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How To Draw on Google Docs: Step-by-step Guide


Google Docs is a hugely popular word processor from Google that has full web-based functionality. This allows for easy remote collaborations between multiple users while offering various ways to interact and share ideas with each other. Google Docs is also used by many students which is why it has a nifty drawing tool built right into it. This tool can be used to create custom drawings, infographics, graphs, charts, and much more. Here’s how you can make the most out of the draw tool in Google Docs. 

There are various ways in which you can approach a shape in Google Docs depending on your requirements and needs. Let’s take a look at few basic shapes and how you can use them to achieve some basic tasks in Google Docs. 

Can you draw on google docs?

Yes, Google has integrated Google Drawings into Google Docs which allows you to create elaborate infographics and illustrations within any document. However, there are some limitations to this integration. Firstly, this integration is not available to mobile users. So if you are looking to create illustrations on your mobile device, then you are out of luck. Secondly, despite the necessity, Drawings, does not support stylus or pen input yet.

This means that you can’t sketch your ideas or illustrate them with the help of a graphics tablet. This too has its own exceptions like the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, and the Surface book with the surface pen. Both these devices and similar one scan use the touch input from their styluses with the ‘Scribble’ tool to be able to sketch in Google Docs. You don’t get pressure sensitivity or other fancy features but it gets the job done when absolutely necessary. Now that you know about the limitations of creating drawings in Google Docs, here’s how you can get started. 

How to draw with your mouse in Google Docs

You can draw curved and skewed lines as well as scribble on your canvas using the line tool. Here’s how to do it. 

Insert a drawing in a document as you normally would. Now instead of selecting the line tool, hover over it and then click on the drop-down arrow that appears.

Now choose one of these options that best suit your drawing needs. 

  • Line: This will help you draw straight lines. Click from point A to point B to draw a line. 
  • Arrow: This option will help you draw arrows in straight lines. 
  • Elbow Connector: This option will help you draw arrows with a bent line connecting at two right angles. 
  • Curved Connector: This is another arrow type, this time using a curved line bent at two points instead of using right angles. 
  • Curve: As the name suggests, this option can help you draw custom curved lines on the screen. Click on the canvas to begin drawing a line and then click again to add a point of the curve. Now drag across the screen to shape your curve and click again to add a second curve. You can add multiple curves with a single click and then double click to stop drawing. 
  • Polyline: Polyline is an ideal way to draw polygons on the canvas. It is operated exactly like the curved line but instead of introducing curves with every single click, it instead introduces right angles. 
  • Scribble: As the name suggests, this tool allows you to draw freely using your mouse. Simply select scribble and hold down the left click to start drawing. 

Select Scribble.

Now, you can draw using your mouse. Sadly, you can’t use a stylus or pen and Google Docs doesn’t support them tools yet.

However, you can change the color of what you draw, and its size, line type, arrow, etc. stuff using the new set of icons that appear after you draw something. Be sure to customize what you draw with these 5 buttons.

Workaround for using a pen or stylus for drawing in Google Docs

Google Drawings is the feature used to add drawings in Google Docs. Drawings by default do not have support for stylus or graphic tablet inputs which makes it impossible to draw freehand in Google Docs. The only alternative left is to use the Scribble tool which only supports mouse input but gives you enough freedom to draw most basic shapes in freehand. If you are keen on using a stylus input then you will need to get an iPad Pro or a Surface tablet.

Any touchscreen desktop device that supports touch input can use the scribble tool to draw freehand on the screen using touch inputs. This workaround is not accurate but much better when compared to the traditional mouse input supported by Google Docs. 

Keep in mind that if you are on an iPad Pro, then you will need to use the desktop browser version of Google Docs for this workaround to work as the mobile app will not give you the option to add Drawings to your document. 

Note: Google has been working on adding Drawings to the iPad app for Google Docs and this can easily change in the near future.

How to add a drawing in Google Docs

Here’s how you can start a drawing in Google Docs. 

Open the desired document where you wish to add a drawing and click on ‘Insert’ in the toolbar. 

Click on ‘Drawing’. 

Now click and select ‘New’. 

Create a drawing and once you are done, click on ‘Save and Close’ in the top right corner. 

Note: The drawing you create will be automatically inserted at the location of your cursor. 

Drawing a line, shape/box, or adding an image, text box, etc.

While not as comprehensive as other image and graphical processors, Google Drawings manages to get the task done for almost all everyday tasks. If you are struggling to get started, then here are some helpful guides on some basic concepts when creating a drawing in Docs. 

How to draw a line in Google Docs

Click on ‘Insert’ in the toolbar then select ‘Drawing’ and click on ‘New’. 

Now click on the ‘Line’ tool at the top. 

Click and drag your mouse from point A to point B on the canvas to draw a line. 

And that’s it! You will now have drawn a line. 

How to draw a shape in Google Docs

You can draw various shapes in a Drawing in Google Docs using the guide below. 

Open a document where you wish to add a drawing and click on ‘Insert’ at the top. Now click on ‘Drawing’ and select ‘New’. 

Now click on the ‘Shapes’ tool at the top of your screen. 

Select the category of the shape you wish to add to your drawing. 

Now click and select the shape you wish to add. 

Click and drag on the canvas to determine the size of the shape that you are adding.

Once happy, let go of the left click to finalize the image. 

You will now have added the desired shape to a drawing in Google Docs. Remember, you can change the color, type, width, etc. of the shape you draw with the new buttons that appear right after you draw something in Google Docs (while that object is selected).

How to type inside a shape in a drawing in Google Docs

You can easily type inside a shape or an image while drawing by using the Text box tool. The text box tool allows you to create a custom-sized text box where you can add any text that you wish. This text can then be formatted according to your needs. Refer to the dedicated section for ‘Text box’ above to learn how to use this tool to the full extent of its capabilities. 

How to add a text box in Google Docs

Open the desired document and start inserting a drawing as instructed in the guide above. Once you are at the canvas, click on ‘Text box’ at the top of your screen. 

Click and drag on your canvas to create a text box. This is the box where you will add all your content. You can always resize it in the future once you’ve added the necessary text. 

The text box will be automatically created once you let go of the left click. Now type in the text you wish to add to your drawing. 

Resize the text box using one of the 9 anchors if needed. 

You will now have added text to your drawing in Google Docs.  

How to add an image in Google Docs

Open the desired document, click on ‘Insert’ at the top and select ‘Drawing’. Now select ‘New’ to add a new drawing. 

Click on the ‘Image’ icon in the toolbar. 

You can now add an image using the following methods. Select the one that best fits your needs by clicking on a tab at the top of your screen. 

  • Upload: Use an image from your local storage. 
  • By URL: Use an image URL from the internet to add your image. 
  • Your Albums: This option will allow you to add images stored in your Google Photos albums. 
  • Google Drive: You can add images stored in your Google Drive account using this option.
  • Search: You can use this option to add images using the Google Image search. Google will only show you images that have been marked for commercial use with modifications. 

Once you’ve selected and added your image using your preferred method, (in our case local storage) it will be automatically added to your drawing.

Click on ‘Save and close’ once you’re done editing to add it to your word document in Google Docs. 

And that’s it! The image will now be added to the document. 

How to edit images in Google Docs

Once you’ve added the desired image, use the guide below to perform basic editing as needed. 

  • Resize the image: You can now use the 8 anchor points around the image to resize and skew it according to your will.
  • Move the image: Simply click and drag the image around on your canvas. 
  • Rotate the image: Look for the blue dot outside the 8 anchor points around your image. Click on this dot and move your cursor to rotate your image. 
  • Add a border and change its properties: Use the 3 icons beside the crop tool to add a border to your image. You can also use these tools to change the border color, thickness, and style. 

You will now have added and edited an image to your drawing based on your requirements. 

How to draw on an image in Google Docs

To draw on an image in Google Docs, add an image to your canvas as instructed above. 

Once the image is added, you can essentially draw anything over it. You can use the scribble tool to sketch, add arrows, add shapes, add text and even layer more images on top of it!

Click and select the image and you will be presented with the border options for the current image in your toolbar. This way you can add a border to your image to help it stand out from the background as shown below. 

Once you’re done, click on ‘Save and close’ to add the image to your document. 

And that’s it! You should now be easily able to draw on top of any image in Google Docs. 

Change the size of your drawing in Google Docs

You can change the size of your drawing canvas in Google Docs easily. This can come in handy if you wish to print out documents that include your drawing. Use the guide below to resize your canvas. 

Once you’ve created your drawing, click on ‘Save and close’ in the top right corner. 

The drawing will now be added to the document. Use one of the options below to resize the image based on your requirements. 

Resize based on visual feedback

Click on one of the 8 anchor points around the image to resize it based on your visual feedback. You can also rotate the image by clicking on the blue dot outside the 8 anchor points around the image’s border. 

Resize to exact numerical values

Right-click on the image and then select ‘Image options’. 

Click on ‘Size and Rotation’ in the right sidebar. 

Now enter the width and height of your image in their respective fields. 

The image should now be automatically resized based on your given dimensions. 

Insert a drawing from Google Drive

Google Drawings is another nifty tool that allows you to create such drawings on a basic canvas independently without the need for a word document. These drawings are saved in your Google Drive. Use the guide below if you already have saved a drawing that you wish to add to the current document. 

Open the desired document and click on ‘Insert’ in the toolbar and click on ‘Drawing’.  

Click and select ‘From Drive’. 

You will now be shown your Google Drive folder. Navigate to the image you wish to add and click on it to select it. 

Once selected click on ‘Select’ at the bottom to add it to your current document. 

Now select what kind of image you wish to add using the option that best suits you. 

  • Link to source: Only editors for the current document will be able to make changes to the image. Collaborators will not be permitted to edit the added drawings. 
  • Insert unlinked: This will insert the entire image in the document giving anyone the ability to edit and change the added image. 

Once you have made your selection, click on ‘Insert’. 

And that’s it! You will now have added a drawing to your current document from Google Drive. 

How to create a drawing in Google Drive

You can also create a drawing directly in Google Drive. This is quite useful if you wish to create a drawing that is supposed to be shared with multiple users. Follow the guide below to create a drawing in Google Drive. 

Open Google Drive in your browser and click on ‘New’ in the top left corner. 

Now click on ‘More’ and select ‘Google Drawings’.

You will now be taken to a new tab with a new canvas where you can create the drawing that you have in mind. 

Sketching, Embedding, and drawing Diagrams on Google Docs

How to embed equations in Google Docs

Yes, Google Docs has a dedicated section for adding equations to your word documents. These equations are added as a text input which can then be formatted according to your existing text. However, if you wish equations to be their own entity in Docs then you can always use the text box in Drawings to create them. Follow the guide below to add equations as text to your document in Google Docs. 

Note: While you can edit most properties of an equation in this form, you won’t be able to change certain stylized elements including using tools like ‘Italics’. 

Open a document and place your cursor where you wish to add an equation. 

Click on ‘Insert’ at the top. 

Select ‘Equation’. 

Now enter your desired equation. Use the symbol categories at the top to add necessary variables to your equation.

Once you are done, simply hit enter to save your equation. 

And that’s it! You will now have added an equation to your document.  

Can you add Venn diagrams in Google Docs?

Venn Diagrams can be made using the drawing tool but they will not be accurate to your data. You can use the circle tool to create rough or estimative Venn diagrams in Google Docs. However, if you wish to produce accurate Venn diagrams with umpteen customizations, then we recommend using a third-party add-on like Lucidchart. Lucidchart is a long-standing service that offers you the ability to create infographics directly from your browser. The add-on works well for Google Docs and the service even has paid plans if you create infographics regularly. 

Can you sketch in Google Docs?

Unfortunately, Google Docs does not recognize inputs from any drawing or graphic tablets. The drawing capabilities in Docs have been introduced for basic use with mouse and keyboard to create basic but necessary graphics. In order to keep this feature feasible and available to everyone, Google has only made it compatible with mouse and keyboard inputs.

If you are still keen on sketching in Google Docs then you can use the ‘Scribble’ tool. This will allow you to free draw on your canvas using the mouse. It won’t be as accurate as a graphic tablet but can get the job done when you are desperate for some sketched-out drawings in Google Docs. 

Can you sketch a signature in Google Docs?

As mentioned above, sketching is not possible in Google Docs as the drawing feature does not support graphic tablet or drawing tablet inputs. However, the scribble tool allows you to freely draw anything on the canvas using the mouse which can be used to add your signature to any word document. It won’t be as accurate as a pen input but can be used to get the job done in emergencies. 

Can I use these tools to create infographics?

Yes, the drawing tools were added to Google Docs so that it was easy to add infographics to your word document. Initially, you were required to create your infographics and insert them as images, which introduced scaling problems, sizing issues, and even image compression.

With Drawings in Google docs, you can create comprehensive graphs, charts, and more to easily explain the concept at hand without compromising the visual quality of your images. Drawings also allow you to edit your graphics on the fly which is ideal if you wish to make last-minute changes. Traditionally this would be a huge problem as you would be required to create a new image altogether and then replace the existing one in your word document. 

We hope this guide helped you get familiar with the drawing tool in Google Docs. If you have any more questions or face any issues, feel free to reach out to us using the comments section below. 

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