Concepts is an infinite, flexible creative tool for all your good ideas. Available on iOS, Windows and Android.

How to Edit a PDF

A Concepts Tutorial for Windows and Android

Learn how to create, import, edit, sign and export PDFs on your Windows or Android tablet.

PDF or Portable Document Format is the universal language for document shares these days. It’s a file type that allows graphic data like fonts, images and layouts to be flattened as-is and shared independently of all software and hardware brands, so your important work can’t get mucked up. For architectural layouts, legal documents, top-secret world domination plans - any doc that needs to retain its integrity - this invincibility is invaluable.

This wonderful attribute also means that changing elements of a PDF is well-nigh impossible, and unless you have some sort of PDF reader, document signer, or other software that allows for markup, you’re stuck with what you have.

The nice thing is, Concepts offers a way to import, mark up, rearrange pages, substitute pages, apply page transparency, and export both previous and brand new PDFs, all within the comfort of your mobile workflow. Here’s how.

Note: The screenshots here were created with a Pixel Slate. If you are using a Windows tablet, the interface will appear very similar.


Creating a PDF

If you’re creating a new PDF of your original work, you'll want to set up a scale artboard in Settings and add your content to it. An artboard is not required - you can export to a resolution instead of to a set scale - but if you need a specific size, an artboard is the best way to define your final outcome.

1. Tap Settings (the gear in the upper right corner of the status bar) and find Artboard Size.

2. Tap Presets to bring up a list of shortcuts or tap+hold a field to enter your PDF dimensions - for example, US Paper > 8.5" x 11" or A Series > A4.

3. Head back to the canvas and frame your content within the artboard boundary. If you need to import the content first, tap Imports to bring up the menu and find your files, then arrange them on your canvas.

If your content is too big or too small to fit in the frame, select your content and scale it to fit inside the boundary. (To make sure all content scales evenly, make sure "Scale" is active on the Selection menu when scaling, as well as "All Layers" if you have more than one.)

4. Once your content is framed, tap Export and choose PDF. More on the different export options below.

Importing a PDF

From the Gallery
Tap the Plus button in the top left corner of the status bar, or tap+hold the Plus New Drawing button in the bottom right corner of the Gallery screen. This will reveal a menu with your Gallery options, including the option to Import a file.

Locate your file (be sure PDF is the file type selected at the bottom of the file menu) and double-tap it to open it as a new drawing.

From the Canvas
Open the Import menu at the top right of the status bar. Locate your file (be sure PDF is the file type selected at the bottom of the file menu).

Tap the file and tap Open, or double-tap the file to open it on your screen.

Interacting with Your PDF

Your PDF will appear at the edge of your canvas, arranged vertically for you to scroll through. Simply tap a page or drag the pages you wish to edit onto the screen. The page will appear in Selection mode so you can position it on the canvas. Tap the screen to set it in place.


Useful Tip: When positioning your PDF pages, it helps to set Rotate to Off in the Selection menu before moving the document. A crooked placement won't affect export later, but it can be easier on the eye.

Concepts will export anything within a PDF page’s selection rectangle (see image below), assessing the furthest left to right and top to bottom points. If it’s more horizontal, it will export to the true horizontal page; if it’s more vertical, it will export to the true vertical page.

This offset page will export as a truly aligned PDF page.

It is possible to edit and substitute back in only the pages you want out of a multi-page PDF. Read how to do this below in Exporting Your PDF.

To remove the PDF from your working space, swipe it off the screen with your finger. To bring it back, select one of the PDF pages on your screen and notice an addition to your Selection popup — a square with three dots in the middle. Tap this icon and your PDF will return.

Select a page, then tap this icon to return your PDF document to the canvas.


Applying Transparency to Your PDF

When you import a PDF document, you have the option to import it with a standard white paper background or with a transparent background. A white background is ideal for your usual documents and files. A transparent background is useful when you're importing text or fonts, logos, or other graphic elements into pre-existing artwork or designs.

To toggle the transparency of your PDF (from white to transparent or vice versa, depending on your document), notice the alpha icon on your Selection popup. Tap this icon, then tap the canvas to set your page into place.

Editing Your PDF

You can use any of Concepts' tools and brushes to mark up your PDF. Add thoughts, write annotations, sign your document and email to your team for feedback.

We do not have a specific tool for cropping images or files, but you can use an artboard to crop or reframe an image - set it to your custom size, scale and frame your work to fit, then export with the custom size selected.

Using Layers to Edit Your PDF

For organized edits, we recommend you use a separate layer to mark up your PDF. This makes it simpler to select and edit your comments when necessary. Tap the Layers menu to open your layers display and see the activity.

When your layers are in Automatic mode, a page will import by default into a separate "image" layer. Once you select a tool to edit, it will automatically draw above the image layer in a tool layer set to the brush type you've chosen.

When your layers are in Manual mode, pages will import into the layer that is currently active on your canvas. Any drawing you do will be in the same layer, so it's up to you to activate a separate layer for edits.

Automatic vs. Manual modes - tap the tag to switch between layering modes.


Exporting Your PDF

When your document is ready to go, tap the Export button on the main toolbar. Scroll through the file options until you see PDF.

Choose PDF, then select your Region and Background Options.

1. If you choose Screenshot, whatever configuration of pages or work you’ve created that show within the current boundaries of the screen will save as a single PDF page.

2. If you choose Entire Drawing, everything you’ve drawn, including what you don’t see in the visible screen boundaries, will save into a single PDF page.

3. If you've created an artboard to frame your work and choose Custom, whatever is inside the artboard boundaries will save into a single PDF page.

4. If you choose PDF Bounds, you will create a new multi-paged PDFwith the pages you have on the canvas. Pages will read from left-to-right and top-to-bottom. You can only create a multi-paged PDF in app using a pre-imported blank multi-paged PDF document at this time.

5. If you select PDF Bounds and include Original Pages, any pages you dragged in and edited from a PDF will automatically substitute in for the original pages you imported, giving you an updated version of your original PDF.

PDF Bounds will give you a new multi-paged PDF based on pages on canvas. PDF Bounds with Original Pages will export an updated PDF based on your original PDF import.

Document Signatures and Substituting Pages into a Multi-paged PDF

If you’re signing a document or marking up a pre-existing PDF, and want to include only the edited pages back into the original PDF:

1. Import the PDF from Files or Cloud.

2. Drag just the pages you need to edit onto the canvas, right to left, top to bottom order.

3. Make your marks, sign your signatures etc.

4. In the Export menu, select PDF (Adobe, flattened), PDF Bounds, and Original Pages. Email your document directly back to your colleagues or save to Files / Cloud directly from the app.

Best of luck with your world domination plans, design work and projects. If you have questions, please chat with us via Help > Ask Us Anything in-app, or send an email to Thanks!

Multi-paged PDF design by Santtu Kouvonen
Written by Erica Christensen


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