A symbol is a template object which can be reused multiple times in a document. Symbols are not drawn directly on the canvas. They are drawn to the canvas by symbol instances. If the symbol changes, all its instances get updated with the same change.
Symbols offer an efficient way to create repeated graphics. They make editing similar objects less tedious and they often reduce the file size of exported SVG files.
The Symbols Panel shows all symbols available in a document. They can be dragged to the canvas to add symbol instances to the document.
Create symbols by selecting objects and choosing the Object > Symbol > Convert to Symbol menu command. The selected objects will be replaced by a symbol instance, which references a newly created symbol object.
To create empty symbols, choose the Object > Insert > New Symbol menu command or click the Add (+) button in the Symbols Panel.
To add an instance of a symbol to the canvas, drag the symbol object from the Symbols Panel to the canvas.
The size of the symbol instance can be changed. You can also change the instance to reference another symbol in the Property Panel. However, it is not possible to override any other properties of the original symbol object.
If the symbol is animated, then its timing can be changed. On the timeline, the Playback property shows when the symbol instance's animation begins playback. It also shows when the animation stops. To change the playback rate, change the Symbol Instance's Rate value in the Property Panel. The rate 1.0 will play the symbol at the original speed. Values below 1.0 play it slower and values above 1.0 play it faster. Playback rate 0 will disable the animation.
There are several ways to edit symbols:
- Double-click the icon of a symbol in the Symbols Panel or the Object Tree.
- Select a symbol instance and click the Edit button in the Property Panel.
- Select a symbol instance and choose the Object > Edit in Isolation menu command.
Once a symbol is opened for editing, the name of the symbol appears at the top of the canvas.
When you edit the symbol, all instances are immediately updated with the changes. However, the thumbnail in the Symbols Panel is not updated until you exit the symbol-editing mode.
To change the dimensions of the symbol, select the symbol object in the Object Tree and change the coordinate values in the Property Panel. Changing the dimensions of the symbol will affect all symbol instances.
Objects in symbols can be animated. All instances of a symbol show the same animation.
You can use symbol instances inside symbols, but circular references are not allowed.
To exit the symbol-editing mode, click the document icon at the top-left corner of the canvas or press the Escape key.
Detaching from Symbols
You can convert symbol instances to plain objects, which no longer reflect changes made in symbols. Select a symbol instance and choose the Object > Symbol > Detach from Symbol menu command.