FrameMaker Tutorial:
Graphics

Developed for advanced documentation students by
David A. McMurrey Thomas A. Moore
Jacqueline J. Pulido ---

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 in samples.exe. (If this self-extracting zip file doesn't work for you, contact the e-mail address at the bottom of this page.) Other tutorials focus on the basics, styles, templates, tables, cross-references, book building, variable text and conversion techniques. 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. If you see any errors or think we should have included other tasks, let us know!

The tutorial's instructions are based on FrameMaker version 6.0 for Windows. You may encounter some minor differences if you are using another 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".

Displaying the Tools Palette

Open a new blank document and display the tools palette:
  1. Open FrameMaker.

  2. Choose File > New > Document.

  3. From the New dialog box, click Portrait to create 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.

  6. In the File name box, type graphics and click Save.

    Note: If you are working in the TCM computer lab, use the A: drive to save your file on a diskette.

Drawing Basic Shapes

Next, create some simple shapes using the drawing tools. The tools palette contains the following drawing tools:

Drawing Tools

Draw a rectangle:

  1. On the tools palette, click the rectangle tool ( rectangle tool).

  2. Click and drag the crosshair in the document window to draw a rectangle. After you release the mouse button and move the pointer away from the rectangle, 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.

Draw a square:
  1. Click the rectangle tool ( rectangle tool) again.

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

  3. Choose Graphics > Object Properties.

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

Draw an octagon:
  1. With the square still selected, choose Graphics > Set # Sides.

  2. In the Set Number of Sides dialog box, enter 8 for Number of Sides and click Set. You now have an octagon.

About Selecting Objects

Before you can change a drawing object or its properties, you must first select the drawing object. When an object is selected, selection handles appear around it. To select an object, you must click on the object's border.

Selection handles

You can use these handles to resize, reshape or rotate a drawing object. For example, to rotate the octagon you just created:

  1. Click on the octagon's border to select it.

  2. Hold down Alt and drag one of the octagon's selection handles in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

Aligning Objects

Align two objects relative to each other as follows:
  1. Draw a square. (Remember to hold down Shift while you draw the rectangle).

  2. Click on the oval tool ( Oval Tool ).

  3. Click and Shift-drag in the document window to draw a circle. Try to make the circle 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 center of the circle to the center of the square.

  8. Click away from the objects to deselect them.

Resizing Objects

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 the handle 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 and click Set.

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 this 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

Evenly distribute the spacing between the circles:
  1. Select any one of the circles.

  2. Hold down Shift and select the other two circles.

  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 now distributed with equal space between them.

Grouping Objects

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 selection handles have changed to reflect this new group.

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

  3. Center the group in the rectangle. Choose Graphics > Align.

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

  5. Ungroup the circles. Select the circles group and choose Graphics > Ungroup.

Changing Object Properties

Next, customize the color and type of fill of your circles and the line width of your rectangle using the tools palette. The left side of the tools palette contains the pop-up menus for changing the drawing properties and the right side displays the current settings.

Drawing Properties

  1. Select the top circle.

  2. Click the Fill Pattern pop-up menu ( Fill Pattern icon ).

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

    Solid fill

  4. Click the Color pop-up menu ( Color Icon ).

  5. In the Color pop-up menu, select Red.

    Color pop-up menu

  6. Select the middle circle and give it a solid fill and a color of yellow.

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

  8. Next, select the rectangle.

  9. Click the Line Widths pop-up menu ( Line Width icon ).

  10. Select a thicker line weight (a 4 pt weight is shown below).

    Line width pop-up menu

Adding Callouts and Text

Finally, add the callouts and text:
  1. Click the Line Widths pop-up menu ( Line Width icon ) and select a thinner line weight for the callouts.

  2. Click the Color pop-up menu ( Color Icon ) and select Black.

  3. Draw the callouts. Click the line tool ( Line Tool ).

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

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

  6. Create a perfectly aligned copy of the first line. Click the line and then hold down Ctrl and Shift while you drag downward towards the yellow circle.

  7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 to add a line to the green circle.

  8. Add the text. Click the text tool ( Text Tool ).

  9. 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.

  10. Repeat Steps 8 and 9 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 selection handles) or select 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.


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