Moving, Grouping, and Converting Objects in Ortelius

Before you can move, modify or perform other operations on shapes, you must select them. A selected shape has handles that let you move and manipulate the shape. Use Artboard’s single direct select tool to select and move objects, and a variety of handy keyboard shortcuts and commands to modify them.

To Move, Resize and Rotate Objects:

  • REPOSITION – Move objects by selecting with the Select [s] tool and dragging, or use the Geometry panel to adjust the object’s x.y location.
  • RESIZE (SCALE) – Shapes by dragging any of the object handles with the Select [s] tool, or use the Geometry panel to adjust size.
  • ROTATE – Drag an object’s purple rotation handle with the Select [s] key to rotate around their center point, or use the Geometry panel to set the rotation angle.
  • REPOSITION AN OBJECT’S CENTER POINT – Drag the center blue crosshair target with the Select [s] tool to move the point of object rotation.

To Change the Stack Order of Objects – Moving Forward and Back:


Within each layer, objects have a stack order as they are drawn. Newer objects are drawn on top of existing objects. This is independent of layers, which control the display order of all objects among individual layers.

Do one of the following:

  • Use the Graphic > Bring To Front, Bring Forward, Send To Back, Send Backward commands from the main menu to change the stack order of objects.
  • Right-click on a graphic for quick access to the contextual menu stack order commands.
  • These functions are also available as toolbar icons via the Customize toolbar menu.

HINT: Occasionally, an object with a larger bounding box may be stacked “in front” of another object. Because of the overlap, the top object may either hide the lower object or make it difficult to select because the top object bounding box is in the way. Select the top object and use the Tab-key to cycle through a series of overlapping objects to select them.

To Group Objects:


Do one of the following:

  • Choose Graphic > Group from the main menu to group two or more objects.
  • Use the CMND-G keyboard shortcut.
  • Click the Group icon in the toolbar.

Note that when objects are grouped, they are moved to the top of the stack order. If a style is applied to a group, all objects within the group will receive the new style. Text within a group can be double-clicked for convenient editing without ungrouping.

HINT: When you place clip art onto your drawing canvas the clip art are composed of regular drawing objects, though they may need ungrouped to edit.

To Ungroup Objects:

Do one of the following:

  • Choose Graphic > Ungroup from the main menu.
  • Use the SHIFT-CMND-G keyboard shortcut.
  • Click the Ungroup icon in the toolbar.

To Convert Objects From Shape Mode to Edit Path Mode:


Do one of the following:

  • Double-click a path or shape to quickly switch between shape mode and edit path mode. For example, a path object can be converted to a shape object and vice-versa.
  • Choose Graphic > Convert To Path (or Shape) from the main menu.
  • Right-click and choose the ‘Convert To…’ command from the object’s contextual menu.

HINT: Special shapes, such as stars and round rectangles, will be converted into paths then back to normal shapes through this process (they cannot be converted back into special shapes).

HINT: Text objects are conveniently converted to Path, Shape, or Shape Group using the ‘convert to’ commands. Text-box text can also be converted to Text On Path. Converting text to a Shape Group enables several glyphs to be converted into a group of individual shapes. Ungroup the shape group to render each glyph as an individual shape which can be independently styled and manipulated.

Editing Artboard’s Extensive Clip Art Collection

Artboard delivers with hundreds of vector clip arts in a Library packed with shapes, graphics, and styles. In fact, all clip art except country flags are fully editable. Find out how to make the most of Artboard’s clip art library and make them your own.

Tutorial Details

Program : Artboard 1.1+ for Mac OSX
Difficulty: Beginner
Topics Covered: Clip Art
Estimated Completion Time: 10 minutes

ATTENTION: As of Artboard 1.7, “shared” styles are no longer part of the default workflow, therefore, references to “New” and “Clone” in this tutorial are no longer current. As of Artboard 1.7, the “New” button in the Format Bar and Style Inspector becomes the “Reset” button. See the Users Guide for more information about shared styles.

Step 1

Open the Styles & Clip Art palette. As desired, click the Library icon in the palette toolbar to navigate through the categories of clip arts and styles. Here we are choosing the “Christmas Tree” clip art in the “Holidays & Occasions” category. Click onto the clip art you want to use and place it with Clip Art Stamp [y] tool, or simply drag the clip art from the palette onto your drawing.

To resize any clip art graphic, use the Select [s] tool and drag one of the object handles. Hold the SHIFT-key to maintain the aspect ratio while you drag.

Step 2

Many clip arts in the Artboard library are actually complex graphics made up of multiple objects (some are simple graphics made from a single shape and won’t need ungrouped). With the clip art selected, you will see “Group” listed as the object type in the Geometry panel. Choose Graphic > Ungroup from the main menu. You can see after ungrouping that the star, tree, the tree’s shading, tree trunk, and ornaments are all separate objects.

Step 3

Here we’ve selected the main body of the tree and open the Style Inspector. Click “Clone” to make a copy of the existing style, then click the color-well to change the fill color to blue.

Next, select one of the ornaments. You can see that the ornament is also a group – some complex clip arts may be made from groups of groups! Select each ornament and choose Graphic > Ungroup from the main menu, or right-click and choose Ungroup from the contextual menu.

Step 4

We’ve selected the main circle shape in the ungrouped ornament. In the Style Inspector, click “Clone” and change the colors in the gradient. Click onto the first gradient slider color-well and choose a white color. Click onto the second gradient slider color-well and choose a blue color.

Next, use the Style Dropper [d] tool to pick-up the new gradient style and drop it onto the other ornaments.

Step 5

We’ve also selected the star and made it a bit smaller. Hold the SHIFT-key while dragging the star’s object handles to maintain its aspect ratio while re-sizing.

Optionally, create a new clip art of the graphic that you’ve changed. With the Select [s] tool, click and drag a box over all the graphics to select the objects. Choose Graphic > Group from the main menu to group them into one graphic.

Step 6

Choose Edit > Add Clip Art To Library to automatically create a clip art in the user’s Library.

Final Image

Congratulations! You’ve successfully added a clip art to your drawing, ungrouped and edited it. Now you know the basics to edit any clip art supplied with Artboard. Use your customized artwork with other graphics to finish your drawing. Here we’ve added a rectangle with a gradient in the background, added “Snowflakes” clip art scattered on top, and some text. Thanks for a great first year with Artboard!