The easiest way to create a complex shape is to draw its simple parts and then merge the parts into one complex whole. To merge shapes, select the shapes you want to merge, click the Shape menu, point to Operations, and then click a command.
Use the Union command to create a new shape from the perimeter of two or more overlapping shapes. The new shape is a set of all the points that were either in one original or another.
Use the Combine command to create a new shape from selected shapes. If the selected shapes overlap, the area where they overlap is cut out, or discarded. This creates holes in the new shape that make the drawing page grid visible through the shape.
For example, you can use Combine to create a picture frame shape (a rectangle that has a hole in the middle through which you can see what’s beneath) using the following method. Place a small rectangle in the middle of a larger one. Select the larger rectangle first, then the smaller one, and then on the Shape menu, point to Operations, and click Combine.
Use the Fragment command to break a shape into smaller parts or create new shapes from intersecting lines or from shapes that overlap. The Fragment command provides an ideal way to create Venn diagrams (diagrams that use overlapping circles to indicate inclusion, exclusion, and intersection of information) and marketing pyramids. You can use the Fragment command to:
Divide selected shapes into smaller shapes.
Create a new closed shape where two or more closed shapes overlap.
Create new shapes from the enclosed spaces of three or more intersecting lines.
Use the Intersect command to form a new closed shape from the area where selected shapes overlap, eliminating non-overlapping areas.
Because Visio doesn’t define specific points on a line, nothing is left if you make two overlapping lines intersect.
Use the Subtract command to create a new shape by subtracting from the primary selection the areas where subsequent selections overlap. For example, if you overlap a polygon and a triangle and select the polygon and then the triangle, using Subtract will remove the overlapping segment of the triangle from the polygon, creating a unique shape.
Use the Trim command to split selected shapes at their intersections. When a shape intersects itself, using Trim creates a new shape for each piece, preserving the styles. If closed shapes are split open, they lose their fill.
The Trim command is similar to the trim operation in Autodesk AutoCAD, although you can trim more than two shapes.
Use the Offset command to create a set of parallel lines and curves to the right and left of the original shape. For example, you can create a representation of a two-way road by offsetting a line. You can delete any line or curve you want, even the original, which is always positioned between the offset lines or curves.
Offset shapes inherit line styles from the original shapes. They do not inherit any fill patterns or text from the original shapes.
Offset shapes are positioned on either side of the original shape, at a distance that you specify.
When you create an offset shape such as the one to the left of the original angle
, the duplicated lines are extended to make them meet.
When you create an offset shape such as the one to the right of the original angle
, a portion of the duplicated lines is deleted to prevent them from crossing.
In this example
, extending the arc and the line doesn’t result in an intersection, so Visio creates offset duplicates of each shape and leaves them unconnected.
If the offset is wide, especially inside curves, the offset might not look like the original
Fit Curve command
Merging versus grouping shapes
How Union, Group, and Combine differ
Union, Group, and Combine do not create the same results.
Original shape: a square inside another square.
Union merges the perimeter of the two shapes.
Group treats the two shapes as one shape, but you can still manipulate the individual shapes in the group.
Combine deletes areas where shapes overlap.
The result of a merge operation depends partly on the shape you select first (the primary (primary selection: The first selected shape in a multiple selection, indicated on the drawing page by a thick magenta outline. When a multiple selection is combined, the formatting of the primary selection is applied to the new shape.) shape). The primary shape’s formatting is used in the resulting shape, and, in some cases, it even determines the shape of the new shape (when you use the Subtract command, for example).
Merging operations and the ShapeSheet
Merging operations create new shapes. The old shapes, including ShapeSheet (ShapeSheet: The spreadsheet that contains information about a shape; for example, its dimensions, angle, and center of rotation and the styles that determine the shape's appearance.) spreadsheets that define smart behavior, are discarded. The new shape gets its own ShapeSheet spreadsheet.