How to Create an Illustration in Google Docs

Google Docs is a robust word processing application that can easily stand out from competing programs. With so many text editing tools constantly being added, you might not know that one of the main features of Google Docs is its drawing tools for creating simple designs to accompany well-crafted texts. You can use the feature to create original diagrams or add custom shapes, charts, text, text illustrations, and more.


If this sounds like something you’d like to use the next time you launch Docs, keep reading to find out how it works.

The drawing tool is only available on the web version of Google Docs. You cannot use it on iOS or Android apps.

Create drawings in Google Docs

The drawing feature is the easiest way to create a simple diagram or illustration in Google Docs. And we say simple because its capabilities are limited to basic shapes, word arts, and graphics. However, here’s how to do it:

  1. To create a new document in Google Docs. Alternatively, you can use an already created one.
  2. Place the cursor where you want the drawing to appear.
  3. Select the Insert tongue.
  4. Picking out Drawing among the options.
  5. Click on + New.

A checkerboard drawing window opens with a toolbar at the top displaying image, text, line, and shape tools alongside a drop-down Action tab.

Each option does exactly what its name suggests. For example, you can create lines with the Line tool or add shapes with the Shape tool.

Once a tool has been used, you get a few more customization options, such as border color and thickness for lines and fonts for text.

Meanwhile, the action bar contains typical options found on the File tab of Google Docs, like the ability to check version history or download items. It also contains general cut, copy and paste operations and a word builder to create fancy customizable texts.

You can combine multiple tools to achieve different effects. For example, you can add word art above the shapes or texts on the lines, as appropriate. Once you have finished drawing, click save and close. The artwork is automatically inserted into your document at the cursor location.

If you want to make changes to your illustration, click on it and select Edit to return to the drawing board (pun intended).

One would assume that a feature of this nature would benefit from a stylus or pen for granular controls. However, none of these are supported. You are limited to mouse commands no matter what artwork you create.

Insert illustrations from Google Drawings

The built-in Docs drawing tool is limited in what you can do with it. However, you can overcome this issue by opening the full Google Drawings service in the web browser app. While it doesn’t give you similar functionality to Corel Draw, you do get a few more useful options.

You get a full-page checkered drawing board to do all your scribbling. Also, the toolbar expands to the default option that appears on Docs, Sheets, Slides, and other Google apps, with File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, and Tools tabs. Each contains the usual assortment of options: Share, New and Open for the File tab; Undo, Redo and Copy-Paste operations for the Edit tab; etc

However, the Insert tab is where you’ll find a bunch of new stuff when it comes to drawing options. Here you can add tables, graphs and charts in addition to all the other options of the built-in tool.

The tool automatically syncs with your Drive like other Google services, so all your changes are saved as you go. It also means that once you’re done with an illustration, you can just close and exit Drawings. You can then insert the completed work into your Google Doc by placing the cursor where you want the drawing to appear and selecting Insert > Drawing > From the reader.

Once you have selected the drawing, you are prompted to either link to the source or insert the raw, unlinked drawing.

The source link allows collaborators to directly access the illustration in Google Drawings and even edit it, for those with edit access. However, you can remove the link or revoke editing permissions if needed.

Add some sparkle to your Google Docs using drawings

Pictures say a lot more than words. So, follow the steps mentioned in this article to make sure you’re showing and not just talking. If you are a professional Google Docs user, you should definitely learn how to create a table of contents in the app. And if you’re looking for a new computer that’ll run Google’s apps like a charm, check out one of the best Chromebooks when working on the web.