How to Collaborately Create Drawings With Google Docs

Google Docs is one of the best online office suites available till date. You can create Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents directly from your browser and store them in your Google account. Later, you can edit or download these documents from any computer you want, and that too in various compatible formats.

Another great feature of Google Docs is the collaboration feature which allows you to invite multiple people to view or edit your documents. If you have a team or a small group of people and want to collaborate on a document, presentation – Google Docs is the easiest and most versatile tool to choose from.

But not many people know that Google Docs makes it very easy to create and collaborate on a drawing or diagram. This has several advantages:

1. You can invite a group of people to view your drawings and share ideas which can not be represented on a word document or a PowerPoint presentation.

2. You can collaborate with multiple people and create flow charts or network diagrams, this is again very useful when you want to decide the work order of your next project, the roles of different team members and so on.

In this article we will learn how you can create a drawing or graphical representation using Google Docs and collaborate with multiple people on the same drawing.

The Basics of Google Drawings

To use the drawing feature in Google Docs, go to docs.google.com and sign in with your Google account. Next, click the “Create New” dropdown menu and choose “Create a Drawing” as shown below:

Create Drawings in Google Docs

This will open a blank canvas page in a new browser tab where you can start adding objects, text items and create the drawing as you want. Here is how the canvas page looks:

GoogleDocs Drawing -Blank Canvas page

Using Templates: In case you want to use ready made templates for your drawing, you can choose the option “Create from Template”.

The Google Docs template gallery contains a wide range of user submitted templates, so it would be better to search for a template and see whether a design matches with your requirements.

GoogleDocs Drawing Templates

There are a whole bunch of templates out there – from UML diagrams to flow charts, from Network diagrams to sequences. If you are unable to find a suitable template for your drawing, create one from scratch.

In the canvas page – you will see a small toolbar with different buttons. The toolbar consists of the following main buttons:

  • The Select tool:  Allows you to select an item e.g image or shape.
  • The Text Box tool: Allows you to add textual content to your drawing.
  • The Zoom tool: Allows you to zoom within the canvas.
  • The line tool: Allows you to create a simple line.

Google Docs Drawing Basics

To use a tool,simply click the corresponding button from the toolbar and add the items to the drawing canvas. There are other buttons too, their usage is discussed in the following section.

Add Different Shapes in Your Google Docs Drawing

To add different shapes in your drawing, click the “Insert” button from the menu and hover your mouse cursor on the last option called “Shape”. You will now see more options ( just like Microsoft Word) – just select a shape and drag the cursor in the canvas to insert the shape in your drawing.

Google Docs Drawings - Adding Different Shapes

Once the shape is in place, you can select it using the select tool and resize it by dragging the cursor at any corner of the shape. As soon as you select the shape, you will notice new buttons on the toolbar, namely Fill color, Border Color, Border width and so on. You can use these buttons to customize the shape the way you want.

Google Docs Drawing Basics of Shapes

Add Images and Elements in Your Google Docs Drawing

To add an image in your drawing, click the small image icon and then choose the location of the image file. Here you have three options:

  • Choose an image from your computer.
  • Choose an image from a public URL.
  • Choose an image from Google image search.

Google Docs Drawing - Insert Images

Similarly, you can select other options in the insert menu to add different elements in your drawing. This includes adding rectangles, polygons, arcs, curve or an arrow.

Invite Other people to View or Collaborate on Your Drawing

This is the most interesting part. When you want multiple people to edit the same drawing, click the “Share” button at the right top of the browser window and select “Email editors”.

Google Docs Drawing - Invite other People

Then enter the email address of the person in the next window and you are done. The editor will then be able to edit the drawing in the same way as you edit, both the people would be able to communicate through a chat window and share ideas, while adding elements to the drawing.

Google Docs Drawing - Adding collaboration

You can also use the other options to either Email the drawing as an attachment or publish it to the web for public viewing.

Finally – Download or Print the Drawing

When the drawing is complete, click File and select the “Download As” option to download the drawing in your computer. The available formats are JPEG, PNG, SVG and PDF.

Google Docs Drawing Download
You can also print a copy of the drawing on paper using the “print” option as shown above.

All in all, Google Docs Drawings is a really fun and useful tool to tinker with. It’s a great way to share ideas which can’t be penned on paper. College students and project members can use it for laying out ideas, determining a flow chart, planning, graphical representation and  so on.

Have you ever used a collaborative drawing tool? What do you recommend? Let’s hear your ideas in the comments.