June 21, 2024

How to Customize Shapes & Connectors in Gliffy

Getting Started

Most diagrams are made up primarily of two elements: shapes and connectors. Knowing how to manipulate these elements effectively will help you create cleaner, more professional-looking diagrams that your audience can understand at a glance.

If you’re new to Gliffy or need a refresher, here’s everything you need to know about the various ways you can customize shapes and connectors in Gliffy to make your diagrams your own. 

Back to top

Customizing Shapes in Gliffy

Many shape properties can be edited in the shape properties window that appears when you select a shape. As you customize shapes, you’ll need to know all the options you have in that window, plus a few other ways to manipulate shapes on the diagram canvas.

Using the Shape Properties Window

Many shape properties can be customized in the shape properties window, which you can access by selecting any shape and selecting the square icon that appears.

💡 Did you know you can edit multiple shapes at once? Just hold down the shift key, select each of the shapes you want to edit, and then open the shape properties window. 

Gliffy shape properties window

Here’s what you can do with the icons in the shape properties window from left to right:

  • Fill color: Customize the color of the fill inside your shape. 
  • Border color: Customize the color of the shape’s border, if it has one. 
  • Border weight: Adjust the line weight of the shape’s border from 0 to 7 pixels, with 0 being no border.
  • Border style: Set your border style to a solid line or one of four varieties of dashed line. 
  • Gradient: Add a color gradient between white at the top and your selected shape color at the bottom. 
  • Drop shadow: Add a drop shadow to the lower right of your shape. 
  • Transparency: Adjust the opacity of your shape from 100% (opaque) to 5% (nearly transparent).

Below this row of icons, there is a series of entry fields which allows you to set your shape’s location, size, and orientation. You can also edit these properties by selecting a shape and dragging or rotating the shape itself or the square adjusters on its bounding box, but these entry fields help if you want your measurements to be more specific.

  • X & Y: These entry fields determine where on the X (horizontal) and Y (vertical) axis your shape is positioned, with 0 and 0 being the top left corner of the canvas. The values entered here determine where the top left corner of the bounding box that contains your shape will fall. So, if you’re adjusting an oval shape, and you enter 0 for X and 0 for Y, the top left corner of the rectangle that encloses that oval will be in the very top left corner of the canvas. 
  • W & H: These entry fields determine how many pixels wide and high your shape will be. As with X and Y, these fields describe the bounding box that wraps your shape.
  • Orientation: This entry field allows you to rotate your shape from anywhere between 0 and 359º.

Finally, you can tick the boxes on the right to lock either the shape’s aspect ratio so its width and height remain constant relative to each other, or lock the shape altogether so all of its properties, including position, are locked against change.

How to Flip & Mirror Shapes

Select a shape, then right-click. In the menu that appears, select “Flip horizontal” or “Flip vertical” to flip your shape.

Shape editing menu in Gliffy

How to Move Shapes to Front or Back

Select a shape, then right-click. In the menu that appears, select either “Bring to front,” which will put your shape in front of all the other shapes in the diagram, or “Send to back,” which puts the shape behind the other shapes in the diagram.

How to Align & Distribute Shapes

First, you will need to group shapes together by holding shift and selecting all the shapes you want to align or distribute. Then, right-click and you will see different options to align and distribute the grouped shapes.

This is helpful if you want to keep shapes perfectly lined up without relying on the eye test.

Properties window for a group of shapes

How to Copy Shape Styles

There are two ways to copy shape styles in Gliffy. The first is to select a shape, right-click, and select “Copy Style” from the menu that appears.

The second way is to use the eyedropper tool, which you’ll find next to the text tool. When you click the eyedropper tool, it will copy the style of the shape you have currently selected. When you select any other shape it will apply all the styles that were copied, including fonts, colors, gradients, opacity, and border types.

You can also use either of these methods to copy connector styles.

Back to top

Customizing Connectors in Gliffy

Just like shapes, connectors also have a properties window that allows you to change many elements of their appearance. 

Using the Connector Properties Window

Gliffy connector properties window
  • Arrow begin / end: Choose what style of arrow, if any, you want your line to have on either end. You can select between four different styles of arrow or none.
  • Line color: Customize the color of the line.
  • Line weight: Adjust the line weight from 1 to 7 pixels.
  • Line style: Set your line to be solid or one of four varieties of dashed line.
  • Line type: From super straight to super curvy, select the type of connector that suits your diagram. Options are direct from end-to-end with no angles, only right angles, rounded right angles, or a more sinuous line with gradual curves.
  • Hop type: Select how you want your line to appear when it crosses over another line.

You can adjust the length, layout, or position of a connector by selecting it and manipulating either the entire connector or the circular adjusters that control its endpoints and each leg.

More Ways to Customize Connectors

Visit our blog on connector tips and tricks to learn even more ways to customize the connectors that bring together all the objects in your diagram. 

Back to top

Use Your Shape and Connector Skills

Ready to start using your shape and connector skills? If you haven’t added Gliffy to your Confluence space yet, make sure to start your free 30-day evaluation.


Back to top