How to Just Design with Concepts

If you’re just getting started with Concepts, read our beginning Freehand Mode tutorial. If you’re ready to go one step deeper into using Concepts, this tutorial shows you how to use Precision Mode, Adjust Mode and a few Layers.

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The world is full of design problems to conquer, like home improvements, life-simplifying gadgets, personal style and the quest for artificial intelligence. With so many solutions to design for, Concepts offers you a cache of smart tools to customize and use as you need them, when you need them.

In this tutorial, I’ll get you started using the Pro Pack features Precision Mode, Adjust Mode, and Layers as we design this simple object together.

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Our design problem? A not-quite-sexy workstation needs a wire hub to gather the snarls of computer cords — we aren’t entirely wireless yet — so this little guy slides unobtrusively onto the edge of the desk, hugging the cords with it.

Mostly, though, it’s a simple item to draw, made of a cube, a couple circles, and a few extra lines. Let’s get started.

Note: This tutorial is easiest to follow using an iPad or iPad Pro, but it is completely achievable on an iPhone.

1. The first step with any new project is to set up your workspace. Open Concepts.

Since designs often have several angles and iterations, long-press the + in the upper left corner of your Gallery to make a brand new project. You can add as many drawings to your project as you like.

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Inside your drawing, touch the gear on the toolbar to open the Settings menu.

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Select your Settings options as in the following image, with Paper Color Plain White, Grid Type & Display 10/100, Paper Size Infinite, Paper Scale 1:1, Units Based on paper (pts), and all Snap Options selected.

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A brief rundown on Snap: this allows the start and end points of a stroke to reach for and touch other nearby stroke ends. The lines may shift around as they attempt to find points to align with, but play with it and you’ll get the feel of it quickly.

  • Snap to Key Points means your stroke end will locate and “snap” to significant points on the canvas.

For more on Snap, check out the Concepts manual.

Once your Settings are good to go, exit to your drawing and look at the toolbar.

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Here you’ll see several key items you’ll want to get ready.

Set your tools to the ones you see on the main toolbar, highlighted closer below. We’ll be using just four tools, with a fifth Eraser tool optional.

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Touch the Precision Mode icon (the nine dots). You’ll see the grid underlay appear that you selected in Settings.

Select the Layers icon. I like my layers set to “Sorted Manually” so I can keep my ideas together (instead of sorting them by tool). Just touch that underlined “Automatically” and it will switch to “Manually.” You can get rid of any extra layers by tapping them twice — once to activate, a second time for the pop-up — and selecting the waste bin.

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In the upper right corner of your screen, you’ll also see a small menu. This is the HUD or Heads Up Display. It allows you to turn certain settings on or off without needing to return to the Settings menu.

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You can see that Snap is on and Measure is off. I won’t be using measurement or scale in this tutorial, even though these are key elements of design. Happily, we have a tutorial covering them — you can find it here.

2. Precision Mode has a special Shape Guides entry on the Customization menu (the inner settings hugging the main toolbar). Touch the Arc…

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… and a set of Shape Guides unfurls. Choose the Rectangle.

Each of the circular handles on the perimeter can be dragged to make your perfect shape. Double-tap the crosshairs in the middle of the rectangle to make it a square.

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Move your stencil into a corner of the grid using two fingers anywhere on screen, and pinching or spreading those same two fingers, make it as large as four grid squares.

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Select your Pencil and draw the square. You can draw anywhere on screen. It’s easiest to draw away from the lines so you don’t accidentally grab a handle.

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There it is! When you’re done drawing, tap the screen away from the guide (or tap the Rectangle guide on the Customization menu) to deactivate it.

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What a lovely square! Well drawn!

3. Now to the fun part. Anything you draw, you can Select and Adjust after-the-fact. There are so many bonuses with this, one of which is duplicating what we just made with a tap.

To select a stroke, tap-and-hold it.

  • If there’s only one stroke nearby, it will select that stroke.

Note: When a Shape Guide is active, Selection is inactive. You won’t be able to Select or Adjust your drawn shape until you’ve deactivated the Shape Guide on the Customization menu.

Select your square.

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See the pop-up? This is your Selection menu. From left to right, you can copy your selection to the clipboard, duplicate it, toss it away, rotate it, stretch or scale it. For more on the super-powered adjustment abilities you can achieve from within this menu, take a look at this tutorial featuring Concepts’ Advanced Transforms.

Let’s duplicate the square. Touch the Duplicate button on the pop-up…

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… and drag the copy one square upward, diagonally on the grid. It will snap into place.

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4. Now select your Line tool.

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This line goes on and on forever. But so we don’t draw for forever, double-tap the cross-hairs in the middle. Your line will stop at the handles, and so will your pencil stroke when you draw along it.

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Move your Line tool so that the handles snap into place on the corners of your squares…

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… and draw your line. (Remember to draw beside the line so you don’t grab the handle.)

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Deactivate the Line tool. Tap-and-hold to Select the line you just drew.

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Touch Duplicate, and drag the new line to the next couple corners. Duplicate it a third time, and drag to the third set of corners.

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We have a working cube! (We could finish it with a fourth line, but we won’t see that in the final shape.)

5. On to the center circles. You’re starting to get the hang of the Shape Guides, right? Touch the Ellipse guide.

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Double-tap the crosshairs in the center for a perfect circle.

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Drag it to the center of your first square. The center point will snap right onto the corner of the intersecting square. Then use the grid to determine the circle’s distance from the square’s perimeter. I made my circle two grid units smaller.

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Pencil it in, then deactivate the Ellipse guide.

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Select your circle and Duplicate it, and move it to the center of the second square.

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This is the main structure for our design. And if we add a few more lines using the Line tool, to note where we’ll cut into our shape…

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… we have a final, underlying form for our object. You can quietly sip a glass of your favorite victory beverage here to celebrate, or move on to the next step.

6. The next step is to ink over our shape. Make a new layer by touching [+ New Layer] on the Layer menu.

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Activate the Fixed Width pen. I chose blue ink so I could easily see the line difference while tracing, but you can use black or any color you like.

Go ahead and trace the main lines of your penciled object using the Line and Ellipse tools.

I found it easiest to use the Line tool to trace the straight edges here, since we no longer have full squares, but you can use the square if you like and only trace part way around the guide. For the circles, I used the Ellipse tool and did exactly that.

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A few hints to make it faster:

  • Use the Line guide for the first line, then deactivate the guide and simply Duplicate, rotate and resize each line. The Duplicate button is definitely your friend.
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Hide the pencil layer, and here is our design! Cheers (clink).

To render it into an object of beauty:

7. Select your entire object with a lasso…

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touch the color palette, and turn the ink black.

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8. Make a New Layer. Tap-and-hold the layer to select it, and drag it down one layer so it’s sitting right below the ink layer.

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Choose the Filled Stroke tool and fill your shape in. The Filled Stroke tool follows your fingertip or stylus tip and fills any space you leave between your start and end points, tracing your path.

If you go outside the lines, use the Eraser as a mask to clean up the edges. For perfect lines, use the Eraser with the Shape Guides.

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9. Add a final New Layer, positioned above the Color layer.

Select your low-opacity black Filled Stroke, and add it as a shadow to the inside of the object.

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That’s everything! Our design is ready for measurements and prototyping. Dreaming of some color options that will be available…

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… and perhaps a logo.

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This little object has a future. At least as a design tutorial. Happy designing!

If you have questions about Precision Mode, Adjust Mode or Layers, please Ask Us Anything in-app, email concepts@tophatch.com, or ask in the comments.

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Written by Erica Christensen — Writer | Illustrator | Designer at TopHatch.

Infinite, flexible sketching for your ideas · iPad & iPhone | Windows 10 | Android & Chrome OS

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