Quick Tips for Concepts

How do you make design as simple as stretching your fingers?

Well, research. A bit of seeing how we’ve used technology over the last thirty years, and a lot of seeing how humans have designed the future for millennia.

If you want to draw something, you touch a finger to the sand. (Or a toe. Or a stick.) If you want to manipulate something, you touch the object and play with it. These are the types of gestures we like - ones that are practically intuition.

Also, conversation. We’re constantly asking how you think the designer’s ultimate UI should feel, and we’re building your feedback into our “smart” design app, Concepts. We’ve taken the sleekest mobile technology (iPad or iPhone), coded up a math-based manipulative engine, and applied the most basic of human gestures to allow you to truly enjoy design.

We believe brilliant design comes from your brilliant dreams, and shouldn’t be weighed down by a desk-heavy, complicated process.

To help you bring design back to your own hands, take a look at our top ten questions and answers regarding the Concepts design UI and your everyday, creative flow.

1. I draw a lot of technical designs that require straight lines. Can I do this with Concepts?

Absolutely. It’s easier than a ruler. Since you’re the designer, we like to give you the final say in how your lines look, and our Line Smoothing slider allows you to smooth your line from 0% quirky to 100% straight with a simple drag. Smooth your line before you draw, or select your line and smooth it after.

Tip: Set one pen on the toolbar to 100% smoothing, and another pen to ~20% smoothing. Toggle quickly between them for optimal lines and curves in your design.

2. How do I set my brush size?

Another slider so you have the say. Use the Line Thickness slider to change the width of your line, before or after your draw. For an exact custom width, tap-and-hold the slider and type in your size.

3. How do I set my opacity?

Every stroke deserves its own type of visibility. Before or after you draw, use the Opacity slider to make it invisible, 15% subtle, or 100% all there.

4. How do I copy my strokes?

Why do something multiple times if you can do it once and make a good copy? For that matter, how about an easy flip? Use our duplicate button in the selection popup for a quick copy (great for even simple, straight lines), and mirror using the vertical and horizontal flip buttons on the toolbar.

5. How do I fill in my shapes?

While bucket fill is on its way, the Filled Stroke tool has expressive abilities you may not have thought about. When you draw a shape using Filled Stroke, the tool will fill in for you as you draw, even funny or complicated lines. It fills the positive space, and leaves overlapping or negative spaces empty. If you don’t connect the ends of your shape, the Filled Stroke tool will do it for you with a straight line.

Tip: If you’ve drawn a shape with a pen, select the shape and change the tool to Filled Stroke for - voila! - a filled shape. If you want to keep your pen stroke and fill it in, too, select the stroke, duplicate it, and change the duplicate to Filled Stroke.

Tip: Try using the Filled Stroke tool with the shape guides for a precise, even fill.

6. When I select my drawing and make it bigger, the strokes don’t always grow at the same rate. How do I keep my drawing the way I drew it?

Depending on the tool settings you used in your sketch, your lines may grow at different rates. This maximizes your control and is great for technical details, but can be tricky for large scale changes. We've come up with one button on the selection popup that toggles Stretch versus Scale versus Static, so you can get any effect with any selection, at any time in the drawing process.

Stretch, Scale and Static act just like they sound. Stretch stretches your lines longer but doesn’t change the brush size. Scale makes everything in your selection grow proportionally. And Static does nothing. At all.

Tip: When using multiple types of tools in one drawing, including the size-intelligent Eraser, use Scale to make sure they grow or shrink in sync.

7. Why can I select the Eraser stroke? Doesn’t it just erase what I drew?

Vectors aren’t just ink on paper, they’re kind of inky entities--the ink plus the motion behind the ink. You can’t erase a stroke’s ink and expect it to live with its limb missing.

We’re working on a slice tool that applies proper bandaging to the wounds, but if you want crystal clear, growable, shrinkable, changeable lines to work with (the advantage of vector over raster drawing), then the best way to tuck unwanted portions out of sight is to either redraw the stroke or hide it. Our Eraser is a masking tool that allows you to hide pieces of your stroke. The erased stroke is also a vector, so you can grow and shrink it, too.

Tip: The Eraser only erases in the layer it was drawn in, so if it seems like it isn’t working for you, chances are you’re on the wrong layer. Many of our pro users recommend masking each layer as you go, to help you keep track of your perfect edges.

Tip: Try adjusting the opacity of your eraser stroke to make custom portions of your drawing transparent.

8. Layers. How do I use them?

Keeping pieces of your drawing separate comes in handy if you ever want to change or rearrange them. That’s what Layers are for. Draw in one layer, add another and draw right over the top while keeping the strokes independent.

Our Layer system is easy. To rearrange layers, tap the Layers menu on the toolbar, pull the layer out like a drawer, and drag it up or down. Tap-and-hold the layer to rename it.

9. How do I set scale and measurements?

Precision Mode gives exactness to your drawings by allowing you to see, change, and custom set scale and measurements. To set your Scale, enter the Settings menu and under Paper Size & Scale, enter in your ratio. Set one point, pixel or inch (all the way up to meters) on the Concepts screen to 10, 100, or however large your actual reality measurements are, and your measurements will match this scale.

To see your measurements, turn them on or off in the HUD (Heads Up Display) in the upper right corner. Tap-and-hold a unit length to set a custom size, and the line will change to what you specify. Remember to set your line to Static on the selection popup to avoid resizing if you move your line.

Tip: Any scale you set in the Settings menu will apply to Precision Mode’s shape guides, too, for easy dimensions.

Tip: Choose a grid type in the Settings menu that corresponds with your Scale ratio. For example, a 10/100 grid (featuring a 10x10 square) is a good match for a scale using a base 10 ratio (1:10 or 1:100 etc). A 16/64 grid is good for a 1:32 unit scale.

10. How do I use the Text Tool?

Our text tool comes equipped in every language. Choose the [Aa] button on the tool wheel. Touch the screen, type in your text, and hit the X in the upper left corner to exit the interface. Then adjust your text size, color, anything you want. To change the text, tap-and-hold the text label.

For more Concepts flow, check out our YouTube tutorials, browse in-depth photo tutorials on Medium, download our full-color manual with pictures or read through our lovely FAQ. Or, head in-app to Ask Us Anything and we’ll help! Happy sketching!