Changing Object Attributes

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This is Chapter 4 of the 3 Draw Guide, produced by the OOoAuthors group. A PDF of this chapter is available from this wiki page.

Toolbars and menus

To change an object’s attributes (such as color, border width, among others) you can use the Line and Filling toolbar or the context menu.

Line and Filling toolbar

If the Line and Filling toolbar is not visible, you can display it using View > Toolbars > Line and Filling. From here you can edit the most common object attributes. You can also open the Line dialog by clicking on the Line LineIcon.png icon and the Area dialog by clicking on the Area AreaIcon.png icon to see more options.

1 Styles and Formatting

2 Line

3 Arrow Style

4 Line Style

5 Line Width

6 Line Color

7 Area

8-9 Area Style / Filling

10 Shadow

Line and Filling toolbar

Text Formatting toolbar

When you select text, the Line and Filling toolbar changes to show text formatting options. You can also display the Text Formatting toolbar by choosing View > Toolbars > Text Formatting.

Text Formatting toolbar (when text is selected)

The context menu

When an object is selected, you can right-click on the object to bring up a context menu. The context menu provides additional access to the options shown above and another way to change an object's attributes. The entries with a small arrow on the right-hand side contain a submenu.

Right-click on an object to see the context menu

Editing lines and borders

Lines, arrows, and the borders of an object are managed through the same dialog.

Lines and borders

You can change some properties from the Line and Filling toolbar. To see more options, select the object and right-click on the object and choose Line from the context menu. This opens the Line dialog.

Line dialog (right-click on an object and choose Line).

Common line properties

In most cases the property you want to change is the line's style (solid, dashed, invisible, and so on), its color, or its width. These options are all available from the Line and Filling toolbar.

Common line options (style, width, color)

You can also edit these properties from the Line dialog shown in the previous paragraph. They are on the first tab, left column. From the Line dialog you can also change the line's transparency. The figure below illustrates different degrees of transparency.

The vertical lines have different levels of transparency (0%, 25%, and 50%).

Drawing arrows

Arrowheads (and other line endings — usually referred to in this guide collectively as arrows) are a line property. Select a line and click on the Arrow Style ArrowStyleIcon.png icon. This opens the Arrowheads menu.


There are several types of arrowheads available. Each end of the line can have a different arrowhead (or no arrowhead).

Documentation note.png Arrowheads are only applicable to lines. They have no effect on an object's border.

In the Line dialog, Arrow styles on the right-hand side contains a number of options to fine tune the arrow properties. If Synchronize ends is selected, both line endings will have the same appearance. The Center option brings the middle of the arrow over the end point of the line. If this option is not selected, the line ends on the outermost edge of the arrow. It is much easier to understand if you look at the following sketch.

Default arrowheads (left) vs centered arrowheads (right)

Customizing line and arrow styles

You are not constrained to using only the line and arrow styles provided by default in Draw. You can modify the styles and create your own.

Customizing line styles

In the Line dialog, click on the Line Styles tab. From here you can customize the line styles or create your own (click on the Add button to create your own). You can change the length of the dashes, the space between them, and other attributes.

Editing line styles

Use the Load Line Style LoadLineStyleIcon.pngand Save Line Style SaveLineStyleIcon.png icons to save a new definition or read one from disk (file extension .sod).

Customizing arrow styles

You can also create your own arrowheads to create some interesting effects, such as:
The first step is to draw a curve with the shape you want for the arrowhead.
Documentation note.png The arrowhead must be a curve. A curve is something you could draw without lifting a pencil. For example, Star.png is a curve but Smiley.png is not a curve. You can however draw forms which are not curves and then at the end convert them to a curve.
Tip.png The part of the shape which should point in the direction of the line must be drawn facing upwards. The top of the shape will point towards the "outside" of the line.

Select the curve, open the Line dialog, and go to the Arrow Styles page. Click on Add, enter a name for the arrow style and click OK.

Adding an arrow style

Now you can access the new style from the Arrow style list below or the Arrowheads menu.

Arrow style list

Editing the inside (fill) of an object

The term for the inside of an object is Area fill. The area fill of an object can be a uniform color, a gradient, a hatching pattern, or an image. It can be made partly or wholly transparent and can throw a shadow.

Different types of area fill

Common fill properties

In most cases, you will choose one of the standard fill options, whether it is a color, a gradient or an image. These options are all available from the Line and Filling toolbar.

If you want no fill at all, select the object you wish to edit and on the Line and Filling toolbar select the option Invisible on the pull down list at the right of the paint can.

Common fill options

Fill with a uniform color

Select the object you wish to edit. On the Line and Filling toolbar, select Color on the pull down list at the right of the paint can, and then choose a color from the right-hand menu.

Filling with a color

Fill with a gradient

Select the object you wish to edit. On the Line and Filling toolbar, select Gradient and then choose a gradient from the right-hand menu.

Filling with a gradient

Fill with a line pattern

The OOo term for line patterns is Hatching. Select the object you wish to edit. On the Line and Filling toolbar, select Hatching and then choose an option from the menu.

Filling with a line pattern

Fill with an image

You can fill an object with a bitmap image (as opposed to a vector graphic image). Select the object you wish to edit. On the Line and Filling toolbar, select Bitmap and then choose an option from the menu.

Filling with an image

Adding a shadow

In Draw, shadows are considered an area property. Click on the Filling FillingIcon.png icon on the Line and Filling toolbar — next to the area fill functions.

Adding a shadow

Advanced area fill options

Click on the Area icon AreaIcon.png to bring up the Area dialog. From this dialog, you can fine tune the area fill of an object in greater detail.

Creating your own fill color

Click on the Colors tab of the Area dialog. From here you can modify existing colors or create your own.

Customizing the color palette

Depending on the color model (RGB or CMYK can be selected from the pull down menu) in use you can change the individual values of the constituent colors — Red, Green, and Blue or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Click on Add to add this color to the color table. Clicking on the Modify button will change the values of the current color (here it is Blue 8, shown in the upper rectangle) to those on the screen in the lower rectangle. The Edit button allows you to fine tune the color using a palette with visual feedback.

Further explanation about color palettes can be found in Tips and Tricks.

Creating your own gradient

On the Area dialog, click on the Gradients tab. From here you can modify existing gradients or create your own.

Customizing gradients

A gradient works by creating a smooth transition from one color to another. First, you need to choose two colors.

Choosing colors for a gradient

Then choose a type of gradient. There are several available (Linear, Axial, Radial, and so on) and each has up to four different options to specify it in detail. For example, a radial gradient has a center you can specify.

Center option in a radial gradient

The figure below shows how an ellipsoid gradient is rotated, moved vertically and horizontally, and the color of the border area varied.

Center, Angle, and Border options for a gradient

Creating your own hatching (line pattern)

On the Area dialog, click on the Hatching tab. From here you can modify existing hatchings (line patterns) or create your own.

You can customize options like the spacing between lines, the angle and the color of the lines. There is no way to edit the line thickness.

Modifying hatchings

Creating your own bitmap fill

You can add your own bitmap images to fill an area. First, you need to create the bitmap image. This could be a photo or another sketch you have created in another program. For example, you can draw something with Draw and export it as a PNG format image file.

To export a PNG image file: Create the image, select it, then choose File > Export, choose PNG from the pulldown list of file formats, give the file a name, and save it.

To use an image as a bitmap fill, open the Area dialog and click on the Bitmaps tab.

Adding your own bitmap images

From there you can add new bitmap images to serve as area fills. Click on Import and choose a file you previously saved. Give it a name that will make it easy to remember. The last imported image will appear at the bottom of the pulldown list of bitmap fills. Now you can use that image as an area fill.

Adding your own bitmap images

Tip.png If the imported image seems to be very small in the preview, probably you forgot to select the image before you exported it. The exported image was then the whole page with a (small) drawing on it.

Customizing shadows

First, select the object you want to apply a custom shadow to. Open the Area dialog and go to the Shadow tab. There you can customize the shadow's position, distance and color.

Customizing shadows

Shadows can also have transparency, so the shadow does not hide objects behind it.

Shadow with 50% transparency

Adding transparency

You can make objects partly or fully transparent, or even a with a varying degree of transparency (as a gradient). On the Transparency page, choose Transparency (for a uniform transparency) or Gradient for a gradient transparency.

Transparency page of Area dialog

An example of gradient transparency is shown below. See also Dynamic gradients.

Example of gradient transparency

Using styles

Suppose that you want to apply the same area fill, line thickness, and border to a set of objects. This repetitive process can be greatly simplified by the use of styles. Styles allow you to define a formatting template (a style) and then to apply that style to multiple objects. For more about styles, see Introduction to Styles in the Writer Guide.

Click on the Styles and Formatting StylesFormattingIcon.png icon on the Line and Filling toolbar or press the F11 key to open the Styles and Formatting window. This window can be docked to the left or right side of the main Draw window, if you wish.

Styles and Formatting window

Creating a new style

Select an object and customize the area fill and border. When you are satisfied, click on the New Style from Selection NewStyleSelectionIcon.png icon on the Styles and Formatting window. This defines a new style based on the selected object. Type a name for the new style and click OK.

Applying a style

Once the new style is defined, you can apply it to other objects. Select another object and double-click on the style name you defined. The new object will acquire the area fill and line properties of that style.

Tip.png Question: What happens if I modify a style after it has been applied?

Answer: Then every object with that style is updated automatically!

Modifying a style

Modifying a style is similar to creating a new style. Select an object with that style and change the area and line properties. When satisfied, click on the Update Style icon UpdateStyleIcon.png.

Special effects

First make sure that the Drawing toolbar is selected (View > Toolbars > Drawing). On the Drawing toolbar, locate the Effects icon EffectsIcon.png. Click on the arrow next to that icon. This opens a submenu with all the special effect tools.

Mode tear-off submenu
1 Rotate

2 Flip

3 In 3D Rotation Object

4 Set in Circle (perspective)

5 Set to Circle (slant)

6 Distort

7 Transparency

8 Gradient

The tools are described in the following sections with the exception of the 3D rotation tool, which is described in Working with 3D Objects.

Rotating an object

Click on the Effects EffectsIcon.png icon to select the Rotate tool. Then select an object. The selected object will have red handles instead of the usual green handles.

RotateEx1.png Grab one of the handles and move it to rotate the object. The black circle in the middle of the object is the pivot (center of rotation). You can move the location of the pivot with the mouse. RotateEx2.png

Flip an object

Select an object and click on the Flip icon FlipIcon.png. You will see a dashed line through the middle of the object.
This dashed line is the axis of symmetry. The object will be reflected about this line. Move one or both ends of the line with your mouse to set the orientation of the axis.
Then, grab any one of the eight green handles and move it across to the other side of the dashed line. The new position of the figure is shown faintly until the mouse is released.
Documentation note.png If you press the Shift key while moving the line, the line will rotate in 45-degree increments.

Mirror copies

Officially, this useful command does not (yet) exist in Draw. It can, however, be easily emulated.

Move the axis of symmetry to the desired location of the mirror axis. Copy the object to the clipboard. Flip the object, then click on an empty area of the Draw screen in order to deselect the object. Paste from the clipboard to put a copy of the object in its original location and now you have a mirror copy.

Making a mirror copy of an object

Distorting an image

There are three tools on the Effects menu that let you drag the corners and edges of an object to distort the image.

The Distort tool distorts an object in perspective, the Set to Circle (slant) and Set in Circle (perspective) tools both create a pseudo three-dimensional effect.

The results of using these tools are shown in the following figures.

Distort an object

Select an object and click on the Distort icon DistortIcon.png. Draw will ask if you want to transform the object to a curve. This is a necessary step before distortion, so click Yes. Then you can move the object handles to stretch it.

The corner handles distort, as shown below. The midpoint handles distort the figure either horizontally (handle on vertical side of figure) or vertically (handle on horizontal side of figure).

Distorting an image

Set in circle (perspective)

Select an object and click on the Set in Circle (perspective) SetCirclePerspective.png icon. Draw will ask if you want to transform the object to a curve. This is a necessary step before distortion, so click Yes. Then you can move the object handles to give a pseudo three-dimensional perspective).

Set an image in a circle with perspective

Set to circle (slant)

Select an object and click on the Set to Circle (slant) SetCircleSlant.png icon. Draw will ask if you want to transform the object to a curve. This is a necessary step before distortion, so click Yes. Then you can move the object handles to give a pseudo three-dimensional slant perspective.

Setting an image to a circle with slant perspective

Documentation note.png Transforming an object into a curve is a safe operation, but it cannot be reversed other than by clicking the Undo button.

Dynamic gradients

You can control transparency gradients in the same manner as color gradients. Both types of gradient can be used together. With a transparency gradient, the direction and degree of an object's fill color changes from opaque to transparent (in a regular gradient, the fill changes from one color to another, but the degree of transparency remains the same).

If you have assigned transparency to an object with a color fill, you can control the transparency by clicking on the Transparency icon TransparencyIcon.png. To define a transparent gradient, select an object, choose a transparency fill from the Line and Filling toolbar, The transparency icon is now active. When you click on this icon, a dashed line connecting two squares appears on the object. Move the two squares to modify the gradient. You can define the direction of the gradient (vertical, horizontal, or at any angle) and the spot at which the transparency begins.

In the same manner, to define a regular gradient, select an object, choose a gradient fill from the Line and Filling toolbar. The Gradient icon GradientIcon.png is now active. When you click on the gradient icon, a dashed line connecting two squares appears on the object, just as it does for a transparency gradient.

In both cases a dashed line connecting two small squares appears on top of the object. Click outside the object to set the gradient.

Documentation note.png If the transparency and gradient icons are not visible, you can display them using View > Toolbars > Mode.

Moving the squares will have different effects, depending on the type of gradient. For example, for a linear gradient, the start and end squares of the gradient will always be situated to either side of the center point of the object.

The three examples below demonstrate how the type and degree of transparency can be controlled.

A single color object and a transparency gradient, covering part of the underlying object. The gradient can be dynamically adjusted, made more transparent by moving the white square or more opaque by moving the black square.
An object with a color gradient, completely covering another object. The gradient is adjusted dynamically by moving the squares — the color of the square relating to the increase or decrease in that color.
An object with both color and transparency gradients, partly covering the underlying object. Dynamic gradients
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