FrameMaker Tutorial:

Developed for Advanced Documentation Students
David A. McMurrey
Thomas A. Moore

See the FrameMaker resource page for additional study materials. Got a question about this tutorial? Post it in the FrameMaker FAQ

The following tutorial shows you how to use the drawing tools included with FrameMaker to create simple graphics. You will use different commands such as drawing, selecting, aligning, distributing, and grouping to create the sample illustration shown here. If you see any errors or think we should have included other tasks, let us know! These tutorials only get you started; if you have more in-depth needs, see the Adobe FrameMaker User Guide or Adobe FrameMaker Classroom in a Book. (This tutorial is provided for advanced documentation students on a free, as-is basis, without guarantee of accuracy.)

This tutorial is based on FrameMaker version 5.5 for Windows. You may see some minor differences if you are using a different version.

Note: For the sake of brevity, we use an abbreviated style for menu commands throughout this lesson. For example, "Choose File > New" means "Choose New from the File menu".

Opening a New FrameMaker Document

First, open a new blank FrameMaker document and display the tools palette:
  1. Start FrameMaker.

  2. Choose File > New.

  3. From the New dialog box, click Portrait. This creates a new blank document with the default FrameMaker properties.

  4. Click the Display the Tools Palette on the right side of the document window to display the tools palette. You will use the tools palette to select drawing tools and change the properties of drawing objects.

    The tools palette contains the following:

    The Tools Palette

    Use the selection tools to select existing text and drawing objects. Use the drawing tools to draw shapes such as lines, arcs, rectangles, circles, and polygons. Use the drawing properties to view and change a drawing object's properties.

  5. Choose File > Save As, name the file graphics, and click Save.

Drawing Basic Shapes

Next, draw some simple shapes:
  1. On the tools palette, click the rectangle tool ( rectangle tool).

  2. Click and drag in the document window to draw a rectangle. After you release the mouse button, the pointer changes back to an I-beam ( I-beam).
    Note: You use the same basic procedure to draw circles, arcs, lines, and freehand lines.
  3. Press Delete to delete the rectangle.

  4. Click the rectangle tool again.

  5. This time, hold down Shift while you drag to create the rectangle. This keeps the sides equal, allowing you to easily draw a perfect square.

  6. Choose Graphics > Object Properties.

  7. In the Object Properties dialog box, enter 2 for Width and also for Height and click Set. Use this feature to enter exact values for drawing objects.

  8. With the square still selected, choose Graphics > Set # Sides.

  9. In the Set Number of Sides dialog box, enter 8 for Number of Sides and click Set. You now have an octagon. If you want to rotate your octagon, hold down Alt and drag a handle.

About Selecting Objects

Before you can change a drawing object or its properties, you must first select it. When an object is selected, handles appear around it.

Selection hanndles

You can use these handles to resize or reshape a drawing object.

Aligning Objects

Align two objects relative to each other as follows:
  1. Draw a square.

  2. Click on the circle tool.

  3. Click and Shift-drag to draw a perfect circle. Try to make it slightly smaller than the square.

  4. With the circle still selected, hold down Shift and click the border of the square to select it. Both objects should now be selected.

  5. Choose Graphics > Align.

  6. In the Align dialog box, select T/B Centers and L/R Centers.

  7. Click Align to align the circle to the center of the square.

  8. Click away from the objects to deselect them.

Resizing Objects

Now, modify your square to form a large rectangle:
  1. Click on the border of the square to select it.

  2. Position the pointer on the bottom-center handle until it changes to an arrow (Resizing arrow).

    Resizing arrow

  3. Click and drag downward a few inches to extend the square into a rectangle.

  4. Choose Graphics > Object Properties.

  5. In the Object Properties dialog box, enter 5 for Height.

Duplicating Objects

Make two copies of your circles:
  1. Position the pointer on circle until it changes to a hollow arrow (Positioning arrow).

    Positioning arrow

  2. Click and Ctrl-drag downward to about the middle of the rectangle. When you hold Ctrl, the pointer gets a plus sign ( Additive arrow). This signifies that you are dragging a copy of the object instead of the original object.
    Note: If you also hold down Shift it forces you to drag in a straight line.
  3. Click and Ctrl-drag again to create a third circle at the bottom of the rectangle.

Distributing Objects

Distribute the circles evenly within the rectangle:
  1. Select any one of the circles.

  2. Hold down shift and select the other two.

  3. Choose Graphics > Distribute.

  4. In the Distribute dialog box, select Equidistant Centers for both Horizontal Spacing and Vertical Spacing.

  5. Click Distribute. The three circles are distributed in a straight line with equal space between them.

Grouping Objects

Now, group the three circles together:
  1. With all three circles still selected, choose Graphics > Group. The three circles are now treated like one object. The handles change to reflect this.

  2. With the group still selected, hold down Shift and select the rectangle.

  3. Choose Graphics > Align.

  4. In the Align dialog box, select T/B Centers and L/R Centers and click Align. The circles group is now centered in the rectangle.

  5. Now select the circles group and choose Graphics > Ungroup.

Changing Object Properties

Customize the color and type of fill of your circles:
  1. Select the top circle.

  2. Click the Fill Style pop-up menu.

    Fill style pop-up menu

  3. In the Fill pop-up menu, select Solid fill.

    Solid fill

    The current values are displayed on the right side of the drawing properties portion of the tools palette.

    Drawing properties

  4. Click the Set Color pop-up menu, and select Red.

    Color pop-up menu

  5. Select the middle circle.

  6. Give it a solid fill also, and a color of Yellow.

  7. Select the lower circle and give it a solid fill and a color of green.

  8. Now, select the rectangle.

  9. Click the Line Widths pop-up menu and select a thicker line weight.

    Line width properties

Adding Callouts and Text

Finally, add callouts and text:
  1. Click the line tool.

  2. Draw a line from the red circle to the right about an inch. Remember to hold down Shift while you draw if you want your line to be perfectly horizontal.

  3. Position the pointer over the line until it changes into a hollow arrow.

  4. Click the line and then hold down Ctrl and Shift while you drag downward towards the yellow circle. This creates a perfectly-aligned copy of the first line.

  5. Do the same to add a line to the green circle.

  6. Now, click the text tool.

  7. Click in the document window next to the callout for red to start a text line. Type the word Red. You can change the font and point size using the Format menu.

  8. Do the same to add text to the yellow and green circles.
    Note: Text lines are somewhat different than other drawing objects because you can select the object (with handles) or the text characters. Experiment with the two types of selection tools to see what kind of results you get.
In this tutorial you learned how to using the tools palette to create illustrations without ever leaving FrameMaker. Try adding arrowheads to the callouts in your drawing. Experiment with the other drawing tools and object properties.

If you've completed this tutorial and are taking an online course in print documentation, go to the FrameMaker workshop area of the Print Documentation Chatroom and let the rest of the class know how you did on this tutorial.

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