Mastering Symbols and Anchoring in Gravit Designer

Pablo Petzen
Sep 20, 2017 · 6 min read

Hello everyone, in this article we will teach how to use and master Gravit Designer’s Symbol and anchoring features.

Symbol example.

What is a Symbol?

A Symbol is a component created in Designer, that can be re-used indefinitely — as soon as you perform a change in the Master Symbol, all other instances will automatically update.

Symbol Container

When you create a Symbol and try to move an object inside of it, you will figure that there is a little outline around it, that displays the limits of the symbol. This limit is used for alignment, distortion and for the anchoring system and can’t be changed after the Symbol is created.

What is a Symbol Instance?

It is a replica of the Master Symbol, that will take all unaltered styles from his parent. You are allowed to change the text content or replace images, as well as the styling of the instances without affecting the Master Symbol.

Can I remove an item from a symbol instance? Yes, just click in the item and hit backspace/delete, the item will be displayed as invisible in the layer tree and you can enable it again whenever you want.

Can I change a Symbol instance (text, image content, colors) or even remove an object from it? Yes, Gravit Designer’s Symbols are intuitive and will allow the user improve managing assets, without needing to create hundreds of Symbols to make a simple menu. You can simplly click and edit what you want in a symbol instance, all other unaltered styles will keep updating from the Master Symbol. If you want, you can always reset the symbol instance from one object or all the instance to the original state (right-click → Reset Instance).

What is an Anchor?

Anchoring is used to make responsive content and to control how your components will be scaled and positioned on the canvas.

Resizing a Symbol, that has elements with anchoring set inside.

Now that you known the basic of what each thing does, let’s jump to the action.

Creating a Symbol

Creating a Symbol is simple, just select the content that you want to become a Symbol, make a right-click and select Create Symbol or go to the Symbols tab and hit the Plus button.

Any object or group can become a new symbol.

Removing a Symbol

To remove a symbol you need go to the Symbols tab, select the desired Symbol and then click on the Delete icon.

When you delete a symbol in the Symbols tab, all other instances will be deleted, too.

Inserting a Symbol instance

To reuse a symbol, you can copy and paste it or switch to the Symbols tab and simply drag and drop it to the canvas.

In the Symbols library you will see a preview of all symbols that you have in the design.

Detaching a Symbol instance

If you want an instance to become a normal object, or even become a new symbol, you can detach it by making a right-click and selecting Detach Symbol Instance.

Detaching a instance to make a new symbol.

Symbols Instances tips & tricks

Keep in mind, that you don’t need to create a new symbol for a hover state or text change. Anything inside the instance can be removed or changed without the loss of other symbol characteristics.

Replacing a color:
Just click onthe desired element and pick a new color. It will just be applied to the selected instance and will not be propagated to its siblings.

You can easily switch switch between instances to replicate their changes.

Replacing an image:
For that, you just need to set it as a texture fill in your master symbol or have the image in it. Then, simply replace the image in the instance or click Choose Image… for the texture fill. This image will only appear in the current instance.

Texture fills can be used to replace images inside symbols.

Removing an object:
Select it and hit delete/backspace — the object will be displayed as invisible in the layer tree, which lets you return to the original state/make at any time and make it visible again.

Replacing a text:
There are no secret or hidden menus, simply double-click and start typing.

Playing around with text.

Returning to the original state:
All objects inside of a symbol have kind of a history. To go back to this initial state click on the Refresh icon in the layers panel or make a right-click and select Reset Instance.

You can rollback each item of your symbol separately.

Replacing an instance:
You can always switch between all available symbols or change to entirely different ones. Gravit Designer also supports nested symbols, which means that you can have a Symbol inside another Symbol (inside another Symbol, and so on). Being able to switch the instance lets you easily create simply variations of an instance, for example to exchange an icon.

Replacing a Symbol instance.

You can easily find the Master symbol by selecting (master) in the drop-down.

Make it responsive with anchoring

When you create a Symbol or a group, it will automatic come with an anchoring area in the inspector — from there it’s super-simple to make it responsive.

The anchoring system is intuitive, and to control it you have vertical and horizontal pins divided into two rows.

When opposite sides are selected, the object will stretch. If just one is selected, it will be pinned. If for both the center icon is selected, the object will be centered.

Keep in mind, that you can have different setups for vertical or horizontal pinning, which will work together to archieve the desired results.

To make your life easier when you have a lot of items that need to perform the same action, you can create a group and setup the anchors on it.

For groups, the behavior is a bit different, however. By default, they are set to “Group” in the respective drop-down in the inspector, which makes elements inside stretch automatically. The moment you set the anchoring for an element, it will switch to ”Frame” and all elements inside are pinned to the top-left by default.

Common Anchoring Setups

To refresh your mind and solve some anchoring puzzles here are the most common anchoring settings for UI design.

Pin to a corner without scaling:

Scaling and pinning to center:

I hope this tutorial was helpful and you folks have learned some new techniques today, that will help to speed up your design process, be more creative and, most of all, optimize your workflow with reusable components.

Stay tuned for more tutorials and articles about Gravit Designer on our blog and in the social media channels below.

And if you did some cool projects with Symbols and anchoring, don’t forget to share them with us. 😎

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Pablo Petzen

Written by

CEO / Co-founder at @searchbarorg - Looking for talent people that like amazing products and inovattive ideas to enhance the web experience.

Gravit Designer

The official blog of Gravit Designer, the design software made for everyone. Get it now on