Blockpad drawings are made for crisp, clear sketches and diagrams. Plus, drawings can have text and calculations that connect with the rest of your document.

The in-depth drawing video is a great place to start for learning the drawing tools and what you can do with them.


Start a drawing

Drawings can be stand-alone as a top-level frame, inside a report as a subframe, or drawn on top of reports and spreadsheets. There are good reasons to use each method, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

Top level drawings

Top level drawings separated from other parts of the document, like a "sheet" in conventional spreadsheets.

The advantage is that you can zoom in and out using the mouse scroll, so it is easier to create bigger, more detailed sketches.

The disadvantage is that your drawing is more separated from calculations in your report, so you have to go back and forth a lot while looking at both.

Insert a top level 2D canvas:
  1. Click the insert button.
  2. Select 2D Canvas.
  3. Under Placement, select a Top-Level option.
  4. Click OK.

To move around in a top-level drawing, use the mouse scroll to zoom in and out, and use the middle click to drag the page in different directions.

Subframe drawings

A subframe drawing is when you insert a "drawing frame" into a report or multiline cell. This drawing frame is it's own entire drawing, just located inside of a report.

With subframe drawings, you can have multiple, separate drawings located alongside your calculations in a report. The benefit of doing this instead of drawing on the page is that your drawings are more distinct and separate, instead of one big mixture of calculations and drawing objects.

Because you can't you can't zoom in with the mouse scroll on sub frame drawings, it can be harder to draw more detailed sketches than with top level drawings. One method we suggest is to draw a basic outline in a subframe drawing to get the size right, then copy the drawing objects into a top level drawing, where you can draw the details. Once you're done in the top level drawing, copy and paste the drawing objects back into the subframe drawing.

Insert a subframe drawing into a report:
  • While in a report frame, click the Insert Drawing button.

Exit the canvas with the esc key or by double clicking outside the frame. To enter a canvas for drawing, double click it.

On page drawings

With on page drawings, you can draw on top of spreadsheets or reports. The drawing will appear over any other content on the page, like tables or equations.

With on page drawings, you have more freedom to put your sketches anywhere, but it can be harder to keep things organized.

Start on page drawing:
  • While in a report or spreadsheet, select Draw>Draw On Page.

To exit on page drawing mode, click the Exit Frame button in the far left side of the toolbar. To re-enter on page drawing, select Draw>Draw On Page again.

Also, once you've drawn an object onto a page, you can click on it to modify it without entering into on page drawing mode again.

Drawing objects

When you open or enter a canvas frame, the drawing tools appear in the toolbar.

Lines, points, and shapes

Lines and shapes make up the backbone of Blockpad drawings. All of the objects below can be inserted using tools in the toolbar.

Points Select the point to place it. Press esc key to end.
Lines Select the start point and end point, then continue to select end points. Press esc key to end.
Arrow lines Select the start point and end point, then continue to select end points. Press esc key to end.
The arrow will appear at the end of last segment.
Freehand line Click and drag to draw the line. Press esc key to end.
Rectangle Select one corner, and then select the opposite corner.
Circle Select the center and a point on the perimeter.
Arc Select the center, the start point, and the end point.
For 180 deg, the end point must be counter-clockwise of the start.

Text labels

Text labels are like floating spreadsheet cells in a drawing.

Use them for a line of text in the drawing, or use them as a formula for calculations or referencing values. Just like a spreadsheet cell, start with an equals sign for a formula.

Insert a text label:
  1. In a drawing, select Draw Text Label in the toolbar
  2. Select the top left corner location.
  3. Select a point to determine orientation.
    • Horizontal and to the right produces a horizontal label.
  4. Type in the value.
    • Type an equals sign at the start for a formula.
  5. Select OK.

To edit a text label value, double click it.

Linear dimension labels

Linear dimensions are text labels with lines and arrows to illustrate the length of something.

They also act similar to spreadsheet cells, and can be text, numbers, or a formula.

Linear dimensions have a default value that corresponds to the measurement length of the dimension. To reset a linear dimension to show the measurement length, change the Use Measured Value property to Yes.

Note: the measurement length depends on the drawing scales.

Insert a dimension label:
  1. In a drawing, select Draw Linear Dimension in the toolbar
  2. Select start and end of the length to be labeled.
  3. Select the location for the actual label.
  4. Double click the label to edit the value.

Textboxes act like a floating report frame or multiline cell. They hold text, dynamic equations, tables, or anything else a report can hold.

Insert a textbox
  1. In a drawing, select Draw Textbox in the toolbar
  2. Specify the top left and bottom right corners.
  3. Type like in a document.

Click outside of the textbox to exit, and click inside the box to edit.


For images, copy the image and then paste it into the drawing. Functionally, the image acts like a rectangle whose fill is the image.

Selecting multiple objects

To select a single object, just click on it. Click on empty space or another objects to deselect.

Hold ctrl and click to select and deselect multiple objects.

Click and drag to select multiple objects at a time.

  • Click and drag to the left to select everything that touches the box.
  • Click and drag to the right to select only the objects fully in the box.
  • Use ctrl+clicking to continue to select or deselect.

Ordering objects

Objects can be positioned behind or in front of other objects.

Select the object, right click, and select Bring to Front or Send to Back.

Using the point snapping

Point snapping makes Blockpad drawings great for engineering sketches and diagrams. It is similar to existing 2D CAD tools like Autocad.

When inserting or moving a drawing object (e.g. a line), the point you're selecting will snap to different points on existing geometry.

For example, if you start a line and place the point near the end of an existing line, the point will snap to the end.

Points you can snap to

Below are the different snap points for different kinds of objects.

In addition to these snap points, you can snap to any line while selecting a point. Line intersections also act as snap points.

Drawing Object Snap Points
Points The point
Lines and arrow lines The ends and midpoint
Rectangles, textboxes, and polygons The corners and midpoints
Circles The center
Arcs The start and end points
Text labels The corners and midpoints
Linear dimensions The start and end points, and the label center
Horizontal and vertical from points

If you hover over a snap point, the point will temporarily function as a reference point and appear in light blue. Now you can snap along the horizontal or vertical lines going from the point.

Parallel or perpendicular lines

Lines can be made parallel to other lines:

  1. While specifying a line endpoint, hover over a line.
    • Hover on the line, not a snap point (end or midpoint).
  2. Make the line endpoint so it's close to parallel.
  3. Snap to the light blue line that appears.

Lines can also be made perpendicular:

  1. Start the line away from the line it will be perpendicular to.
  2. Bring the end point to the perpendicular line, so that it's about perpendicular.
  3. When the line snaps to position, that is perpendicular.

If the perpendicular line isn't exactly where you want it, use the move tools or parallel line snapping to adjust.

Point snap options

You can turn different point snapping features on and off using Draw>Point Snap Options in the toolbar. You can also turn point snapping off entirely.

Transformations - resizing and moving

To resize an object, click on one of the points that appear when you hover over it, and then drag the point to a new location.

While resizing, point snapping is still available, including the original geometry of the object you're changing.

For example, click on the end of a line and drag it to a new endpoint. (Note that you can use the parallel snapping on the original line to keep the same direction.)

Quick move

To do a quick move for an object, click on it (not on a resizing point) and drag to the new location.

You can also select a group of objects and move them this way.

Move object tool

For more precision when moving objects, use the move object tool. This makes the most of point snapping.

Use the move objects tool
  1. Select the objects to be moved.
  2. Select Move Objects in the toolbar.
  3. Select a reference point on the drawing.
    • This will be used to locate the objects.
    • The point doesn't have to be on the geometry, but it often is.
  4. Select the location for the objects, based on the reference point.

Rotate objects tool

The rotate objects tool makes it possible to rotate groups of objects in a controlled way.

Use the rotate objects tool
  1. Select the objects to be rotated.
  2. Select Rotate Objects in the toolbar.
  3. Select a center of rotation for the objects to rotate about.*
  4. Select a reference starting point.*
  5. Select a point to specify the new orientation of the reference point (with respect to the origin).*

*These points don't have to be on the geometry, but they often are.

Copy and paste objects

To copy objects, first select them, then copy and paste, either through the right click dropdown or keyboard shortcuts (ctrl+c, ctrl+v). The reference point for pasting will be automatically determined.

For more precision, use the ctrl+shift+c shortcut to copy the objects.

Select the objects, press ctrl+shift+c, and select a reference point. Then press ctrl+v to paste the objects using the reference point.

Format drawings

Change canvas size

For drawings inside a report, the width is autosized to match the margins. To change the height follow the steps below.

Change drawing canvas height
  1. Right click the canvas and select Properties.
  2. Click Canvas Size, toward the top of the properties window.
  3. Change the height.
    • The default is inches, but you can type in other measurements (e.g. 20 cm).
  4. Click OK.

For top-level drawings, you can change the drawing size to whatever you'd like.

Change top-level canvas size
  1. Right click the canvas in the list of top-level frames and select Properties.
  2. Click Canvas Size, toward the top of the properties window.
  3. Change the width and the height.
    • The default is inches, but you can type in other measurements (e.g. 20 cm).
  4. Click OK.
Formatting drawing objects

The basic properties for objects are line color, line thickness, fill color, and line pattern.

The line properties apply to any lines and any shape that has lines for an edge (e.g. rectangles or circles). You can change these properties in the toolbar or access them in the properties window.

Use the properties window for object formatting

There are a few more useful properties for different kinds of objects. These are covered below.

In general you can select an object and open the properties window to see what you can change.


You can change point size and point color in the properties window.

Arrow sizes

For arrow lines and linear dimensions, you can change the arrow size (length and width). For arrow lines, you can also set it so that the arrow shows at the beginning, end, or both. Do this in the properties window.


Shapes like rectangles and circles have the option to show only the edge, only the fill, or both.

The default is to show both. To change this, use the Shape Type property in the properties window.

Text labels and linear dimensions

Text formatting is available for text labels and linear dimensions.

Also, the analogy to spreadsheet cells generally extends to formatting too, so value formatting and properties like show formula also apply.


The "box" for a textbox acts like a rectangle shape: it can have edges, fill color, and things like that.

Inside, textboxes have the same kind of formatting options as a report or multiline cell.

Style rules for drawing objects

Style rules give you the power to change the default property settings for objects. In general they can be used for any kind of content in Blockpad - text, equations, cells, etc.

For drawing objects, you can set the formatting you want for lines and shapes just once. Then if you need to make a formatting change, it applies to everything under the rule.

Set up style rules for drawing objects
  1. Click on Style Rules in the toolbar.
  2. In the style rules window, click the Add button to the top left.
  3. (Optional) - Give the rule a name.
  4. Select the object type.
    • To apply to any drawing object, select Any Geometry
  5. Specify the desired properties.
    • For drawing objects, line color, line size, and fill color would be most common.
  6. Add more style rules as required.
    • Conflicting rules are resolved depending on order, which can be changed using the Move Up and Move Down buttons
  7. Close out of the style rules window.

Now any objects that you create will have these properties. Also, any existing object with default properties will be updated.

You can override the style rules by changing an object's properties like normal.

Keyboard input and canvas scales

You can use the keyboard to input point coordinates or to specify the distance a point is from a reference point.

Typed-in points

For points specified by typed-in coordinates, the canvas works as a coordinate plane with the origin at the bottom left.

Specify a point with keyboard input:
  1. Start inserting a drawing object (point, line, circle, etc.).
  2. Instead of clicking for the point, type in coordinates.
    • For example, type 2, 2.
  3. Press enter.

The units of the coordinate plane are determined by the base unit property of the canvas.

Also, changing the canvas scale or measurement scale affect how this coordinate plane works.

Typed-in distance

You can also specify the length of a line or the distance of a point from another reference point.

Like typing in a point, the number you type in corresponds to the base unit, canvas scale, and measurement scale.

When the distance is specified, you use the mouse to give the orientation that determines the final point.

Specify a distance with keyboard input:
  1. Start inserting a drawing object (point, line, circle, etc.).
  2. Hover over a snap point to establish a reference point (it will be highlighted light blue).
    • If the point is a followint point in the series, then that will be the reference point.
    • For example, if specifying the endpoint for a line, the start point is the reference point.
  3. Click to specify the orientation of the point.

Understanding drawing scales

To understand the scales in Blockpad drawings, an analogy to paper is helpful.

  • The Canvas Size is the real size of the paper.
  • The Measurement Scale is the drawing scale on the paper (like an architect or drafter's scale).
  • The Canvas Scale is the size the drawing objects appear relative to the paper.

Practically, changing the canvas size, canvas scale, and the measurement scale have different affects on the drawing and the tools.

Canvas size

Changing the canvas size is used to change the size of the "paper" you're working on. It's covered under formatting.

Measurement scale

Changing the measurement scale affects the measurement length used for linear dimensions.

For example, say there is 1 inch linear dimension. If the measurement scale is changed to 10, then the linear dimension will show as 10 in.

Also, changing the measurement scale will affect the location and length of points inserted using the keyboard. (This can be turned off by changing ruler mode from scale to ruler in the toolbar).

For example, say the measurement scale is 10. If you type in 15 while setting the length of a line, the line will be 1.5 inches when compared to the page size.

Canvas scale

The canvas scale controls how big objects appear relative to the canvas size. If you increase the canvas scale, the objects get larger, and if you decrease it the objects get smaller.

Note that this also affects the size and location of keyboard inputs.

In general it's best to use the canvas scale for resizing geometry when the on-paper scale isn't very important. So, typically Canvas Scale and Measurement Scale aren't used together.

Table of Contents