Evolus Pencil Quick Tip: How to Group Items (Especially Sketchy GUI)

Featured image for EricHepperle.com Quick Tip post - How to Group Items in Evolus Pencil for web design mockups & diagrams. (Collage by: Eric Hepperle, 2018)
Quick Tip: How to Group Items in Evolus Pencil for web design mockups & diagrams (Collage by: Eric Hepperle Designs, 2018 | Credit: “Notebook Flat Icon Vector.svg” by Videoplasty.com; “pexels-photo-943096” by Danny Meneses; Pencil logo by @EvolusPencil on Twitter)

What is Evolus Pencil?

Evolus Pencil (not to be confused with Apple Pencil, Pencil Sketch, or Pencil Code) is a great open source mockup and design application for Windows. It is has an easy to use drag-and-drop interface and it’s closest competitors are probably Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, and charting applications like draw.io and LucidChart. Evolus Pencil is primarily useful for web developers, website designers, and software engineers. It was written by Vietnamese developers originally and is now managed by The Pencil Project whose mission is to,

“[B]uild a free and opensource tool for making diagrams and GUI prototyping that everyone can use.”

Object grouping feature missing?

One common procedure that is usually available through a right-click menu in most applications with a graphic design component is object grouping. In fact you may have wondered “why can’t I group items in Evolus Pencil“???

In Pencil, object grouping doesn’t seem to work. In most applications you either shift-click or ctrl-click to select a group of items, then right-click and select “Group items” or something similar. But in Evolus Pencil, that is not the case.

Add to that the fact that Pencil is the rare open source application with no FAQ, no Manual, and no Wiki. With Evolus Pencil, even the Readme on GitHub is sparse at best. Though it seems to be a great little lightweight tool with excellent instant object alignment and snap features, there aren’t many video tutorials available either. Save for their issues tab on GitHub there really is no support for this software.

How to group objects in Evolus Pencil

Well, I figured out how to group objects and I want to share that knowledge with you now. Here is the procedure for grouping objects in Evolus Pencil.

  1. Select multiple objects by clicking in upper left outside of the topmost object.
  2. Drag the cursor to right outside the lowest part of the rightmost object.
  3. Release the mouse. Now you should see all your objects outlined in green.
  4. Press CTRL+G (probably CMD+G on a Mac) to group your objects.
Click and drag from upper left to lower right to select all items for grouping in Evolus Pencil. (Eric Hepperle, 2018)
Click and drag from upper left to lower right to select all items for grouping. (Eric Hepperle, 2018)
After selecting objects each item to be grouped is outlined in green. Press CTRL+G to finish grouping. (Eric Hepperle, 2018)
After selecting objects each item to be grouped is outlined in green. Press CTRL+G to finish grouping. (Eric Hepperle, 2018)

Bonus Tip:

You can rapidly duplicate objects in popular open source programs like Gimp by pressing CTRL and then dragging your object. In Pencil, shift-click and drag to duplicate objects. If you CTRL-click you will actually create a duplicate under the directly on top of the original, but it won’t look like anything changed.


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