Artboards explained

Artboards can be a little unfamiliar to beginners. In this article, Andy explains artboards in depth so you can make more use of them in your workflows.

Key aspects of artboards

Let’s look at a few key facts about artboards…

  • They are independent design areas for creative thinking
  • You can create multiple artboards per document
  • They are objects so they possess object properties
  • All artboards use the same document settings

Artboards are design areas

An artboard is a self-contained design area in which you can draw your design, much like a normal page. It acts as a container for on-artboard objects much like an object group.

Single artboard: business card (front) for professional printing

Each artboard can have its own unique ruler guides, column guides and grid setup.

Multiple artboards

Artboards become so much more powerful when more than one is used. On different artboards you can create different designs in the same document which may represent design variants, different print deliverables (below), web mockups or device mockups.

Multiple artboards: business cards (front and back) for professional printing

More generally, you can simply use multiple artboards for visualising and comparing different design ideas side by side.

Some benefits of multiple artboards…

  • You can align and distribute multiple artboards in relation to each other
  • Logos or other repeating elements can be placed on and modified across multiple artboards simultaneously using Affinity Designer’s Symbols feature
  • Constraints can be used to intelligently scale or anchor artboard objects as you change artboard size—great when redesigning to differently sized device mockups

Object properties

An artboard is an object so you can select, transform and apply a range of properties just like you would to vector shapes, text and curves.

Like objects, artboards can be sized. For example, you’d typically create artboards at actual mobile device sizes or physical page sizes (compliment slips, letterheads, business cards, etc).

Differently sized artboards: mixed deliverables for professional printing

Artboards can also:

  • Take a coloured stroke/fill, opacity, etc.
  • Clip (contain) objects within the artboard (clip to canvas)
  • Scale contents as the artboard is resized

Document settings

One key aspect of artboard usage is that the document settings established at document creation are shared across all artboards. These include:

  • Colour space (RGB, CMYK, etc.)
  • DPI
  • Margins
  • Bleed settings
  • Measurement units (pixels, centimetres, inches, etc.)

You can’t change the above settings on a per artboard basis. As a result, at document setup:

  • For professional printing: use 300dpi and CMYK colour space
  • For web page mockups: use 72dpi and RGB colour space
  • For mobile device mockups: use 144dpi and RGB colour space

Affinity and artboards

In the Affinity product range, artboards are unique to Affinity Designer (both Mac and Windows).

In Affinity Publisher, you can place a Designer document’s artboard in your document. The original Designer file, if linked and altered, will update in Publisher automatically.

If you haven’t tried artboards before, you can create one directly from Designer’s New Document dialog or at any time in session using the Artboard Tool. Why not watch the official Serif video for more information.


Documentation manager
Andy manages our software documentation here at Serif and is our chief technical writer. In-between falling off his bike cycling into work, he keeps himself busy ensuring all our apps have up to date and accurate help content, and is editor-in-chief of our stunning Affinity Workbooks.