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, which are represented by <use> objects. If the symbol changes, all the 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 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.
Symbols are also shown in the Object Tree, where they can be copy-pasted, duplicated and deleted.
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 or the Object Tree 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.
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. The Timeline shows the symbol's animated objects when the symbol is edited. They are not shown after the editing mode is exited.
You can reuse other symbols 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.