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Get Started Using Google Slides for Graphic Design

If you’re a parent of a budding graphic design student or a teacher looking to add some graphic design activities to your curriculum, you may be searching online to find out where to start. You’ve probably seen several free graphic design applications online, and you may have even gotten really excited about Adobe Illustrator until you saw the price tag. Fortunately, there is a free solution!

You can use Google Slides for graphic design and create simple to more advanced drawings using the basic shape tools. There are also features for special effects, adjusting line widths and styles, creating custom colors and gradients, and alignment tools. There are even animation tools that make is easy to add motion to your drawings.

Why We Tried Google Slides

During the pandemic when schools switched to virtual learning, my colleagues and I were really nervous about what we could use instead of Adobe Illustrator. The students in our Info Tech classes were using Chromebooks, and they didn’t have access to Illustrator or even PowerPoint. We tried several of the free vector drawing programs online, but they usually would have required students to set up an account, and then that causes privacy issues. I was beginning to panic as the new school year approached and we were still remote.

What could we use for to draw? Finally, after a few conference periods spent frantically searching for a good drawing program, we finally realized that Google Slides was right in front of us all the time and would allow us to use a lot of our graphic design activities.

Start Drawing on the Computer

Students will pick up drawing in Google Slides fast. It’s a great way for students to get used to using a mouse to draw on the computer. If they are using Chromebooks, they can use the touchpad, although it will be more challenging. However, many of our students preferred not using a mouse (Not sure why! Must be my age!)

To get started drawing, practice with some simple shapes. Have students try to them put the shapes together to create a real drawing.

Give it a Try By Learning Some Basic Shapes

1. Go to Google Drive and select Google Slides. Under the layout options, choose a Blank slide.

Then locate the shape tools. 

Google Slides - Select Blank Slide
Google Slide Shape Tools

2. Select the Oval tool.

Hold the SHIFT key and draw a circle. (SHIFT keeps the shape perfectly round)

3.Use the Fill (Paint bucket) tool and select a light yellow.


Google Slides Fill Color

4. Use the Border tool to remove the border color by choosing Transparent. 

Google Slides Border Tool Transparent

5. Select the Rectangle tool. Draw a rectangle as shown:

6. Select the rectangle, go to Arrange>Order>Send to Back to move the rectangle behind the circle. 

Google Slides Arrange, Order, Send to Back

7. With your selection tool (arrow), draw a big box around the circle and rectangle to select both at the same time. Go to Arrange>Group.

8. Select the Oval tool. Draw a smaller oval shape. Fill it with a lighter yellow color. Make the border transparent. Place it as shown.

Google Slides Oval Shape
Google Slides Oval Shape

9. Draw a tiny circle. Fill it with red. Remove the border color and make it transparent.

Google Slides Oval Shape with Transparent Border

10. Select the red circle. Press CTRL+D to make 4 copies.

11. Fill the copies with any colors you like. Place them as shown. Now you have a cake pop!

Getting More Advanced

Don’t worry. Google Slides is capable of a lot more. In addition to Send to Back and Bring to Front, there are also align, distribute, and rotate tools that will allow you to arrange your shapes evenly on the slide. These tools typically found in vector drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Ink.


While Google Slides is not as sophisticated as Adobe Illustrator, it is a great and economical way for middle school and high school students or anyone interested in starting to develop their graphic design skills to get started drawing on the computer.