3. The dialog shown in Figure 15 is displayed. Select the interaction type and the parameters (if applicable). Click OK to close the dialog.
To remove an interaction from a graphic object follow the steps 1-5, above taking care to select No action as the interaction type at step 4.
The possible actions and their parameters are described in Table 1.
Table '1': Interactions and their parameters
Interaction type Parameters
Go to Previous slide No parameters.
Go to Next slide No parameters.
Go to First slide No parameters.
Go to Last slide No parameters.
Go to Page or Object Specify the target from the list in the Target box. You can search for a specific target in the Document box at the bottom of the screen.
Go to Document Select the document in the Document box. Use the Browse button to open a file picker dialog. If the document to be opened is in Open Document Presentation format, the target list will be populated allowing the selection of the specific target in the document.
Play sound Select the file containing the sound to be played. Use the Browse button to open a file picker dialog.
Run program Select the program to execute. Use the Browse button to locate it.
Run Macro Select a macro that will run during the presentation. Use the Browse button to open the macro browser dialog.
Exit presentation When the mouse is clicked over the graphic object, the presentation will terminate.

Animating images

Impress offers some animation functionalities that are typical of specialized programs. An animated image consists of a sequence of images (frames) that are displayed in succession. Each frame may contain one or multiple drawing objects. To start creating a custom animated image open the Animator dialog from Insert > Animated Image (see Figure 16).
Creating an animation
Several mechanisms can be used to create an animated image. This chapter describes only two of them as that should be sufficient to understand the functions offered.
Frame by frame animation
    1. Create the image you intend to animate using the drawing tools.
    2. Select the image and click the Apply Object inline:graphics66.png button. This copies the object (or objects) into the upper part of the Animation dialog.
    3. Apply some transformation to the object; for example, rotate it, change the color, if you are animating a text add or subtract a letter and so on.
    4. When you are ready, create the second frame of the animation and click the Apply Object button again.
    5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have created all the desired frames of the animation.
    6. Select Bitmap object in the Animation group section of the Animator dialog. This allows you to customize the timing of each of the frames and the number of repetitions for the animation (set the value to Max to obtain an infinite loop).
    7. Click Create to place the animated image on the slide.
Note If the image to be copied in the Animator consists of several objects, you can choose to treat each object as a separate frame. In this case click the Apply objects individually button inline:graphics67.png . Remember that each object will be centered in the animation.
Animated image in one step
For some simple animations it is possible to create all the animation frames in advance, and place them on the slide. This method works well for a rotating line, a shape gradually changing color, shapes increasing or decreasing size. In most of these occasions it is convenient to use the Edit > 'Duplicate' command.
When all the frames are already prepared, use the Apply objects individually inline:graphics68.png to create one frame for each of the objects.
It is easy to obtain for example a rotating segment:
    1. Draw a segment, say, horizontal and make it fairly thick (use Format > Line or the Line and Filling toolbar to do that).
    2. Open the Duplicate dialog by selecting Edit > Duplicate and set the number of copies to 5, the X and Y axis to 0.1, the angle to 30, the enlargement width and height to 0, and press the OK button.
    3. Select the 6 segments created by Impress and open the Animator (Insert > Animated image from the main menu bar).
    4. On the Animator dialog, click Apply objects individually.
    5. Select Bitmap object in the lower part of the dialog, then click the Create button.
Other functions of the Animator
You can review the animation at any time by clicking the Play button inline:graphics69.png as well as navigate the various frames using the other controls available.
If you are not satisfied with a particular frame, you can remove it. To do so:
    1. Navigate to the frame using the edit control with the spin buttons.
    2. Click the Delete current image button inline:graphics70.png .
You can also delete the whole animation by clicking the Delete all images button inline:graphics71.png .
Tip If you want to work on the animation frames a bit more, you can copy them into the Impress work area by selecting Group object and then clicking Create.
Tip Since all the objects are centered in the animation window, to animate an object off the center of the image, create a blank rectangle of the same size of the final image and select it along with the object to be animated. Make sure that Group object is selected before clicking the Apply object button.

'Using Fontwork'Using Fontwork

Use Fontwork to obtain special text effects. For more about this topic, see Chapter 15 (Using Fontwork) in the Getting Started guide.
To start using Fontwork:
    1. Open the Fontwork Gallery by clicking the inline:graphics48.png icon on the Drawing toolbar (see Figure 5) or on the Fontwork toolbar (see Figure 19). If the Drawing toolbar is not showing, you can go directly to the Fontwork toolbar by selecting View > Toolbars > Fontwork from the main menu bar.
    2. Select from the Fontwork Gallery (Figure 17) the preferred style and click OK. You can modify it later, so pick one providing an effect similar to the desired one. The text Fontwork in the selected style appears on the slide (Figure 18).
    1. Double-click the object to edit the Fontwork text. Type your own text in place of the black Fontwork that appears over the object (Figure 18).
    2. Press the Esc key or click outside the area with the blue resizing handles to exit.
Now that the Fontwork object is created, you can edit some of its attributes. To do this, you can use the Fontwork toolbar or other options as described in the next section.
Using the 'Fontwork toolbar'Fontwork toolbar
Make sure that the Fontwork toolbar, shown in Figure 19, is visible on the workspace. If not, select View > Toolbars > Fontwork from the main menu bar.
In addition to the Fontwork Gallery icon, this toolbar contains the following icons:
inline:graphics52.png Fontwork shape: to change the shape of the selected object, choose a shape from the extended toolbar (Figure 20).
inline:graphics54.png Fontwork Same Letter Heights: Changes the height of characters in the object. Toggles between normal height (some characters taller than others, for example capital letters, d, h, l and others) and all letters the same height. See Figure 21.
inline:graphics56.png Fontwork Alignment: specify the alignment of the text within the frame from the choices available in Figure 22. The effects of the text alignment can only be appreciated if the text spans over two or more lines. In the Stretch Justify mode all the lines are filled completely.
inline:graphics58.png Fontwork Character Spacing: select the desired spacing (Figure 23) and whether kerning pairs should be used. For custom spacing, input a percentage value: 100% is normal spacing; less than 100% is tight spacing; more than 100% is expanded spacing.
Modifying Fontwork text as a shape
It is possible to treat Fontwork text as a shape and therefore to apply to it all the formatting that has been described in this chapter. Assign line properties only to Fontwork which does not have a 3D effect, otherwise the changes will not be visible.
Tip Change the Fontwork color quickly using the Area fill color swatch on the Line and Filling toolbar.
In the same way as it is possible to modify the angles of Trapezoids and Parallelogram basic shape by moving the yellow dot that is displayed along with the blue resizing handles, it is possible to modify some of the Fontwork shapes.

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