updated on 13 January 2019 | reading time: 4 minutes

Organizing your designs

Symbols

A special type of group that can be easily “cloned”. Changes to the original can affect all the clones, or you can make custom changes to an individual clone.

Symbols can help you in maintain consistent design and make design changes at scale.

Every Symbol is made of “master” which is the original symbol and “instances” which are the clones.

To make a new symbol: select one or more objects and go to Modify > Symbol > Create Symbol, alternatively, you can use Create symbol command in the context menu or in the main toolbar . The dialog will appear allowing you to name your symbol. Type a name and press OK. The selection is now converted to a Master symbol.

Symbols can be created in the Symbol panel using the  icon at the top.

By default, the symbol master will show a label with his name on the canvas. You can change this under the View  > Canvas > Show Symbol Labels or inside the snap dropdown in the toolbar

Symbols show a purple bounding box on the canvas and show as purple text and icons in the layer menu.

Every copy of the symbol will become its “instance”. The instance will inherit all the properties of the original master symbol and will be updated instantly if the master is changed.

Overrides

The real power of symbols lies in the ability of instances to have a set of different properties and selectively get updates from the Master symbol.

Once a property of a symbol instance is changed it loses the link to the master, but all other properties are synced as normal. That way you have great flexibility to make variations of the symbol without losing connection to the master. In the following example, the text content and the background of the button symbol are changed in instances, but all other properties are still connected and synced.

You can at all times reset all overrides and set the symbol instance in its original state.

To reset instance use Context menu > Reset Instance or Menu > Modify > Symbol > Reset Instance. Alternatively, you can hover over the instance name in the Layers panel and click on reset icon .

Symbols panel

Symbols panel is the last tab in the left sidebar. Here you can manage all your symbols.

To find the master symbol on canvas click on its thumbnail in the panel. Gravit will fit the symbol in the viewport.

Double-click on a symbol thumbnail will select the symbol master and all its instances.
Note: this will still zoom to the master symbol only, the same as a single click.

To make new symbol select objects on the canvas and press “plus” button.

Drag the thumbnail in the viewport to place an instance of the symbol somewhere on canvas.

To delete symbol first select its thumbnail (it will become highlighted in panel) and press “trash bin” button.

Warning: Once you delete the symbol it will delete all of its instances of that symbol inside the whole document.

Instance properties in Inspector

Finding the master

With any instance selected, use the Instance drop-down in the Inspector panel to select (master). You will be zoomed into the master symbol, even if it is on another page.

Detach

Detaching symbol instance will break the link of that particular instance with its master and convert it to a regular group.

To detach the instance:

Select an instance and choose (Detaching symbol instance) from the Instance drop-down in the inspector panel.

Swap symbol

Here in the Instance drop-down, you can also swap one symbol instance with another symbol instance. The new symbol instance will be placed at the same coordinates as the original instance,

 

Tip: Make a habit to use a blank page to collect your master symbols and use only instances inside your actual designs. That way you can’t change the master unintentionally and all your repeating elements can be found in one place for further development

 

Transforming symbols

Rotation or movement of an entire master symbol will not affect the instances. Rotation or movement of elements within a master symbol will affect its instances. Scaling a symbol will scale its instances that are not already scaled.

Anchoring

All elements of the symbol can be anchored to the symbols bounding box. See more on the anchoring here

Deleting symbols

Deleting Master symbol will delete it from the canvas but the symbol will be still present in Symbols panel and can be inserted again.

While the Master symbol isn’t present on the canvas all of its instances will be temporally detached until (if) it is placed back on the canvas.