Trivial Layout Requests - Outline, Fill, Items selection

A few minor things that would make life simpler–not sure if they already exist in 5.99 or on:

  1. When doing a rectangular board outline I never get it square nor do I always get the rectangle to close. I have to play with the dimensions or the dimension resolution. And for some reason selecting outlines does not work very well at least with my computer. It would nice if I could click a “rectangular polygon button” when drawing initial regions instead of doing it line based.

  2. When filling planes I have to draw the fill much as above. Without playing with dimensions it requires a lot of adjustment. It would be nice to have a “fill complete board” option which would fill the complete board to the outline.

  3. When examining single “items” on the board I have to constantly “unclick” all the items except the one that I want. It would be nice to have a “right-click: Deselect all” option much as in the Layers option.

If any of these exist I did not find it. No need to gild the rose here but they would be nice conveniences and prevent some errors before sending a board off to the cutter.


in v5.99 there is a “Draw Rectangle shape” so resolving this frustration
To solve in 5.1.x there is two options

  1. Set the grid to a courser value, this way the snap to grid will assist you
  2. complete the outline using FreeCAD kiCad plugin - tbf even with the rectangle tool in v5.99 I will still use FreeCAD to complete such a thing because working with mechanical constraints is easier than co-ordinate outline

Use a courser grid. I typically always try to get fills on a 1mm or 0.5mm grid and flip to a or smaller for placement and routing. To not do that just causes major OCD when parallel planes are not exact (v5.99 does have the option to apply the plane to multiple layers)

Rectangle shape is in 5.99. Closed graphic shapes (circle, rectangle, polygon) have filled/unfilled option.

Zones are filled up to the edge.cuts line. Just draw the zone outline outside the edge.cuts line.

I don’t understand. Click somewhere and everything except the item under the cursor is deselected. If you click on empty area everything is deselected.

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Another trick in 5.1.x is to draw a rectangle in a drawing layer (Dwg.User, Eco1 … etc ) and then move the polygon to the Edge.Cuts layer.

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When I want a zone the fill the whole (or most of) a PCB, then I usally draw the zone itself in the form of a pentagon, like:

This way the zone get clipped by the outline of the PCB and the zone is always easily selectable by it’s edge. If anything goes wrong for example with Gerber creation it is also very obvious at the first inspection.

Another thing that helps to line items up horizontally and vertically across the screen is to use the full window cursor. If you always want to see the cursor you can set it to always show, though I can see how some would want to remove the visual clutter. I personally always have both turned on and this can be found in the display settings page in the preferences for EESchema, Symbol Editor, PCBNew, Footprint Editor, and Gerber Viewer:
2021-01-16 13_15_52-Preferences

Here is what it looks like on a sample board:

When moving the mouse around the screen (Windows10 with KiCad 5.1.9) the mouse pointer moves smoothly around the screen and the cross-hair pointer snaps to the grid.

Did we already mention keeping Ctrl pressed while drawing lines?


Or draw a line and then press e to Edit the properties of that line and entering some coordinates:

I generally use the custom grid instead of entering coordinates. Is in most cases faster. So if i need something of size 100x50 i setup the grid to have this sizes in x and y (or to half of the dimension if i am making a footprint and want the current feature centered)

A larger grid in general makes it easier to make straight features so even if i do not have a fixed size in mind i set the grid as large as feasible for the current task. For example when i lay out the board edge then i use either 0.5 or 1mm size grid (and for larger boards that require zooming out i even go to 5mm grid size). Plus of course using ctrl key.

And for anything more complex i design the feature in freecad and import it to kicad with stepup.

And yes this is partly a repeat of what others already wrote. (I just did not want to make it seem as if i only rely on the custom grid feature)

I had problems with this as well in the beginning and also had to ask. It’s not intuitive.

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