Learn Artboard

Simple. Powerful. Fun.

To draw with Artboard, choose a drawing tool, choose a style from the Styles & Clip Art palette or create your own, and draw. In the following videos, explore everything from how to set up your drawing to using expert “stacked” styles.

What is Artboard?

PlayArtboard is vector-based drawing software that is simple to use to get you going fast, yet powerful enough to meet your everyday drawing needs. Unlike raster-based paint programs, vector drawings are composed of editable stacked objects and are infinitely scalable. Learn more about vector drawing.

User Interface

Artboard provides a classic “Mac” user interface consisting of a drawing canvas, toolbar, and layer list. more…»

Drawing Setup

Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Drawing size & units
  • Optional background color
  • Graph Paper settings
  • Guide lines
  • Snap-to Grid and Guides

When you first open Artboard, you’ll see a new blank document. Open the Template browser to select a template, or open the Drawing Setup dialog to set your dimensions, drawing units, and more. Read along…»

Drawing Objects

Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Simple direct controls
  • Special shapes
  • Numeric input
  • Bezier paths
  • Text and text on path
  • Combining shapes

Use over 20 simple and direct drawing tools, including special shapes, flowing paths, and beautifully rendered text. All shapes and paths have simple, direct controls to move points, curve handles, resize, rotate, change corner radius, and more – all with a single Select tool! Read along…»


Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Drawing on discrete layers
  • Managing layers and objects
  • Graph paper
  • Guides

Artboard uses layers to keep your drawing organized. Think of Artboard’s layers like a stack of tracing paper (or transparent mylar). Just like drawing on paper, each layer can hold multiple graphics in your drawing. Read along…»

Clip Art

Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Styles & Clip Art palette
  • Grouped objects
  • Library Manager

Clip art are organized into Collections and Categories. Each category can contain either clip art or styles, or both. The Styles & Clip Art palette toolbar drop-down menu lets you view the collections by category. To add clip art to your drawing, use the Clip Art Stamp tool with clip art, or drag clip art directly from the palette on to your drawing canvas. Read along…»

Drawing With Style

Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Format Bar
  • Styles & Clip Art palette
  • Style Dropper tool
  • Style quick “pick-up”

The Format Bar provides quick access to simple fill and stroke style editing. To change an object’s stroke or fill color, click onto the color-well to reveal a drop-down grid of colors, or quick-click the color-well to open the Colors panel. Read along…»

Expert “Stacked” Styles

Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Style Inspector
  • Stacked Styles
  • Style Components
  • Saving Styles

Artboard stands apart with powerful “stacked styles” that go way beyond simple fill and stroke, providing a wide range of spectacular effects. Open the Style Inspector and have fun experimenting with expert styles. Read along…»

Power Features

Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Cascading “Shared” Styles
  • Breaking the style link among objects

Artboard is packed with power. Advanced users can take advantage of Artboard’s cascading “shared” styles that cascade across objects. Create three objects in a row, and they will share the same style; adjust the style and it will automatically cascade across all three. Read along…»

Add Images & Import Files

Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Image Browser
  • Picture Taker
  • Importing and opening SVG files

To import images into your drawing, drag images or SVG vector files from the Image Browser directly to your drawing canvas. Artboard imports PNG, JPG, non-editable PDF, and TIFF images as well as vector SVG files. Read along…»

Image Editing

Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Simple Mask & Crop
  • Mask & Crop with complex shapes
  • Effects

To mask and crop an image, double-click it with the Select [s] tool to make the image active for editing. Grab the image bounding box corners and adjust its bounding box. Read along…»

Save, Print & Export

Click to Play Video Topics Covered:

  • Auto-save and Save As
  • Page and poster-tiled printing
  • Export entire drawing
  • Limit export to selected objects

Artboard is optimized for Mac OS 10.8 “Mountain Lion”, including full screen, resume, autosaving and versions (these features require at least OS 10.7+ “Lion”). Auto-save will periodically save your work for you. Read along…»


Looking for more? Peruse the User Guide. Have questions? Contact Us. Join the discussion in our User Forum.

Recent Vector Tutorials

  • Create Scrapbook Styles for Fun Spring-time Graphics A scrapbook style is characterized by a wide outline around your graphic in the color of paper – as if the graphic were cut out by scissors. The key to this style is adding a wide stroke to show underneath the shape's silhouette. Artboard's advanced Style...
  • Create Letterpress Vector Style Use the Style Inspector along with Artboard's new transform settings to create a popular letterpress vector style treatment. It's super easy to apply the style to type and other shapes. Final Image Below is the final type treatment we will be working to...
  • How to Make Fun Festive Bubbles These festive bubbles are super fun and really easy to create. Overlapping objects with semi-transparent fill styles make great backgrounds for text and stand-out graphics. For users who want to advance their skills, this tutorial is packed with tips for ...

View more Vector Tutorials…

Functions are accessed through the main menu located along the top of the screen. In the main window, the toolbar provides quick access to commonly used palettes and functions. The Toolbar can be customized and function icons added or removed by right-clicking and choose “Customize” from the contextual menu. The layers list shows three default layers (Drawing Layer, Guides and Graph Paper) when opening a new empty drawing file. Additional layers can be added by the user.

Tools are used in combination with the Format Bar, Styles Inspector, and Styles & Clip Art palette. The Styles & Clip Art palette contains over 1700 editable clip art and styles organized into Collections and Categories.

Artboard includes a selection of pre-designed templates to create fliers, invitations, signs, and business cards. Choose a template, or click New Blank Document… to setup a new drawing. You can also access this dialog by choosing File > Drawing Size & Units… from the main menu.

To set your canvas size and drawing units, choose the units from the drop-down menu (millimeters, centimeters, inches, points). Accept the default canvas size, or enter your own width and height. Optionally, add a background color or texture. Your personal settings can be saved as the default setup for new documents.

Graph Paper settings, including grid line spacing and color scheme, can also be adjusted. As desired, adjust the grid spacing and color scheme, and make the graph paper layer visible. To make your objects snap to the graph paper as you draw, choose Graphic > Snap To… > Graph Paper from the main menu. You can also change your Preferences to snap to Graph Paper whenever it is visible.

You can add guide lines to your drawing by dragging them to and from the Rulers. Guide lines are placed on their own layer, which can be shown, hidden, and adjusted; after adding guides, click back onto one of your drawing layers and continue drawing. To make your objects snap to the guides as you draw, choose Graphic > Snap To… > Guides from the main menu.

In the next video, we’ll learn how to use Artboard’s simple and direct drawing tools.

Choose a drawing tool, choose a style from the Styles & Clip Art palette or create your own, and draw. We’ll learn more about working with styles in the upcoming sections.

Hold the SHIFT-key to maintain the aspect ratio while drawing and resizing shapes. Hold the CMND-key to draw shapes out from center (modifier keys can be used in combination). Use the Select [s] tool to move the rotation knob to rotate. You can hold the SHIFT-key to constrain angles while rotating. Double-click any shape to convert it to its path (and vice-versa) for “quick edit mode.” While editing paths, you have full control to add, move, rotate, and nudge path points and handles. Use the Add Point and Remove Point tools as desired.

Artboard’s special shapes include Round Rectangles, Arcs, Wedges, and Regular Polygons. Use the Select [s] tool to make direct adjustments to these special shapes, such as corner radius, arc angle, tips, valleys, radius, diameter, and more.

Get precise control for object width, height (or length), and position using Artboard’s Geometry panel. Additional settings are available for all Artboard special objects, and opacity is supported for image shapes.  Use the Toolbar to access commonly used functions.

Bezier Paths [b] are among the most powerful drawing tools, but may be least familiar to some users. If you need some practice, you can find hands-on exercises in Artboard’s Templates (File > Templates > New From Template…). To draw a curved path, click-hold-drag the curve handle away .. click once to add a corner point, use the Delete-key to remove the last-placed point, double-click or use the Esc-key to end your path. Use the Select [s] tool to edit a path. You can hold the CMND-key to drag a handle away from its point and to move curve handles independently; Hold the SHIFT-key to constrain the angle of the curve handle while you draw, and hold the Option-key to adjust curve handles synchronously. Right-click the object to access its context menu for more options.

Add beautifully rendered text with the Text Box [t] tool. Drag the text box object handles to resize text boxes. Use Text On Path tool for elegantly curved text paths. Double-click text with the Select [s] tool to edit. The Fonts panel offers font selection and custom effects, including outline, shadow, and mask. Align, kern, change case and baseline are available options. Font effects and options can be applied to blocks of text, individual words, and and even individual glyphs! For full creative control, including applying styles and distortion, you can convert text to shapes, shape groups, and paths.

The Artboard toolbar provides quick access to align objects and change their drawing order. Select the objects and click the available icon. To customize your toolbar, right-click it and choose “Customize…” from the contextual menu.

Quickly create interesting and complex objects by combining two or more shapes using Artboard’s advanced Boolean operators. When you have two or more objects selected, the Union, Intersect, Difference, and Append commands are available in the toolbar.

In the next video, we’ll learn more about Artboard’s layers to help keep your drawing organized.

Layers are discrete like paper – multiple objects are not selectable across different layers. Add new layers and layer groups as desired. Click a layer name to make it active and work with objects on that layer. For example, you can place an image on one layer, then use another layer on top to draw features. Move objects among layers using the Layer menu commands.

Artboard’s automatic Graph Paper features standard cartesian and isometric grids based on your customizable grid settings. To change the grid settings, choose File > Graph Paper Settings… from the main menu, or right-click the Graph Paper layer. To keep objects and text aligned to the graph paper grid, choose Graphic > Snap To Grid from the main menu. If you’d like Snap To Grid to always be the setting when the Graph Paper is visible, you can set that preference in the Artboard > Preferences menu.

Layout is a key element to good design. Guides are used extensively during layout to keep objects properly aligned. Guides are placed on a Guide layer.

With the Rulers visible (View > Show Rulers & Format Bar from the main menu), drag from a ruler onto your drawing canvas. A guide will be placed. Constrain guides to the Graph Paper divisions by holding the SHIFT key while moving a guide. Multiple guides can be placed, and the layer can be made visible or hidden from the layers list. Guides are not printed. To keep objects and text aligned to the guides, choose Graphic > Snap To Guides from the main menu. Drag a guide off the canvas area onto a ruler to delete it. When you’re finished, click back onto a drawing layer to make it active and continue drawing.

In the next video, we’ll see how easy it is to use Artboard’s clip art collection.

Clip art can be moved, resized, rotated, and completely edited. Note, clip art may need ungrouped in order to be edited. All clip art except country flags are fully editable.

Any art work that you create can be saved as clip art to your User Library. As needed, make sure objects are grouped before saving as clip art. Choose Edit > Add Clip Art To Library from the main menu. Use the Library Manager to keep clip art organized. Here you can add new collections, organize styles and clip art into categories, and more. Artboard delivers with over 1700 built-in styles and fully editable styles and clip art. Built-in styles and clip art are locked to prevent changes to the originals, but can be used as-is, cloned, copied, and made your own.

In the next video, we’ll learn how to draw with style.

Click “Reset” to reset the style to the default black stroke and grey fill.

Please note that advanced “expert” styles, such as patterned and gradient fills, are created and edited using Artboard’s powerful Style Inspector.

To draw using the built-in styles, open the Styles & Clip Art palette:

  • Choose a drawing tool, choose a style from the palette, and begin drawing
  • To apply a different style to an existing object, select the object(s) in your drawing and double-click a style from the palette
  • Alternatively, drag styles directly from the palette onto shapes and paths
  • Use the toolbar drop-down menu to view the collections by category; each category can contain either clip art or styles, or both

Use the Style Dropper tool to pick-up and drop styles from one object onto another. For “quick pick-up” of styles that are already in use, hold the CMND-key while drawing and click on an existing object to pick-up its style and keep drawing.

In the next video, we’ll have some fun building expert “stacked” styles using Artboard’s Style Inspector.

Click “Reset” to create a new style based on the default, or “Clone” to create a new style based on the one currently in use. Create awesome style combinations, such as multi-stroked paths; tapered, rough, and arrowed paths; gradients, patterns, and hatched fills; filter effects groups; and more. Click the “+” button to add new components from the drop-down list. Drag-and-drop to re-order style components. Right-click to copy and paste components. Click “New” to reset the style to the default.

As desired, you can name, add an optional description, and save your styles to “My Library” for later use.

In the next video, we take a quick look at how power-users can use cascading “shared” styles for lightning-fast changes.

So, if you edit a shared style the changes are applied across all objects where the style has been used. In this way, changes to styles across multiple objects can be made very quickly and efficiently.

You can break the style link between successive objects by clicking “Reset” to reset to the default style, or “Clone” to create a new style based on the one currently in use.

To enable shared styles, go to Artboard > Preferences… Edit tab and click the check box to “Enable shared styles.” Optionally, check “Styles are sharable by default” to have new styles that you create automatically have the shared setting active.

In the next video, we’ll learn how Artboard opens and imports files.

You can also choose File > Take Picture… to add a picture from your FaceTime camera. If an image is larger than the Artboard canvas size, it will be scaled to fit the canvas (though can be rescaled in the Geometry panel). You can even drop pictures directly onto Artboard shapes to fill the shape with the image. The Image Browser provides quick access to your iPhoto, Pictures folder, and Smart folders, and you can attach other folders as desired.

In addition to its native Artboard file format, Artboard also opens editable vector SVG 1.1 files. SVG files are converted into Artboard files upon opening and can be saved as such. Note, some SVG files that include filter extensions may not open properly.

In the next video, we’ll check out Artboard’s sweet image editing capabilities.

Move the slider to scale your image. As needed, click and drag the image to reposition it inside its bounding box.

To adjust an image’s properties, such as exposure and saturation, double-click it with the Select [s] tool to make the image active for editing. Adjust the image properties in the image editing dialog, or choose from a variety of image preset effects.

You can also mask and clip images with complex shapes using the traditional “Intersect” Boolean operator. HERE’S HOW…

In the next video, learn all about how to save, print, and export your drawings.

Choose File > Save a Version to manually save your file. Choose File > Duplicate to create a new file that is a copy of the current file. You can also save any document as a template file for later use. Choose File > Save Copy As Template… Note, if you prefer not to use Autosave and Versions you can disable it under Artboard > Preferences > Options.

Artboard’s flexible layout offers single page and “poster-tiled” printing. Choose File > Print to open the print dialog. Click Show Details to reveal the print options, including “Fit to Single Page,” “Graph Paper,” and “Crop Marks.” Your drawing canvas can be larger than your actual printer paper size – if it is larger you can either “poster-tile” print your drawing over multiple sheets (default), or “Fit to Single Page” when printing. To make sure your printer is set with the proper paper size and page orientation, choose File > Page Setup… before printing.

[[If you need to setup your drawing to print to a specific paper size, enter the paper dimensions and check “subtract paper margins.” This will fit the drawing canvas within the printable area of your paper. Before printing, make sure the printer “Page Setup…” has your paper size and page orientation. Note, your drawing canvas can be larger than your actual printer paper size – if it is larger you can either “poster-tile” print your drawing over multiple sheets, or “shrink-to-fit” when printing.]]

Choose File > Export… to export for web and print using the most popular raster formats – PNG, JPG and TIFF resolutions from 72 to 600-dpi; and editable vector PDF files (the native AI file format). TIF, PNG, and PDF support alpha-transparent backgrounds. Export your entire drawing or just your selected objects. Additionally, Artboard supports copy and paste or drag-and-drop graphics between popular productivity applications, such as iWork™ Pages and Keynote.

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