Network Diagrams:Zones on a diagram with Visio shape union

Drawing Firewall Clusters

When drawing dual layer firewall clusters, we need to clearly show the different zones in between the firewalls. For example, let say that we need to represent two DMZ between an external and internal firewalls. Here is how you might want it to look:


Now this looks pretty obvious to most people who have done this before, and I didn’t think much of it until one of my colleagues pointed out the shapes in the middle. How did I draw them ?

Drawing odd shaped…….um, shapes

Strangely, this is a really simple feature in Visio. I’ll assume that you have read some of the other posts on Network Diagrams and know how to put this diagram together.

Start by drawing the box that you want to represent the area:


Duplicate that box (Control-D), and rotate (Control-R) and then make it a bit smaller with your mouse.


Now select all the three objects, then Shape, Operations, Union


and this is what you should have. An oddly shaped shape.


Now send it to the back:



As far as Visio is concerned, this is still just a box. So all the other methods for styling the box for colour, line and distortion are still possible. Such as changing the line style, or making the corners more curved:


But try to keep it in good taste. An ugly network diagram is still ugly.


Other Posts in A Series On The Same Topic

  1. Free Custom Handwriting Font for Network Designs (14th August 2014)
  2. Network Diagrams: Font Selection and Production Context. Choosing Slab or Thin fonts (9th June 2014)
  3. Book Release: Tips on Using Visio To Make Network Diagrams (27th March 2014)
  4. Network Diagrams: Drawing Overlay Network Layers (14th March 2014)
  5. Network Diagrams: Choosing Better and Free Fonts (10th January 2014)
  6. My New Diagram Colour Scheme "Old Disco Style" (24th September 2013)
  7. On Diagrams and Information (10th September 2013)
  8. Colour Blindness, Network Diagrams and Reliability (3rd March 2011)
  9. Designer or Engineer, Artist or Painter (19th January 2010)
  10. Network Diagrams: Rotating Text on a Line (1st October 2009)
  11. Network Diagrams: Tips for Printing from Visio (22nd September 2009)
  12. Network Diagrams:Zones on a diagram with Visio shape union (31st July 2009)
  13. Network Diagrams: Drawing complex VLAN Networks with IP Addressing (7th July 2009)
  14. Network Diagrams: Drawing Freehand Curves (and then fixing them) (23rd March 2009)
  15. Network Diagrams:Aligning Shapes (12th March 2009)
  16. Network Diagrams:Locking the Background Shape (10th March 2009)
  17. Network Diagrams: Labelling an VLAN/IP Segment (9th March 2009)
  18. Network Diagrams: VLANs and IP Subnets (8th March 2009)
  19. Network Diagrams: Drawing the Background Shape (6th March 2009)
  20. On the Art of Network Diagrams and Presentation (4th March 2009)
  • Paul

    Thanks for the info. I’m always looking for good ideas/tips to apply to my Visio drawings.

    • Tim

      I am always looking for good info like this as well. Keep it up.

      I would be happy to see more firewally diagram techniques as well, like how to diagram multiple contexts, transparent mode, VPN or other kinds of more advanced firewall or IPS builds.


  • Michael

    Great series.

    As a suggestion for a future article, how about something on Visio page sizing and printing?

    Somthing I often struggle with is scaling properly to print, especicially when I receive digrams from colleagues-they look fine on screen but end up etiher horribly small or chopped up when it comes to printing.


  • Pingback: Network Diagrams: Tips for Printing from Visio | My Etherealmind()

  • PCashaback

    Hi Greg, great articles I’ve learned some valuable tricks. Maybe as a future article, I’d be curious to know how you would go about drawing HSRP to connect 2 routers and the virtual standby to a network-


  • Jon

    Where do I find good Visio drawing samples. I’m new to security and I’m having a hard time showing the connections from an ASA 5520 F/W. I’m looking to be as detailed as possible showing the before (Watchguard) and after (ASA).