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Input methods

In the software, you build designs from basic shapes or ‘embroidery objects’. Embroidery objects have general properties such as color, size, position, and so on. They also have embroidery properties such as stitch type and density. Properties are defined as you digitize but they can be modified at any stage. The most important property for an embroidery object is its stitch type. Different stitch types are suited to different shapes.

The process of creating embroidery objects on screen is called ‘digitizing’. Embroidery digitizing tools are similar to drawing tools except that the end result are embroidery objects rather than vector objects.

Use Digitize > Digitize Open Shape to digitize open shapes with left and right mouse clicks for straight lines and curves.

Use Digitize > Digitize Closed Shape to digitize closed shapes with left and right mouse clicks for straight lines and curves.

Digitize shapes

Different digitizing tools are suited to different shapes or design elements such as fills, outlines, details. Shapes may be closed or open. If closed, stitching may be comprised of fills or outlines. When you select a tool, different stitch types become available. The Context toolbar also changes to modify what can be done. The input method for all digitizing tools is basically the same. General rules...

  • For manual digitizing, you will generally want to import artwork as a digitizing backdrop. See also Import images.

  • Select a digitizing tool from the Digitize toolbox - either open line or closed shape.

  • Choose a color from the Design Palette. See Design colors.

Use Context > Outline to outline closed shapes with the current line stitch type.
Use Context > Fill to fill closed shapes with the current fill stitch type.

  • Important! Choose a 'fill' or 'outline' method from the Context toolbar. This will determine whether the object is digitized as a fill or as an outline. Fills of course only apply to closed shapes.
  • Select a suitable stitch type from the Object Properties docker. This can always be modified later.
  • Create boundaries using left and right mouse clicks to mark reference points - left-clicks for curve points, right-clicks for corners.

Use Standard > Undo to undo previous action.
Use Standard > Redo to redo previously undone action.

Use Standard > Cancel to cancel the current process and deselect any selected objects. Same as the <Esc> key.

  • Refer to the Status Bar for help. This will often include prompts to guide you.
  • If you make a mistake, press <Backspace> to delete the last point. Alternatively, use the Undo / Redo tools on the Standard toolbar.
  • If you want to change a corner point to curve point, or vice versa, select the point and press <Spacebar>.
  • Press <Esc> to undo all new points. Press <Esc> again to exit digitizing mode. Alternatively, click the Stop button on the Standard toolbar.
  • To constrain a line to 15° increments, hold down <Ctrl> as you digitize.
  • Press <Enter> to finish digitizing a line or shape.
  • Use Auto Scroll to scroll automatically within the design workspace while digitizing.
  • Hold down the <Alt> key to temporarily deactivate Auto Scroll.
  • Use the <Ctrl+Shift+A> key combination to toggle Auto Scroll on/off.
  • To change settings, double-click an object to open the Object Properties docker. Change line or fill types via the docker.


Control points

The reference points you mark when digitizing a shape become its ‘control points’. These vary slightly with object type. Most points can be added, deleted, or moved. Corner and curve points can be interchanged via the <Spacebar>. Some control points such as entry and exit points cannot be deleted but they can be moved.

Entry point

Exit point

Corner reshape node

Curve reshape node

Stitch angle points


Join method

When you are digitizing closed objects, the Closest Join method automatically calculates connector points. See the second example below.

This method can be toggled off via the Embroidery Settings > Design tab from the Software Settings menu. See also Closest joins.

Use Digitize > Digitize Open Shape to digitize open shapes with left and right mouse clicks for straight lines and curves.

Use Digitize > Digitize Closed Shape to digitize closed shapes with left and right mouse clicks for straight lines and curves.


The software provides tools for creating outline stitching of varying thicknesses and styles. Digitize outlines with both open and closed shape methods. Lines of varying thickness are typically used to add borders, outlines, and details to shapes. See also Outline stitches.

Use Digitize > Digitize Closed Shape to create closed shapes using either outline or fill stitching. Left-click for corner points, right-click for curves.

Parallel fills  - Closed Shape tool

Use the Closed Shape tool to digitize large and complex shapes generally with fixed rather than turning stitch angles. Most shapes can be digitized with this tool. Digitize the boundary in the same way you digitize run lines. Follow the prompts in the status bar to help you digitize. If you make a mistake, press <Backspace> to delete the last reference point, then continue digitizing.

Use Digitize > Digitize Blocks to digitize column shapes of varying width, setting the stitch angle at each pair of points.

Turning fills - Digitize Block Tool

Use the Digitize Blocks tool to digitize columns of varying width with turning stitches. With this tool, you create the shape by marking reference points on alternate sides of the column. Click to enter corner points. Right-click to enter curve points. Mark a pair of points wherever the outline changes, and wherever you want the stitch angle to change.


  • The control points in a pair do not have to be the same type. For example, one can be a corner point, the other a curve.
  • If you make a mistake, press <Backspace> to delete the last reference point, then continue digitizing.
  • Press <Enter> to keep the last stitch and place the exit point at the last reference point you digitized, or
  • Press <Spacebar> to omit the last stitch and place the exit point on the opposite side of the column.
  • If you are joining two columns, omit the last stitch on the first column so that the exit point is close to the entry point of the next column.

Use Digitize > Rectangle / Square to click 2 corners of a rectangle, or press <Ctrl> for a square.

Use Digitize > Circle / Oval to click the center point plus 2 size points for an oval, or press <Ctrl> for a circle.

Circles & squares

Digitize circles and ovals, squares and rectangles with a few clicks. With the addition of a third reference point, the Circle tool can create oval shapes. Press <Enter> to complete the object. If you only want a circle, press <Enter> twice. You can use any fill stitch type. When in doubt, follow the prompts.

When using the Rectangle / Square tool, you only require two points. To create a perfect square, hold down <Ctrl> as you drag the pointer.

Use Digitize > Standard Shapes to digitize standard shapes. Press <Ctrl> to keep the proportions of the shape. Press <Shift> to center at the first point entered.

Standard shapes

The Digitize toolbox also provides a dedicated Standard Shapes tool which allows you to quickly create design objects from a library of preset shapes. You can apply the full range of outline and fill stitch types. These can be useful when creating logo designs or embroidered badges. Available shapes are exactly the same as for preset borders. Use <Ctrl> and <Shift> keys, alone or in combination, to maintain aspect ratio and center point.

Once you have mastered the basics of digitizing, you can easily find yourself looking for the next challenge. Digitizing animals with embroidery that imitates fur or feathers is definitely taking it to the next level. For more detail about the various ways you can achieve the look of fur and feathers using our stitch types, make sure you check out this blog from one of our digitizing experts.Click the thumbnail to read more or right-click to open the link in a new tab...