Art boards: can someone explain simply?

I have OG Pro. I’m testing out the beta. Art boards seems to be a big new feature. It’s early in the morning where I live, so I may be denser than usual … but the purpose of art boards is very opaque to me. There’s a lot of help text about artboards but most of it at the beginning doesn’t help me at all.

… “Art boards aren’t like regular layers, art boards go below, not above. blah blah blah. Stuff about how art boards don’t seem to do anything different. blah blah blah.”" And then I’m done reading.

… before I dive into how to create an art board, or how it’s different from regular layers, as a novice I don’t need all that technicality right away. (It’s definitely needed, just not first thing.) Starting at sentence one I’d like to know not how it’s different, not how to implement, but WHY I’d want to use an art board. How does it help me (potentially), what can I do with art boards that I couldn’t without, etc.

… can anyone simply describe the power/function of art boards in this fashion? I still have no idea if it’s a new tool I’ll adore, or just need to ignore (as I’m sure it will be great for some folks).

The artboards define exportable areas on the canvas.

Let’s say I’m working on a website mockup in Omnigraffle and draw three graphics I intend to use on a web page. Once I’m done I need to export each graphic a a separate file. I don’t need the entire mockup exported, but only those three graphics. So I define an artboard around each of them, a total of three artboards → export artboards as PNG or SVG → done.

@Tudor Thanks for the very clear explanation. I just tested it out and it works a charm!!! Fantastic new feature. Easy to use.

Nothing against you, Tudor. This is about the software.

This sounds exactly like the other New Feature (the one with the box that does absolutely nothing when clicked) that works perfectly.

In OG 4 and 5 (and in OG 6, as long as they didn’t remove it), one simply drags the cursor, diagonally, so as to select a bunch of stuff on the canvas (eg. one graphic out of the three), and export as PNG, SVG, etc (choose ExportArea = SelectedArea). Done.

People who were switched on would make a white rectangle, without a stroke and place it behind the artwork-to-be-exported. One for each area of the canvas that is to be exported. Tidy it up, re margins, etc. Maybe name it. Then when they need to export, it is easier, cleaner, still.

There are many option in the ExportAs window:

  • EntireDoc
  • Canvas
  • SelectedArea (what you dragged)
  • SpecificRegion (set origin plus height & width)
  • AllObjects

But someone who is evidently clueless about the product actually wrote a “new feature” that does what the old feature has always done.

Hey, that is the value of Marketing. Labelling is everything. That’s what happens when Marketing drives Development. No bug fixes, but “new” existing features, and “new features” that do nothing.

Sad, really. It used to be such a great product.

@GraffleGuru the artboards are more useful than a simple “export selection” option. It’s a feature already available in other vector drawing apps like Sketch or Illustrator, so it’s a much welcome addition to OmniGraffle too. It allows exporting several separate graphics, at as many different sizes as you need, as separate files, all at once. Anyone who does web design or UX design will surely appreciate this.

Does “at once” mean one Export command, producing several files, one per nominated ArtBoard ?

Yes, one export command resulting in one or more exported files for each artboard.

In that case, it is a new feature. The other bits do not make it a feature, but that item does.

Ok, I retract what I said.

I do a fair amount of web site design myself (the production of dynamic content, as distinct from web page design, which is skin-centric), and I wouldn’t want my Exports in piles of files, so I didn’t think anyone would actually want that.

Just bumping this because I’m genuinely confused by this feature. As somebody who is used to artboards in Sketch and Affinity Designer, as I’m sure a lot of OmniGraffle users are, I downloaded the trial thinking this was the only new feature justifying a new major version number for me. But this idea of artboards seems totally different at worst, extremely unintuitive at best. I’ve played around with it a bit, and read some of the manual, but I still don’t see how this is an artboards feature. Am I completely missing something here? That’s very possible. But overall I also don’t see how any of the new features justify a 7.0 release rather than a 6.xx.

Our apologies for not explaining it better!

Artboards define regions of the canvas that can be moved and exported together. Creating an artboard is as simple as selecting some shapes, then using the Make Artboard (⇧⌘A) command. You can also use the artboard tool (keyboard shortcut “A”) to drag out a new artboard on the canvas.

In either case, your new artboard is placed on an artboard layer. If you wish, you can reorder that layer to be above or below other layers: objects on layers below the artboard are considered background, and won’t be moved or exported along with that artboard. But by default, that layer will be the bottommost layer—so all shapes on the canvas that overlap the artboard will be considered to be included as part of it.

When it comes to be time to export, you can check “Export from artboards only” to create a separate file (or PDF page) for each artboard. Files will be named after the artboard itself, so you could have artboards named “ShapeTool” and “LineTool” and export to PNG at 2x and 3x and automatically end up with files named ShapeTool.png@2x, ShapeTool@3x.png, LineTool@2x.png, and LineTool@3x.png.

Does that help? There’s certainly a lot more depth to how they work, but most of that extra depth is stuff you shouldn’t need to care about until you actually need to use it.

If you have any questions, we’re happy to help!

(Some examples of that extra depth that you don’t really need to worry about up front: you can change the shape of an artboard if you wish to export a non-rectangular region. Or you can create overlapping artboards, which you might use when you want an artboard for an entire toolbar you’re designing as well as individual artboards for each icon that is placed on that toolbar—in which case you’d probably place the toolbar’s artboard on a lower artboard layer than the icon artboards.)

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Can we have “export selected artboards” only?

Sometimes you make improvements to a specific asset without affecting the others and you don’t want to have to export everything again.