Image by: Sally Peterson

Tutorial donated by Mike Sauer

Create Labels


This tutorial introduces Draw for making small labels. We cover creating a new document, creating Draw objects and changing their properties, and copying and pasting. The result will be 20 labels with a gold appearance and a brick border.

Introduction Draw is a vector-based drawing program rather than a raster-based program. This means Draw is created of distinct objects that can individually be selected and manipulated. In contrast, raster-based programs, like MS Paint or the Gimp, store pixels. In a vector-based program, a line is defined by as a starting point, an ending point, and a color. You can change the color and other properties after creating the line. In contrast, a line in a raster-based program is simply a series of pixels and cannot readily be changed once created.

Objects are anything created in a drawing. Objects have position, orientation, color properties, etc. Several objects can be grouped together and the group can be relocated, scaled, etc.

Many objects can have a text label as well. By default, these text labels are centered vertically and horizontally within the object. The text can have different color, position, font, and size properties.

Creating Labels

Learn by Example: We are going to create a small drawing and repeat it twenty times to make labels. These are labels for home-brew beer bottles. I want each label to be 1.5”x2.5”.

  1. Click File > New> Drawing. (A new drawing window appears with the "Drawing" toolbar at the bottom.)

  1. Select the Rectangle icon on the Drawing tool bar:

  2. On the canvas, click in the upper middle of the screen and drag down and to the right. This will create a box. Don’t worry about the exact position or dimensions—we will fix those shortly.

  1. Right-click in the rectangle. In the menu, click Position and Size. (The "Position and Size" dialog box appears. (You can also click "Format > Position and Size" or F4 to open the "Position and Size" window. Note: A rectangle is created. The rectangle can be manipulated with the mouse but it is more difficult to control the position and size.)

  2. Click the in the dialog box to the right of Position X. Select 0.00 (if it is not already selected). Repeat for Position Y. ("Position" is relative to the upper left-hand corner of the printable area of the page.) (You can also highlight the current value and type in the new value.)

  3. Click in the dialog boxes to the right of Width and Height. Click the to set the Width to 1.5” and the Height to 2.5”. (You can also highlight the number and type the new number in the dialog box.) Click OK. (A basic blue rectangle appears.)

  1. Right-click in the rectangle. Click Area. (The Area dialog box appears.) Click the Bitmaps tab, select Brownstone. Click OK. (The rectangle area changes from pale blue to a rock or brick pattern.)

  1. Select the Rectangle icon from the drawing tool bar and create a second rectangle in the center of the page. (There are now two rectangles on the page.)

  2. Right-click in the Rectangle. Click Position and Size (or press F4 to bring up the "Position and Size" window.) To center the second rectangle over the first with 1/10th of an inch smaller on all sizes, set the Position X to 0.1” and the Position Y to 0.1”.

  3. To make the second rectangle smaller on each side by 0.1", click the to set the Width to 1.3” and the Height to 2.3”. Click OK.

  1. Right-click in the Rectangle and select Area. Select the Gradients tab. Select linear yellow/brown. Click OK. (You should see a golden box with brick trim.)

Adding Text

  1. Click View > Zoom or click the Zoom icon on your toolbar. (The Zoom dialog box appears.) Select the Optimal radio button and press OK.

  1. Click in the golden box to select the inner rectangle. Press F2 and enter some text, India <enter> Pale <enter> Ale and then press the Escape key. (Note: The "Line and Filling" toolbar changes to the "Text Formatting" toolbar when you press F2. If you accidentally click inside the rectangle and the "Text Formatting toolbar changes back to the 'Line and Filling" toolbar, just press F2 again.)

  1. With the inner box still selected, Choose a font and a font size which nicely fills the area. I chose Arial Black at 32 points.

  2. I’d like to know when this brew was bottled, so I’ll add another line of text. Press F2 (Your cursor is now inside the rectangle and the "Line and Filling Toolbar" changes to the "Text Formatting Toolbar".) Press Enter. Type Bottled 4/10/05. However, this is too large. Let’s select only this newly typed line of text. Hold down the Shift key and tap the left arrow until this entire line is selected. Change the font size to something which fits nicely on the label. I chose font size of 10, which happened to work for this label. Press the Escape key to exit the label.


OK, that is one label, let's make a bunch of them.

  1. First we’ll zoom out a bit. View > Zoom..., select Entire Page, and click OK. Now, we’ll need to make sure we have the Select tool icon chosen in the Drawing toolbar:

  2. Select both boxes. (Left-click in the center of the canvas and drag up and to the left. As you drag, a ‘crawling ants’ dotted line box covers the area your mouse covers, selecting all objects under it.)

  3. Group the objects together. Click Modify (on the Menu Bar at the top of your screen.) Click the Group icon (or press Alt+Ctrl+Shift+G) to group all the objects into one new object. (This new object can be cut, copied, pasted, stretched, resized, or otherwise changed like most other objects.)

  4. Now we’ll copy this one and paste one. Right-click in the label and select Copy. Right-click in the label again and select Paste (there are now two labels at the same position). To reposition the top label click in the label and click Position and Size. (If the menu does not appear with "Position and Size" as a choice, click outside the label and then right-click in the label or press F4 to bring up the "Position and Size" window.) I want there to be 0.1 inch between each, so I set the Position X to 1.6. Repeat the procedure, positioning each at 1.6” further to the right. (at 1.6”, 3.2”, 4.8”, and 6.4”).

  1. Now we want to copy these down the page. Select all five labels, and again click the Copy icon (or CTRL C). Now click the Paste icon (or CTRL V) to paste all five new labels.

  2. These are layered over the original five, we need to move them down. Press F4 to access the Position and Size dialog box. Set the Position Y to 0.1” greater than the height of the labels, or 2.6”. Repeat at 5.2” and 7.8”.

  3. Now you have twenty labels. Print three copies, and affix to your beer bottles.


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Last modified: 2009-03-06
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution2.5 License.