Artboards and Canvases

Artboards and Canvases

A VectorStyler document contains multiple canvases, organized into a hierarchy of canvas types and roles. A canvas may contain multiple artboards, arranged at various positions and sizes.

Each canvas contains its own hierarchy of layers, with objects positioned over multiple artboards of the canvas. Different canvases of the same document contain different layer and object hierarchies. Artboards are only indicators of regions to be printed or exported. It is possible to create or remove artboards without modifying the layer and object hierarchy of a canvas.

Only one canvas is shown at a time. The current canvas can be selected from the Canvas & Artboard panel or from the Canvas menu. One canvas may be sufficient for a typical artwork, multiple canvases can be used to create variations of, or to store multiple designs in a single document.

Some examples of using multiple canvases in a single document are:

  • Create variations of the same artwork in a single document.
  • Organize large collection of icon designs with multiple artboards per canvas, and multiple canvases.
  • Create multi-page documents, with several artboards on a canvas organized as a spread, and multiple canvases repeating the spread layout.
  • Setup and use Master canvases to design common parts of multiple canvases.
  • Place object content for tiling patterns, artistic brushes, symbols on Reference canvases and automatically uses these as styles.

There are three predefined canvas types in a VectorStyler, each containing a hierarchy of canvases. A canvas may contain any kind of artwork, illustration or content, regardless of its type. These predefined canvas types are used only to facilitate a specific document structure.

  • The Reference canvases are used to design content for tiling pattern, artistic brush, pattern brush, scatter brush, symbols and other objects or styles that are used throughout the document. Reference canvases can be assigned roles (similar to object roles), to set implicit roles for objects in the canvas.
  • The Master canvases are used to create master copies used as common content in multiple other canvases.
  • The Artwork group of canvases contain the regular canvases used to create artworks and designs.
  • Each canvas type group may contain a hierarchy of canvases, to allow organizing a larger number of design elements and artwork.
  • It is possible to create additional canvas type groups, but they will all act as regular canvases.

The artboards and canvases of a document are accessed and manage through commands of the Canvas menu, or from the Canvas & Artboard panel.

Important features and options to consider when working with artboards and canvases:

  • It is possible to create artboard option styles, and use a common style for multiple artboards. Modifying a single style will update all artboards using that style.
  • There is a single layer hierarchy of a canvas, common to all artboards of that canvas. It is possible to create objects spanning multiple artboards.
  • Each canvas contains a separate layer hierarchy, with different content.
  • Artboards can be rotated. A rotated artboard is printed or exported by rotating its overlapping content on the opposite direction.
  • Artboards can be arranged in a grid inside a canvas, or positioned freely.
  • Multiple canvases may contain the same automatic artboard layout of several artboards.
  • Each artboard may contain an automatic slice, used when batch exporting slices.
  • Imported tiling pattern, artistic brush, pattern brush, scatter brush and symbol content (from AI files) are automatically placed on reference canvases for easy access and editing.
  • Use multiple regular canvases and artboards, to organize large collections icons or design elements.
  • Use reference canvases to define and reuse common design elements.

Working with Canvases

The canvases of the current document can be accessed and managed from the Canvas & Artboard panel, or using commands of the Canvas menu. The following commands are used when working with canvases:

  • Canvas Options - Opens the Canvas Options modal editor view, to edit the options of the current canvas.

  • Create Canvas - Creates one or more empty new canvases after the current canvas. The Canvases section contains the description of the options used when creating new canvases.

  • Create Canvas Category - Creates a new canvas category, shown as a root canvas group.

  • Duplicate Canvas - Creates a copy of the current canvas.

  • Canvas Role - Selects the current reference canvas role. This option is visible only when a reference canvas is active.

  • Delete Canvas - Deletes one or more canvases. The number of canvases to be deleted starting from the current canvas, is set in the view. It is also possible to delete all canvases of the current canvas group.

  • Delete Empty Canvases - Deletes empty canvases from the current canvas group.

  • Delete Canvas Category - Deletes a user defined canvas category. The predefined canvas categories cannot be removed.

  • Remove Canvas Guidelines - Deletes all guidelines on the current canvas.

  • Synchronize Canvas Styles - Synchronize symbol and style references in the current canvas using symbol and object names.

  • Show Canvas - Select the current root canvas:

    • Reference - Activates the reference canvas group, showing the last visited reference canvas.
    • Master - Activates the master canvas group, showing the last visited master canvas.
    • Artwork - Activates the regular canvas group, showing the last visited regular canvas.
  • Master Canvas - Contains various master canvas options:

    • Change Master Canvas - Opens a view to select the master canvas of the current canvas. By default, there is only one (empty) master canvas. Master canvases can be created and by creating new canvases in the Master canvas group.
    • Lock Master Canvas - Lock the objects and layers of the master canvas.
    • Show Master Artboards - Show or hide artboards of the master canvas.
    • Show Master Guides - Show or hide guidelines of the master canvas.
    • Show Master Objects - Show or hide objects and layers of the master canvas.
  • Go To - Navigate the canvas hierarchy:

    • Previous Canvas - Go to the previous canvas in the current category.
    • Next Canvas - Go to the next canvas in the current category.
    • Parent Canvas - Go to the parent canvas of the current canvas group.
    • Member Canvas - Go to the first member canvas of the current canvas.
    • Go to Master Canvas - Go to the master canvas of the current canvas.
    • Return to Canvas - Return to the previous canvas from the master canvas.

Working with Artboards

The artboards of the current canvas can be accessed and managed from the Canvas & Artboard panel, or using commands of the Canvas menu. The following commands are used when working with artboards:

  • Create Artboards - Creates one or more new artboards on the current canvas. The artboard options view is shown to set the new artboard options. Editing the artboard options is described in the Artboards section. When creating artboards, the options view will also contain an Artboard Count field, to set the number of new artboards to be created.
  • Delete Artboard - Deletes the current artboard.
  • Delete Canvas Artboards - Deletes all artboards of the current canvas.
  • Expand Artboards - Expands the automatically generated artboard layout of the canvas. By default, a canvas may contain a set of automatically generated artboards, positioned in a grid. This is more suitable for multi-page documents. These artboards can be expanded to avoid being modified in the canvas or document options change, or to be positional locally.
  • Artboard Options - Opens the artboard options editor view, to edit the current artboard options.
  • Detach Artboard Slice - Converts the artboard defined slice into a regular, selectable slice. Artboards can be associated with an export slice to enable batch exporting of artboard content. This slice can be converted into a regular slice and detached from the artboard.
  • Arrange Artboards - Arranges the artboards of the current Canvas into a grid.
  • Create Guidelines - Creates a grid of guidelines of the current artboard.

The artboard name is shown at the top of each artboard of the current canvas. To disable the display of the artboard name, use the Hide Artboard Label command from the view - Margins menu.

The Artboard Tool

The Artboard tool can be used to create, move, resize and rotate artboards of the current canvas. The Artboard tool can be accessed from the application toolbox (second from the bottom, in default configuration).

  • To select an artboard, click inside the artboard frame.
  • To select more artboards, hold Shift and click to add to the current selection.
  • The transform handles are shown around the selected artboards.
  • To move the selected artboards, click inside a selected artboard and start dragging with the mouse.
  • To resize the selected artboards, click and drag one of the eight handles at the corner and side centers.
  • To rotate the selected artboards, hover near the corner of the selection so that the cursor indicates rotation. Click and drag to rotate the artboards.
  • To create new artboards, click at an empty location of the canvas and start dragging.
  • To delete an artboard, select the artboard and press the Delete key.


Working with artboards and canvases is described in the following sections:

  • Artboards - Describes the how to use the Artboard Options view to edit the options of an artboard, and how to create and remove guidelines of an artboard.
  • Canvases - Describes the how to use the Canvas Options view to edit the options of a canvas, and how to create new canvases.
  • Canvas & Artboard Panel - Describes the how to use the Canvas & Artboard panel. The Canvas & Artboard panel provides an easy access to the hierarchy of canvases of the current document, and to the list of artboards of a canvas.