Stacked items with fixed relative position

Using a shadow I can build an object that behaves as illustrated by the following screenshot:

Is it possible to build or fake something similar, but with an object like the following?
In particular, what I want is the background shape/shadow not to stretch when the object is resized. That is, I do not want this:

Any idea?


  1. The question & answer seems to be really simple, thus I am afraid I have misunderstood it. Sorry if this does not apply.
  2. My answer if for OG 5.4.4. Of course it should work the same for any later release (unless OG have jettisoned rearward compatibility).

Yes. Simple.

  1. Make a Shape, say a square
  2. Duplicate it. Position them as you wish
  3. Group the two Shapes. Now you have one Object, composed of two Shapes
  4. Set the default on both Shapes to Text/Overflow (or Text/Clip)
    • (what you have is Text/ResizeToFit)
  5. Double-click or click twice on the forward Shape to access it [within the Group]. Type in your text.
  6. IFF the text in the front Shape exceeds the vertical size, wherein it overflows:
    • Set the forward Shape to Text/ResizeToFit

There are nuances that may make it better or worse for your particular use. You need to play with it and work the nuances out.

  • Eg. if you change the text, such that it no longer exceeds teh vertical size, you need to set it back to Text/Overflow.


In a similar grouped Object, I set the font in the rear Shape to Helvetica 24 dark red. Thus if I accidentally access the rear Shape and start typing, I get a nice red signal. That feature is in my Stencil.


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Ok, but that does not affect the back shape in any way (see screenshot below): are you implying that the back shape must be manually resized? The point of my question is whether it is possible to avoid manually tweaking the stacked shape as much as possible. As far as I can tell, the only way is to use a shadow as a back shape (as in my first screenshot above), although that limits the back shape to one uniform color.

That’s a good tip!

Yes. That is what I thought you wanted.

I thought I understood your requirement. But now I have doubts about that. In stating what you did not want, I thought you wanted the rear Shape to remain unchanged when changing the forward Shape.

  • If you want the two Shapes to move as one (ala Video 2 re what you did not want), do not select a Shape in the Object, instead, Select the Object: all Shapes in the Object will resize proportionately.
  • to get what [I think] you want in that Video 3, watch Video 2.
  • at step [4] set the grouped Object to Text/ResizeToFit
  • when you enter text into just the forward Shape in the Object, both Shapes will be resized

I don’t understand what you are saying.

  • what “stacked shape” ? We have two Shapes in a grouped Object
  • the “first screenshot” is a single Shape with the Shadow turned on, there is no “back shape”

I will just respond to the bits that I understand.


You have this problem:

Because you have not built your Atoms yet. Those basic, essential Objects that you will then use to construct more complex Objects (Molecules) in your diagrams.


I will give you the atom required for this Object.

  1. Backing
    Any decent Object needs a backing, that will not change, while the rest of the Shapes in the Object change. Further, we want a settable Shadow.
  • Draw a 1 cm x 1 cm square.
  • Set the Fill to white 100%
  • Set the Stroke to 1, red
  • Set the Shadow as you desire, it must have a distinct Shadow
  • Duplicate
    Shift the new [front] Shape directly over the previous [rear] Shape
    This is the front Shape, that you intend to be seen, the rear Shape will not be seen
  • Set the Shadow to red, sharp edges
    Set the Shadow Off
  • Set the Stroke as you desire, it will be seen
  • Make the Object
    Select the two Shapes
    Group the two Shapes
  • To access the rear Shape, select the forward Shape and shift it one Grid increment.

There, we have the second most useful atom, to make molecules from.

Use a Backing Object [atom] for the rear Shape. Click twice on the forward Shape, set the Fill to pink 50%. The rear Shape remains a solid colour, with a predictable Shadow. Set the Shadow as you wish.

Last, if you inform me as to exactly which symbol you are trying to build, I can provide more precision.


Thanks for the detailed explanation, but I think I did not explain myself clearly enough. This is the stencil I want:
I can build it by stacking and grouping two rectangles, of course. But when the stencil is resized (say, vertically), the distance between the bottom side of the front rectangle and the bottom side of the back rectangle changes:

The above is the result I get when I drag the grouped object. Another way to express the same issue is that, even if the stencil is initially aligned to a grid (that is, both the front and the back rectangle are indivisdually aligned to the grid, and the grouped object is as well, of course), resizing the grouped object maintains the group aligned to the grid, but the individual component objects are displaced off the grid.

The behaviour I am looking for is rather this:

Currently, to get this, I have to resize the front rectangle and the back rectangle separately, so that they remain aligned to the grid.

A (sharp) shadow would behave as I want, but a shadow does not have a fill and stroke color, so I cannot get the appearance of a white back rectangle with a dark border using a shadow.

I hope it is clear now. I can live with OG’s current behaviour, though slightly inconvenient: I wrote this post to know whether you gurus know a better way—perhaps, some setting that keeps the components of a grouped object aligned to the grid.


The only way is to obtain both rectangles aligned is to resize each rectangle separately.

I don’t.

Ok. So the value in all that detail is, the Backing Object, which may come in handy as your grouped Objects progress and mature.


If I may say so …

The issue you have in intellective, and typical of people with an OO mindset. The larger problem is the suppression of the hierarchy. The specific problem is, they want both the total independence of each Component, and also the total integrity of the Group [grouped Object]. This is the Inheritance problem that they have never resolved. It is not an exclusive choice at the Object level. It is to be understood that in any given Object, due to multiple inheritance, several channels of access exist and that when using one channel of access, the others will be negatively affected.

In this example, there are only two such channels, but that is enough to expose the issue. The resolution is to apply the Grouping last: easy in a compiler, but impossible in a tool that works from the finished product (an OO Object or a OG grouped Object) backwards. One must be clear in the intent, when approaching a grouped Object on one channel, and not expect the behaviour of the other channel:

  • either change the grouped Object
  • xor change one or more Components of a grouped Object

As demonstrated here, the correction was at the intellective level, the expectation.