Draw Guide 7.3

Chapter 5,
Combining Multiple Objects


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To this edition

Peter Schofield

Kees Kriek


To previous editions

John Cleland

Martin Fox

Jean Hollis Weber

John A Smith

Peter Schofield

Hazel Russman

Claire Wood

Winston Min Tjong



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Publication date and software version

Published May 2022. Based on LibreOffice 7.3 Community.
Other versions of LibreOffice may differ in appearance and functionality.

Using LibreOffice on macOS

Some keystrokes and menu items are different on macOS from those used in Windows and Linux. The table below gives some common substitutions for the instructions in this document. For a detailed list, see the application Help.

Windows or Linux

macOS equivalent


Tools > Options on Menu bar

LibreOffice > Preferences on Menu bar

Access to setup options


Ctrl+click and/or right-click depending on computer setup

Opens a context menu

Ctrl or Control

⌘ and/or Cmd or Command

Used with other keys


⌥ and/or Alt or Option

Used with other keys



Open the Styles deck in the Sidebar

Grouping objects

Grouping of objects is similar to putting objects into a container. Objects within a group are moved together as one object and any changes made are applied globally to the objects within the group. A group can always be undone and the objects that make up the group can always be manipulated separately.

Temporary grouping

A temporary grouping is when several objects are selected. Any changes to object parameters are applied to all of the objects within the temporary group. For example, a temporary group of objects can be rotated in its entirety.

A temporary group is created using one of the following methods:

To cancel a temporary group of objects, simply click outside of the selection handles displayed around the objects.


When objects are grouped, any editing operations carried out on the group are applied to all objects within the group. Click on one object in a group, and the whole group is selected.

The objects within a group retain their own individual properties and can be edited independently. See “Editing individual group objects” on page 1 for more information.

1)  Select the objects for a group using one of the following methods. Selection handles appear around all the objects selected for the group (Figure 1).

2)  Create the group of selected objects using one of the following methods:


1)  Select the group of objects and selection handles appear around the objects within the group (Figure 1).

2)  Ungroup the group of objects using one of the following methods:

Figure 1: Example of grouping objects


Figure 2: Example of editing objects within a group


Editing individual group objects

An object within a group can be edited individually without ungrouping the objects.

1)  Select a group, then enter the group using one of the following methods. After entering a group, objects outside the group cannot be selected for editing.

2)  Once inside the group, click on any object to select and individually edit it (Figure 2).

3)  After making and saving changes to an individual object, exit the group using one of the following methods:

Nesting groups

A group of groups can be created and this is commonly known as nesting groups. When nested groups are created, Draw retains the individual group hierarchy and remembers the order in which groups were selected. That is, the last individual group selected will be on top of all the other groups within a nested group. Ungrouping and entering a nested group works in exactly the same way as for individual groups.


If group and ungroup commands are regularly used, or any other command, tools can be added to a toolbar so that they are readily available. See Appendix B, Toolbars and the Getting Started Guide for more information on customizing toolbars.

Combining, splitting, breaking, and connecting

Combining objects

Combining objects is a permanent merging of objects creating a new object. The original objects are no longer available as individual objects and cannot be edited as individual objects.

1)  Select several objects for combining.

2)  Combine the selected objects into a single object using one of the following methods:

At first glance, the results can seem rather surprising, but the following explains how combining objects works.

Figure 3: Combining objects


Figure 4: Example of area fill when combining overlapping objects


Figure 5: Example of splitting a combined object


Splitting combined objects

An object which has been combined from several objects can be split into individual objects. However, the original objects retain the formatting of the combined object and do not revert back to their original formatting.

Select the combined object and use one of the following methods to split the combined object:

In Figure 5, the left graphic is the original example of overlapping area fills before combining. The right graphic is the result of splitting the combined object. The individual overlapping objects have taken the formatting of the object (Rectangle 1) at the back of the overlapping objects.

Breaking objects

An object that consists of more than one part can be broken into its individual parts as follows. For example, a star is broken into separate lines and the area fill is lost, as shown by the center graphic in Figure 6.

1)  Select an object that consists of more than one part.

2)  Convert the object to a curve or polygon using one of the following methods:

Figure 6: Example of breaking objects


3)  Go to Shape > Break on the Menu bar and the object is broken into individual parts.

4)  Move, format or delete the individual parts as necessary, as shown by the right object in Figure 6.

Connecting lines

The individual parts of an object or more than one line can be connected together as follows:

1)  Select all the objects that are going to be connected.

2)  Go to Shape > Connect on the Menu bar. Individual lines or lines in a border are converted to curves and the end points of each line connected.


The shape created when connecting individual parts or lines is not a closed shape. The new shape has to be closed using “Closing objects” to create an area fill.

Closing objects

Closing objects creates an object that can use an area fill.

1)  Select an object that has a gap in its border.

2)  Right-click on the selected object and select Close Object from the context menu to close the gap.

3)  Format the area fill created to requirements. See Chapter 4, Changing Object Attributes for more information on working with area fills.

Merging, subtracting, or intersecting objects

After selecting more than one object, the merge, subtract, and intersect functions become available. This allows creation of a new object with a new shape.


When merging objects, a new object is created with a shape that follows the shape of the merged objects. The area fill of the merged object is determined by the area fill of the object that is at the rear of all the other objects, as shown in Figure 7.

After selecting several objects, use one of the following methods to merge the objects:

Figure 7: Merging objects



When subtracting objects, the objects at the front are subtracted from the object behind. This leaves a blank space that the subtracted objects occupied creating a new shape, as shown in Figure 8. After selecting several objects that overlap each other, use one of the following methods to subtract objects:

Figure 8: Subtracting objects



When intersecting objects, the front objects and the exposed area of the object at the rear are removed. This creates a new object from the area of the object at the rear that was covered by the objects at the front, as shown in Figure 9.

After selecting several objects that overlap each other, use one of the following methods to intersect objects:

Figure 9: Intersecting objects


Practical example

The following example shows how to use the merge, subtract, and intersect functions to create a knife with a wooden handle.

Draw an ellipse and then a rectangle overlapping half of its width.


Select both shapes, right-click, and select Shapes > Subtract from the context menu.


Draw another rectangle and put it over the top half of the ellipse.


Select both shapes, right-click, and select Shapes > Subtract from the context menu.


Draw a small ellipse covering just the lower right corner.


Select both shapes, right-click, and select Shapes > Subtract from the context menu. The knife blade shape is now complete.


To make the handle, draw a rectangle and an ellipse.


Merge the shapes together.


Position the handle on the blade. Select the handle and blade, then group together to create a drawing of the knife.


Duplication and cross-fading


Duplication makes copies of an object while applying a set of changes (such as color or rotation) to the duplicates.

1)  Select an object or group of objects, then use one of the following methods to open the Duplicate dialog (Figure 10):

2)  Select the number of copies, placement, enlargement, and the start and end colors for duplicate copies.

Figure 10: Duplicate dialog


Figure 11: Duplication example


3)  Click OK and duplicate copies are created. An example of a duplication is shown in Figure 11. Each duplicate object is a separate object.

4)  To group the duplicate objects into one group, see “Grouping objects” on page 1.

5)  To combine the duplicate objects into one object, see “Combining, splitting, breaking, and connecting” on page 1.

The following options are available when using the Duplicate dialog:


Cross-fading transforms one object shape into another object shape. The result is a new group of individual objects that includes the start and end objects. The intermediate steps show the transformation from one object shape to another object shape. The cross-fading is carried out from the first object selected to the second object selected.

1)  Select two objects and go to Shape > Cross-fading on the Menu bar to open the Cross‑fading dialog (Figure 12).

2)  In Settings, select the number of Increments for the transformation.

3)  If necessary, in Settings, select Cross-fade attributes and Same orientation.

Figure 12: Cross-fading dialog


Figure 13: Cross-fading example


4)  Click OK to cross-fade the selected objects and close the Cross-fading dialog. An example of cross-fading is shown in Figure 13 with Same orientation deselected. The object created is a group of objects.

5)  To ungroup this group of objects and use the individual objects, see “Ungrouping” on page 1.

The following options are available in the Cross-fading dialog:

Positioning objects

Arranging objects

When combining, merging, subtracting, or intersecting objects, the end result varies depending on which object is at the front and which object is at the back. Each new object placed on a drawing automatically becomes the front object and all the other objects move backwards in positioning order. Arranging objects changes the order of a group of objects.

To change the arrangement position of an object, select one or more objects and then use one of the following methods

Figure 14: Position toolbar



The positioning tools can be turned into a floating toolbar by clicking at the top of the pop-up on the Standard toolbar and dragging it to a new position on a drawing, as shown in Figure 14.

The arrangement options available are as follows:

Aligning objects

To make a drawing look more professional, objects can be aligned with each other. Select one or more objects and use one of the following methods to align objects:

Figure 15: Align Objects toolbar



The alignment tools can be turned into a floating toolbar by clicking at the top of the pop-up toolbar and dragging it to a new position on a drawing workspace, as shown in Figure 15.

The alignment tools available are as follows:

Distributing objects

Distributing objects allows three or more objects to be evenly spaced along a horizontal axis or vertical axis. Objects are distributed using the outermost objects in the selection as base points for spacing.

Select at least three objects, then use one of the following methods to distribute the objects:

Figure 16: Distribute Selection toolbar



The distribution tools can be turned into a floating toolbar by clicking at the top of the pop-up toolbar and dragging it to a new position on a drawing workspace, as shown in Figure 16.

The distribution options available are as follow: