Graphic design is all about precision. Whether it’s perfectly centering a book title, aligning vector graphics, or creating balance between a multitude of layers, it takes more than just “eye-balling it” to get precise placement. That’s why professional designers rely on alignment tools to help them get the job done.
Whatever kind of project you’re working on, you’ll find all the alignment tool options you need in BeFunky! From snap lines and pixel distances to guides, we’re about to unpack everything you need to know about how and when to use these alignment tools to your benefit. That way, you’ll never have to guess when it comes to layer placement and composition.
If you’ve never heard the term before, snap lines refer to the lines that appear when you’re moving layers around your design canvas. For example, when you’re trying to perfectly center a layer in BeFunky, a cross of snap lines appears to indicate when your layer is dead center on the background canvas (like the picture shown above). Here’s everything you need to know about how and when to use snap lines:
Snap Lines For Scaling Graphics
Resizing (or scaling) a layer is as simple as clicking and dragging the blue circles around it. Now, when you’re trying to perfectly scale the layer to match the size or coordinates of other layers, snap lines will appear when you’ve got things perfectly aligned.
That means no more guessing whether or not your layers match up size-wise in the scaling process!
Snap Gap Indicator
When you’re moving multiple layers around your design canvas, you may run into instances where you need a layer equal distance between those other layers. In the past, this would have been a guessing game, but now when you’re moving a layer in between other layers, a purple snap gap will appear to show you when you’ve achieved equal distance.
Not only this, but if you enable Display Distances (which we'll talk about below), the snap gap will also show the exact amount of pixels between those layers, indicated by purple numbers in the middle of the snap gaps. This way, you can be more meticulous in your layer placement than ever.
Using Display Distances
Working in tandem with snap lines, Display Distances show the exact pixel measurement between layers and their relation to the canvas edges. They can only be enabled when you have Snapping enabled, and here’s everything you need to know about working with them:
Precise Pixel Measurements
Any time the blue and purple snap lines appear, it means you’ve aligned your layers in some way. That could mean the edges line up between layers or the design canvas itself. You’ll now notice that if you enable Display Distances, numbers appear along with the snap lines to show the pixel distance between all of the coordinates.
Just like building anything, measurements are ultra-important in creating balanced graphic designs. With the new displayed pixel distances, you can rest assured that all of your design elements (whether it be textboxes, graphics, or image layers) are placed in perfect harmony.
Speaking of precise pixel measurements, there are a few keyboard shortcuts you'll want to know about when it comes to perfectly placing your layers. First, by selecting any layer and holding down the Option (or Alt) key on your keyboard, you'll be able to see all of the pixel distances that are directly related to your layer. Keep in mind that you'll need to make sure Display Distances is enabled (instructions on that below) for the Option key shortcut.
Second, any time you've got a layer selected and want to reposition it in the tiniest increments possible, simply use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it up, down, left, or right.
Sometimes it’s helpful to make yourself a design blueprint before placing your layers, and that’s where Guides come in handy. With Guides, you’re able to set horizontal and vertical lines at specific pixel marks to help you align layers, set margins, and create composition! Here’s everything you need to know about working with Guides:
Setting Guides for Margins and Safe Areas
If you’re working on a design that requires a margin or safe area, you can now set and lock the specific dimensions before you start your design. That way, the Guides will ensure that you don’t waste any time designing outside of the limits. To set a new Guide, click on any area of the ruler edges and drag with your mouse until you’ve got it in the perfect place. Notice that you’re able to see the pixel distance between the Guide line and either edge of the canvas.
Any time you click on a new area of the ruler, a new Guide will appear. You can right click to Remove Guides, and click the Lock button where the ruler intersects to lock and unlock the Guides.
When your Guides are locked, you can design without worrying about accidentally shifting them in the process.
Creating Composition Grids
One of the easiest and most common composition grids is the Rule of Thirds, where the template is divided into three rows and three columns to create nine equal sections. Following the Rule of Thirds, the most important design elements are placed at a guide intersection, while the supporting design elements are placed within a few of the sections.
You can make your own Rule of Thirds grid by calculating the pixel markers to set your Guide lines, locking them, and creating your design with the grid in mind!
Whenever you’re finished with a design, or simply need to clear the Guides, press the X button in the top right corner of the canvas to make them disappear.
Creating Guides for Saved Projects
Even if you run out of time designing and need to save your work as a project, Guides can be saved in your project files too! That means you don’t have to recreate them every time you reload your project file. Simply set the Guide, lock them, and click the Save As Project option in the Save menu at the top of the page.
Follow the prompts to store your saved project in BeFunky or as a .BFD file on your Computer. Whenever you revisit your saved project, the Guides you set will be there to help you pick up right where you left off.
How to Manage Alignment Tools
These new alignment tools are amazing for design, but what happens if you find them distracting? You now have total control over whether or not snap lines, pixel distances, and/or guides are displayed, so if you ever find yourself wanting to turn them off, simply click on the Alignment icon in the left side of the bottom toolbar.
This will bring up an Alignment menu where you can enable and disable Snapping and Display Distances. Enabling Snapping will allow you to see the snap lines as you design with layers. Enabling Display Distances will allow you to see the pixel distance numbers in addition to the snap lines. And enabling Guides will show a ruler border and give you the ability to set guide lines on your design. Feel free to adjust these settings to your liking at any point in your creative process.
We’re so excited for you to be able to design with freedom and precision! These alignment options are going to help you up your creative game for sure. Whether you’re editing a photo, creating a collage, or designing anything with layers, you’ll have the guidance of these improved alignment tools to make you feel a whole lot more confident!