Let's move on to the practical part. As you may have guessed, we will use Figma. First, let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of this graphic editor, and then let's start learning how to create a design with it.
Let's start with the basics. Today we will learn how to draw a rectangle, a line, an arrow, and a text box. This will be enough to create task flows of all kinds and simple pages.
At the end of the lesson, as usual, you will find many practical tasks to consolidate the material.
- Why choose Figma?
- How do I get started? Registration
- An overview of the Figma interface. Main menu. Toolbar. Workspace. Properties panel. Layers panel
- Draw a rectangle
- Selecting, moving and resizing objects
- Navigation. Moving around the workspace. Scale control. Focus on the object
- Set object properties. position and size. How to fix proportions. Angle of rotation. Rounding corners. Fill color. Stroke options.
- Color picker. Copying and pasting a color value
- Adding text. Set the borders of the text block. Text Options
- Drawing a line and an arrow
- Why layers are needed. Draw order
- Useful commands. Undo recent actions. Make a duplicate. Delete object. Selecting multiple objects at once
Why choose Figma?
This editor is great in every way, and we don't choose it because of its simplicity or free access. He's really powerful. It's incredible, but some features are better implemented than in the paid Sketch. Here are just a few of them: color styles, auto layout. Let's take a look at the benefits Figma has:
- Free - Most features are free, although there are paid plans for larger teams and projects. I have been working with Figma for more than a year and I can assure you that you will have enough of it without investing a dime. Everything a beginner needs is included;
- Easy to learn - sometimes begin with Photoshop, which is overly complex and overloaded with unnecessary features for the "dummies". We will do the wiser thing: we will master Figma, and then return to Photoshop, which will be many times easier;
- Undemanding to a computer - this graphics editor will work on any laptop, even the weakest one. The main thing is that the browser would start. It also doesn't matter which operating system you use (Windows, MacOS or Linux);
- Works in the browser - you don't even need to install anything to get started. Registered and working. Easy to show to customers. The desktop version is a little faster on huge projects, supports local fonts, but in general, you can start with the browser version, which we will do;
- All the features you need and more - Provides a wide range of possibilities from a vector editor to creating an interactive prototype that you can instantly test on your smartphone (looks like a real application), collaborative design editing and much more. All this we have to study in the future.
How to start?
To get started, you need to register at Figma using a desktop or laptop by launching the browser. A smartphone is not suitable as it can only view previously created designs. You need a working email. It is used as a login.
Go to the Figma website — go to this link and immediately add it to your browser bookmarks. After registering and logging in, we will use this bookmark to launch Figma like a normal application. We are greeted with an animation that shows one of the key benefits of Figma - the ability to co-edit a file at the same time (you may have come across a similar feature in Google Docs). Therefore, multi-colored cursors with names are visible:
Go to the registration form - for this, search and click on the button Sign up (register) on the main page in the upper right corner:
Fill out the first step of the registration form — enter your email address in the Email field. Create a password and enter it in the Password field. Email and password can be changed later if needed. Press the Create account button and proceed to the next step. There are other ways to register (for example, using a Google account), but they are not so universal;
Fill out the second step of the registration form — enter your first name (possibly with a surname) in the Your name field in English. This name will be visible to other project members, such as your customer. It will always be displayed in the upper right corner of the running application (more precisely, the first letter). By the way, if you do not specify a name, it will be automatically generated from the email address. The name can be changed later. Next, in the drop-down menu What kind of work do you do?, specify Design. If you would like to receive news about Figma by email, then check the box next to I agree to join Figma's mailing list. But you can always read the latest updates on the blog. Press the button Create account;
Welcome! Registration is almost complete - Figma welcomes us and offers to enter the name of our team. But since we are working alone, we press Do this later;
Close tooltips - Figma is very friendly and immediately introduces us to its interface with tooltips. These hints are very useful for designers who are already familiar with other graphics editors. It also provides links to documentation. But for us they are useless, since we know absolutely nothing. Therefore, click on the cross in the corner and close them;
That's it! - Figma is ready to go. Expand the browser to full screen to get the most usable space. There are a few more nuances before we start;
Confirm email address (email) - you know that in most services you need to confirm your email address in case you, for example, you'll forget your password. Figma is no exception. We check the mail and look for an email with the subject name Please confirm your email. If not found, then check the spam folder. If the letter ended up there, then we note that it is not spam. In Gmail, for example, there is a special Report not spam button for this when you open an email that is in spam. This is a very important point, because in the future, when the customer leaves comments on your design, Figma will send a notification letter about this. And you need to respond to customer comments as quickly as possible. So, open the letter and press the button Confirm your email:
After clicking, we will be redirected to a Figma page with recently edited projects (files). Figma stores all your projects on a remote server (also called "in the cloud"). This means that you do not need to save anything on your computer, everything is done automatically. At the top of the page, you will see a notification that your email has been confirmed You have successfully confirmed your email address. It will disappear after a few seconds. On the right you can see images of your projects. See, Figma has added a few for reference. Our empty project is at the very top. Click on it and return to the editor.
If you happen to land on this page again, just select your project by clicking on it. It is only now that it looks like a checkerboard, because it is completely empty. And now let's start exploring the Figma interface.
- Main menu - consists of a list of commands, both global (not related to the project we are currently working with) and contextual, which are applied, for example, to the selected object. Let's look at a couple of examples. Global command: go to the list of projects (files). Local command: delete selected object. We will consider all commands separately in all details. For now, you just need to know that when you click on this button, a huge menu drops out with commands that are executed when you click on them;
- Toolbar - each icon on the toolbar represents a separate tool. To select it, we click on the icon and it turns blue, signaling that everything is ready to go. After choosing a tool, it is used on the workspace (next point). For example, there is a tool for drawing rectangles. Today we will get acquainted with some very useful instances;
- Workspace (canvas) - all the magic happens here. Here we draw shapes using tools. Select primitives to change their properties (for example, color) in the properties panel (next item);
- Properties panel - each type of object has its own unique set of properties. For example, a rectangle has a size, a position, and a color. The text has, in addition to the properties of the rectangle, line spacing and alignment (left, right, center). Depending on the selected object, the panel may change beyond recognition;
- Layers panel - a list of all created objects is stored here. In addition, here we determine in what order to show them (more on that later). From the layers panel, you can select objects, as on the workspace. This is just another way to select an object in order to edit it or change its properties.
I know it sounds complicated, but in essence, we get this sequence of actions when we create a design:
- Selecting a tool on the toolbar;
- Using a tool - in the workspace. For example, add a rectangle or an inscription;
- Select an already existing object using the workspace or the layers panel;
- Changing the selected one — using the properties panel (changing location, size, color) or using the context command of the main menu (make a copy);
- Changing the drawing order of objects - using the layers panel;
You repeat each of these points hundreds of times in different sequences to achieve the desired result. Now let's move on to practice and everything will become clearer.
Drawing a rectangle
Rectangle is a very commonly used primitive. It can be used to draw not only rectangles, squares, but even circles. To draw, we perform the following sequence:
- Select the Rectangle tool - click on the rectangle icon on the toolbar. Or press the R key on the keyboard. The button should be highlighted in blue;
- Set the starting point — to do this, click and hold the left mouse button anywhere in the workspace to set the "beginning" of the rectangle. Do not release the left mouse button;
- Set dimensions - move the mouse in any direction with left button held down - voila - a rectangle starts to appear;
- Set end point - now release the left mouse button to finally set the dimensions of the shape. Done!
This is what it looks like in action (to expand the video to full screen, use the second button at the bottom right of the player):
Let's analyze what happened. During and after the rectangle is drawn, you will notice that it has a blue border - this means that the object is selected. This is called bounding box (read bounding box), which means bounding box. Below it is the size of the object in pixels - we talked about them in previous lesson.
Properties panel on the right instantly adjusted to the selected rectangle. The following options appeared:
- X – position of the object along the X axis (horizontally). The origin of coordinates passes at the upper left point (now we will move the rectangle and you will understand everything);
- Y – position of the object along the Y axis (vertically) ;
- W – width (read call) or object width;
- H – height (read hite) or object height.
All of these properties are specified in pixels. To change one of them, just click on it and enter a new number from the keyboard, then press Enter. The object will respond instantly.
In the layers panel, the line "Rectangle 1" has appeared on the left with a rectangle icon. When a primitive is created, a new layer is automatically created for it. It serves to tell the graphics editor in what order to draw the shapes. It doesn't make any sense for now, but when there are a lot of objects, I will show the usefulness of layers with an example.
Draw two more rectangles yourself. Note that each time you need to select the rectangle tool again, as it resets after use. Also, after each new shape, a new line appears in the layers panel.
Selecting, moving and resizing objects
First make sure you have selected the Move tool (pronounced move), which means move. The icon looks like a cursor and is located to the right of the main menu button. For a shortcut, you can press the V button. Next:
- To select an object, just click on it in the workspace. You can also click on the layer name in the left pane. With each selection, the properties panel and layers panel are updated. To remove the selection, click on the empty space of the workspace or layers panel;
- At the corners of the selected object there are white squares that you can use to resize. To do this, move the cursor over the square, hold down the left mouse button and move it. Release the left mouse button to apply the new size;
- To move an object, hover over it, hold down the left mouse button and hold down the mouse to move it. At this point, the object will be selected and will chase the mouse until you release the left button.
Training on rectangles:
During moving and resizing, the corresponding options on the property bar change. But these are just the simplest ways to interact with shapes. There are several more not so obvious tricks, but working with them is much more efficient:
- If you hold down the Shift button before moving, the object will move strictly vertically or horizontally, depending on where you move the cursor after holding down the left mouse button;
- It is possible to resize an object by drag on one of its faces rather than a corner to change just the height or just the width;
- To maintain proportions, while resizing an object, hold down the Shift button. In this case, the aspect ratio will be preserved and the square, for example, will remain a square;
- You can fine-tune the shape's position with the help of arrow-keys on your keyboard. One click will move the selected object one pixel in the corresponding direction. To increase the step to 10 pixels, you need to hold down the Shift key while clicking on the arrow. You can also hold down the arrows to get continuous movement.
There are other tricks, but for now this will be enough for comfortable work. Try out new ways to manipulate objects:
The space you see in the workspace is only a small part of it. Imagine that a video camera is pointed at a huge canvas. You can only observe what the lens is focused on. Of course, you can choose a comfortable position and even get closer to see the details; or step back to appreciate the design as a whole. Let's get acquainted with new tricks for easy project navigation:
- To move the camera hold the spacebar while holding down the left mouse button and move the cursor in the desired direction. Objects on the stage will start moving according to the new camera position. As you can see, there is a lot of empty space around. During this manipulation, the cursor will take on the image of a hand, suggesting that it is in a different mode. Instead of the analogy with the camera, you can also imagine that in this way we move the canvas on which the shapes are drawn;
- The current value of the camera scale is shown in the upper right corner. So, for example, 100% means that we all see 1 to 1, that is, in full size. 200% means everything is doubled. 25% - everything is quadrupled. To zoom in, press the + (plus) button. To zoom out, press the - (minus) button. It is even more convenient to use the mouse scroll wheel. If you have Windows, then just twist it to zoom in/out the camera. On MacOs, you still need to hold down the Command button;
- To quickly reset the zoom to 100%, press the key combination Shift + 0. If you first select a layer in the panel on the left by clicking on it, then the specified combination will move the camera in such a way that the content will be in the center of the workspace. This is useful when you have lost sight of the object you need and want to focus on it;
These three tricks allow you to quickly navigate in space:
- Position and size — after clicking on the field, you can increase/decrease its value in increments of one using the up/down arrow buttons. To increase the step to 10, hold down Shift. It is also worth noting that simple arithmetic operations work in these fields. For example, you can add a number to the current value by typing +8 and pressing Enter. Subtraction, multiplication and division operations are also supported. You can press Tab to quickly move to the next property. To go to the previous press Shift + Tab;
- Fix aspect ratio - allows you to maintain aspect ratio when changing the width or height through the property fields;
- Rotation angle – allows you to rotate an object by an arbitrary angle;
- Corner rounding — set the rounding radius for all corners;
- Fill color — set the color of the rectangle. By clicking, a window will appear, after which you need to select the appropriate color and its saturation. Next, click on the cross in the upper right corner of the window or anywhere outside the window to save the changes;
- Add Stroke — add a stroke effect along the outline of the shape. After activation, new settings will appear;
- Stroke color – on click, the same window will appear as for the fill color;
- Stroke thickness — specify the line thickness;
- Remove stroke - if you no longer need it.
Этих свойств вам хватит с головой. В следующих уроках будем знакомиться более тщательно. А теперь посмотрим, как это можно использовать. В частности, наибольший интерес для нас представляет возможность задать цвет:
Let's take a closer look at the color selection window. It allows you to very flexibly adjust its hue, saturation and even transparency. In addition, each color has its own exact value, which can be copied and pasted into the fill or stroke color of another object.
To do this, click on the field with the color value, select it, press the right mouse button and select Copy (copy). Next, select the object to which we want to apply the copied color, click on its fill color or stroke color field, select the entire value, press the right mouse button, select Paste (paste) and press. It is much faster to use combinations Command + C, Command + V for MacOs and Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V for Windows.
There are even faster tricks for copying and pasting colors, but more on that in the next tutorial. In the meantime, we are mastering the methods shown.
It's easy. First select the Text tool from the toolbar. Its icon looks like a capital letter T. Or use the T hotkey. Next, we perform the following sequence of actions:
- Set the borders of the text block - this is done in the same way as creating a rectangle. These borders indicate where the text will automatically wrap to a new line if there is not enough width. In addition, they set the frames relative to which the text will be aligned;
- Enter text - after creating the borders of the text block, the blinking caret will hint that, in fact, it's time to enter text. To save our text, press Escape;
- Change the appearance of the text - now we can set the font, color, size, vertical and horizontal alignment. Alignment allows you to specify which edge to place the text on (left, right, center). All these options are on the properties panel. Make sure the text block is selected.
The whole process is shown in the video below. Separate lessons will be devoted to working with text, this is a very voluminous topic.
Draw a line and an arrow
And the last pair of primitives for today. The creation process is also very similar to a rectangle, and we have already considered all the important properties. To select the tool Line (line) or Arrow (arrow), you must first click on the arrow next to the rectangle icon, and then select the desired tool from the drop-down menu. There are also hotkeys for quick activation: Line - L, Arrow - Shift + L. Watch the video and try it yourself:
There is one useful trick. If you hold down Shift while creating a line or arrow, the shape will be drawn at an angle that is a multiple of 45 degrees.
What are layers for?
Let's draw an analogy with the real world to understand the concept of layers. Imagine that you have several A4 files. The same transparent files into which office paper is inserted. So, in each of these files we insert one figure cut out of colored cardboard (circle, rectangle, and so on). We got several shapes in transparent files. Now paste them into a folder and turn all the files over on one side. Now you can see that some shapes overlap with others. In this analogy, a folder is a layer panel, a file is a layer, and a shape is a primitive within a layer. Let's see why we need layers in Figma:
Organize and group objects - in the next lessons we will learn how to create groups and frames that allow you to collapse several layers with primitives into one. Layers can be renamed, which makes it possible to combine them in a meaningful way (for example, buttons, lists, windows, screens, etc.). In addition, groups and frames can be nested within each other, creating entire hierarchies. All these features allow you to quickly and conveniently work with very large projects. Continuing the analogy with the real world, imagine that several cardboard shapes can be inserted into a transparent file;
Give the ability to select and focus on an object - in addition, there is a search by name in the layers panel;
Determine the drawing sequence – the layers of the panel of the same name are arranged one after the other in a list from top to bottom. The topmost layer will always be drawn first, and the bottommost layer will always be drawn last. The situation is the same with files, the figures in the upper files overlap the lower ones.
Look at the illustrative example below. To change the drawing order, just drag the layer in the left panel down or up. Imagine we rearrange the files in a folder above or below to get the same effect.
Now let's try to define a layer definition in Figma. Layer is an abstract object with a name that displays the primitive (shape) placed in it according to the rendering depth. Layers can be combined into groups, but more on that in the next lesson.
- Undo recent actions - sometimes you can do something by negligence and you need to go back in time a few actions back. To do this, press Command + Z on MacOs or Ctrl + Z on Windows. You can execute several times until you roll back to the desired state;
- Duplicate an object — select the desired object and press Command + D in MacOs or Ctrl + >D on Windows. The copy will appear in the same place as the original and will be selected. You can immediately start working with it, for example, move it with arrows, which is very convenient;
- Delete an object — select the required object and press Delete. It will immediately disappear from the workspace and the layers panel;
- Select several objects at once — hold down the left mouse button and drag the course in any direction so that several objects fall into the frame that appears. Next, release the left mouse button and have several selected objects. What can be done with them now? You can move in bulk, as a single object, or resize. If the objects are of the same kind, then you can change the properties for all at once.
- Choose one site and try to render its main page as close as possible (the first screen is enough) using the tools in this tutorial. Try to choose similar colors, sizes, block proportions, fonts. Send links to images of drawn screens. You can take a photo with your smartphone if you don't know how to take a screenshot. Write what difficulties you encountered;
Draw one icon from each row below using the tools you learned. You must be well versed in the properties of primitives to complete this assignment. No need to try to repeat the icons one to one;
- Draw one wireflow from the previous lesson of your choice;
- A task of increased difficulty (optional). Draw two other sites. Draw other icons.
If you can't complete a task, reread the article and try again. If it does not work at all, write in the comments or direct. Remember, there is a lot of work concentrated here, do not expect to do everything in one evening.
The first practical lesson is coming to an end. You have learned the very minimum, which we will gradually increase. In the future, we are waiting for a few more parts on the basics of Figma, and only then we will return to design theory.
Be sure to do all your homework. Creation and manipulation of primitives, as well as navigation should be done by you at the level of reflexes (without thinking). This will come with time and practice.
There is a lot of information, so reread the lesson in a few days so you don't forget anything.
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