Controlling Scaling on Parts of Stencils?

Is it possible to have a stencil where part of the stencil will scale and part will not? For instance – if you’re making AWS architecture diagrams (e.g., you will often have some kind of area – say a rounded box with a dashed line – with some kind of marker on the edge indicating what the box is (a subnet, VPC, availability zone).

It’d be nice to have a stencil containing both the box and the marker and be able to scale the stencil such that the box grows and the marker does not. If I make my VPC box grow, I don’t want the VPC logo to grow with it.

I believe that’s not currently possible – and most of the stencils I’ve used don’t seem to operate that way, but I’d like to confirm that.

(Not “stencil”, but a complex object, from a Stencil that you down-loaded.)


Scaling is scaling. Period. The whole idea is to scale the entire complex object, such that all simple objects within the complex object are scaled at the same rate. We want that. That is what we asked for years ago.

So if you want to be able to scale the way you have described, which is the ability to mark certain simple objects within the complex object, to be DoNotScale, then that is an enhancement. Make the request and wait forty two years.

Part of the problem, or the difficulty, lies in the pathetic and immature complex objects that people create, and then publish, in a Stencil. When no thought has gone into it, and particularly if you have a need like this, careless or childish objects simply cannot be used.

  • Check this thread for an example of pathetic objects published as a “stencil”.

  • AWS is legless, a superficial set of “icons”. There are well-established standards for each of the intended verticals, that have maturity and precision (meaning, in that particular vertical).

  • Visio is not only legless, the user community is used to only simple diagrams, and thus the Visio Stencils are very immature. If you down-loaded one of those, and converted it to OG, you will have problems.

So you might have to Edit the Stencil and make a worthy complex object.

I am a high-end user, on OG 5 Pro, and I cannot go to 6 because it is bug-ridden. OG 7 is too hilarious to consider. Point is, I can do exactly what you describe, with precision, even in OG 5, which has primitive scaling, with no regard to fontsize. If you post a precise diagram of one “icon”, AWS or other, I will give you the method.

I downloaded the AWS “simple icon” set. They are just simple flat images, with no properties. Therefore it appears that it is you who has created the the complex object (rectangle; round corners; dashed stroke, plus an “icon”), and that it was not an object from a downloaded Stencil. (I will leave my post above as is, because it may apply to others who may read this thread.)

That makes it much easier.

  • Ungroup the object
  • exclude the “marker” or “icon”
  • Group the rest
  • Scale
  • Now move the “marker” or “icon” to wherever to want to locate it.

I did download a stencil – a couple of 'em, including one that I used on several diagrams.

The objects in the stencil scale all at once, so when I expand a boundary, the icon gets larger, and often loses its aspect ratio. I thought about simply downloading the AWS icons and making my own objects, but that led me to wonder if it were possible to make objects where parts scaled and parts didn’t, and from looking into the documentation, it didn’t seem feasible.

Sounds like the answer to that is “no”?

While I recognize that I could have the objects separate such that the scaling ones scale and the non-scaling ones do not, it would be nice at times to have objects that could mix scaling, so that you could define complex diagram objects with complex scaling behaviours. More specifically, it would let you easily have groups of objects that are frequently used together in a way that makes them easy to add and resize.

I’m sure that would lead to further limitations, but it’d be nice to have.

In any case, I think for now, I’d be better off not using the stencil I have and just grab some of the AWS-provided shapes and make my own boundaries.

General point. When changing the size of an object (Grouped or not), you can maintain AspectRatio:

  • either hold the Shift key down while dragging a corner Handle,

  • or use the Inspector/Properties/Geometry (enter the new dimensions) with MaintainAspectRatio set


That is an Enhancement Request:

the ability to mark certain simple objects within the complex object, to be DoNotScale, then that is an enhancement. Make the request and wait.

Yes. Especially when the Stencils that are available for your need are of poor quality.

Some Pointers for Creating Stencils

  • the more you put into the objects, the more useful they will be
  • but that is a function of your experience with OG. So that really means, that you can expect to Edit your Stencil many times, over a long period of time. Don’t try to get it perfect the first time, with some complex drawing in mind. Let it happen.
  • always use a grid, and always SnapToGrid.
    • I use 2cm major, 10 minor
  • all objects oriented to the grid, and oriented to the objects that it will be joined to.
    • That means getting the Magnets in the right positions such that the connecting lines (when they are drawn) are easy and correct (no line hiccups).
  • use a small range of colours, the lightest possible, and use them consistently
  • colour has an impact on the Right Brain. You want the information in the diagram to stand out, not the colours (the newbie uses bright colours and reverses the order of importance)

Hope that helps

I was just wishing for this again.

I’m happy to put effort in to create complex objects more suited to my needs, but it sounds like there’s no way for me to, for instance, create a complex object that represents a boundary with an icon in the corner such that I can resize the object and have the icon part stay the same size – so there’s no point in grouping things like this, the boundary and icon should be separate if I want to scale them independently.

The problem is then that I will often want to move them as group, but scale them independently.

That is a much more simple need, and the answer, the ability to do that in OG is also simple. OG has a feature they call “click through” to select specific objects within a grouped object: click once for the object; click again for the next layer “in” that; click again for the next layer “in” that; etc.

The grouped object [a] that we are discussing contains a simple object [b] in the background, that is basically a rectangle that represents the border of [a], plus an icon or other graphic or shape [c] in the foreground.

  • click once to select the grouped object
    • use those Handles to resize the grouped object
  • click once to select the background object within the grouped object
    • use those Handles to resize the selected single object
    • which leaves the other objects in the grouped object unchanged

No. Keep the grouped object. It absolutely has a value.

Separately, you can certainly improve the construction of the grouped object; the layers; etc, in order to obtain precisely what you want, to perform the internal changes as you wish (refer to my other comments in this thread). Eg.

  • the background object [b] may well be a grouped object
  • and the foreground object [c] may well be another grouped object
  • and the whole object [a] is made by grouping [b] and [c]
  • such that you can select and resize the background object without affecting the foreground object.