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Figma UI UX Design Essentials

What is the difference? Union vs Flatten in Figma

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi everyone, in this video we're going to look at the difference between Union, at the top here, between Union and Flatten, the non-destructive option, and the Terminal, very destructive, but sometimes useful option, all right, let's jump in. 

Let's talk about Union versus Flatten, I'm going to use this example here, onto a new page, and if I go to Outline mode, 'Command Y', 'Ctrl Y' on a PC, you can see, all of the stuff at the top here is cool, that it's still editable, but it makes a really messy document, and, you know, it's-- can you see in here as well, if I go into this, Union, let's call this my "Firehouse", there's a lot going on in here, and while it be final export, just fine, what I want to do is actually just smoosh it down into, like a single drawing, and that's where Flatten comes in. 

So we're going to take this example first, let's make a copy of it over here, let's go to 'Outline' view. So I've got this thing, and it's fully editable, which is nice, but actually, I'm just going to go, you, 'Flatten', and it just gets it back to there, it is, Destructive. Non-destructive is the Union that we did, or in this case, maybe we did Intersect, to get this one. So often, you use Flatten after you use one of these. 

So we used Intersect to make this one, and then just to tidy it up we went Flatten. It's also good when, let's say that, I'm going to grab my 'O' for the Circle tool, I'm going to grab my 'Rectangle' tool, and I'm going to draw myself a little man. So I've done what, 12, I think they're different, but 12 point, he's very stocky, this is meant to be my account man, very stocky, he's the bouncer/account icon, let's line him up. 

Now if I've got this guy, I don't want to export him this way, because it'll be two shapes, if I say 'File', 'Export', now we're going to do, Inspect and Exporting, and stuff later on, but if I want to export this fella, he's going to export two separate shapes to my developer, and he's going to go, "Why is there two shapes?" So normally you'd go Union, and that you could export, you could group it and export, no difference, but let's say I do-- I'm going to undo that first, I'm going to have two versions. 

So this one's going to be unioned and this one's going to be flattened, and they look the same, you're like, "What's the difference here?" It comes to things like scaling, watch this, if I grab both of these, holding 'Shift' down, scale them down, watch this one, who's been-- radius has been set to 12-ish, can you see, it tries to retain that 12, whereas this one is flattened. It's like smooshed a bit, so I can go in here and say, the smooshed bits, it doesn't know that it's a rounded corner anymore, it just knows that this is the shape, I'm always going to be. 

I can go and customize it, I can say, click on this Anchor Point here, there you go, here's my moon face bouncer. So Flatten kind of destroys it, which is sometimes helpful, and Union though would be more common, just leave it editable, you can scale it-- like if I undo that, there is a way of getting around that whole problem, with the Stroke on the outside, or at least the radius. You just use the Scale tool instead of the Selection tool, hold 'Shift' still, can you see, it scales the radius, and that. 

All right, Flatten is for tidying up messy things, that you want to then go and edit on top of, Union, like all the other Boolean operators are non-destructive, you can edit them afterwards, which is probably more common, you'll do more of that, anyway, that is it for this video, I'll see you in the next one.