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How to Draw on PDF

Mar 29 2024

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Learn how to draw directly on your PDFs. We give you a detailed look at adding lines and different shapes to your pages and even how to edit them as you go.

️From highlighting key points in a report to jotting down study notes, quickly being able to draw on a PDF gives you a dynamic, more natural way to interact with your documents.

The ability to draw directly on PDFs can save you time from adding long comments or individual redactions.

Want to draw on documents in PDF format but don’t know where to start? Our guide will show you.

We’ll go over ways to draw on your PDF online and edit those drawings, as well.

Although you may think drawing on a PDF is impossible, it’s easy. The best way is to use a PDF editor like Xodo.

How to draw on PDF free online

Xodo’s PDF Editor has drawing tools that can easily streamline your workflow, whether you're reviewing or taking notes.

To access Xodo’s PDF drawing tools, follow these steps:

1. Go to Xodo’s PDF Editor tool.

2. Upload your PDF.

3. Then, in the toolbar, go to the drop-down menu and select Shapes.

PDF drawing tools

You’re now ready to start drawing on your PDF!

With your PDF opened, follow along with the sections below as we go over the different drawing tools and walk you through the process.

How to draw freehand on PDF

The most common way you’re probably looking to draw on a PDF is by drawing on it free hand. Here’s how:

1. Click on the Free Hand tool from the interface toolbar.

2. Then start drawing on your PDF page by using your mouse to click and drag. Draw your mark up as needed.

Drawing on PDF

Note here that Xodo also has a tool to let you freely highlight your PDF text if needed. It's also possible to insert additional text onto your PDF. For this, checkout our guide to learn how to write on PDF.

How to draw lines on PDF

Xodo includes the ability to draw lines on PDF pages, as well. A perfect alternative to drawing lines freehand if you need longer, straighter mark up lines.

Follow the steps below:

1. Click on the Line icon.

2. Then click on the page where you want to start your line and drag your mouse to extend it.

3. Simply let go of the clicked mouse button to end the line.

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You can also customize the appearance of your line shape simply by selecting any of the customization options available.

In addition to drawing freehand, Xodo also has different shapes you can use to help draw on your PDF.

How to draw shapes on PDF

Xodo contains simple, yet flexible shape options you can manipulate and customize.

To add customizable shapes on your PDF, select any of the Shape tools available on the toolbar and click on your PDF page to start adding, inserting, and customizing them. 

Drawing shapes on PDF

Below is a brief look at how to draw them onto your PDF.

Drawing a rectangle or ellipse on your PDF:

1. Click on the Rectangle or Ellipse tool.

2. Then click on the page where you want to insert the first corner of your rectangle or edge of your ellipse.

3. While holding down the mouse button, drag your mouse to expand the size and shape of your rectangle or ellipse.

Drawing an arrow on your PDF:

1. Click on the Arrow tool.

2. Then click on the page where you want your arrow to start and drag your mouse to where you want to place the arrowhead.

Drawing a polyline on your PDF:

1. Click on the Polyline tool.

2. Click on the page where you want the shape to start. Drag your mouse to extend your line, and then click to anchor your first corner in the line.

3. Continue to drag and click to set the second anchor in your polyline shape. Repeat as needed.

4. When you’re done, double-click to tie it off.

Drawing an Arc on your PDF:

1. Click on the Arc tool.

2. Then click on the page where you want your arc to start.

3. To draw an arc, click on the starting point of your curve, then click on a midpoint and then an endpoint along the desired arc’s length. You’ll then be able to further adjust, move, and edit the arc curve.

Drawing a polygon or cloud shape on your PDF:

1. Click on the Cloud or Polygon tool.

2. Then click on the page to specify the starting point of your shape. Drag your mouse and click to set your anchor points as many times as needed.

3. To close the shape, simply double click from where your cursor is or back on the starting point marked by the square icon.

Drawing cloud shape on PDF

With each shape, you can specify the outline colour, fill colour, opacity, and stroke width. Save up to 4 different customizations to easily switch between the appearance you need by clicking on it.

Lastly, when you’re done drawing on your PDF, click on Download to save the newly edited PDF on your device, or save it to your Google Drive or Xodo Drive.

How to edit your drawings

Now that you have your drawings on your PDF, you may find yourself needing to make changes to them. To edit your PDF drawings, follow these steps:

1. Click on the Select tool and click on the shape you wish to edit.

2. A blue object frame around the shape will appear that will allow you to perform common edits:

Move: To move the shape, hover over it until your cursor becomes a cross with 4 arrow heads. Then click and drag the shape where you wish.

Resize: To resize the shape, click and drag the blue dotted handles to make the shape either bigger or smaller.

Editing drawings in PDF

Customize: To change and further customize your drawing, click on the selected shape. Below the object frame, you’ll have a context menu allowing you to delete, insert links and comments, and change the appearance of your shape.

Manipulate: For the more complex shapes – polyline, polygon, and arc, you can manipulate and reposition your anchor points by clicking and dragging on the blue dotted handles.

Draw on PDFs and more with Xodo

Drawing and editing those drawings directly within PDFs can improve your digital document routine - and you’ve just learned how to do both using Xodo.

And with over 30 tools, Xodo can take your work beyond drawing on PDFs. You can continue working on Xodo to merge and split PDFs, rearrange PDF pages, sign PDF forms and more.

By incorporating Xodo and its many tools into your PDF workflow, you can take your document management to another level.

Explore Xodo Tools

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Reena Cruz

PDF Productivity Expert

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