How to Make a Shape in Photoshop

In this practical guide, we've outlined how to make a shape in Photoshop, whether you'd like to draw on an existing shape layer, create multiple shapes, or save your creation as a custom shape.

Creating a Shape (on a Shape Layer):

  1. First, click on a specific shape tool or drawing tool (i.e. the Pen) in the main toolbar. Before drawing anything, look at the top options bar and choose "Shape" from the available options.  
  2. In the same options bar, you can also choose specific colors with the color swatch. Just click on the swatch to open the Color Picker, which has every color you can imagine. For even more control over your shape, click on the arrow next to the shape options to bring up a menu with advanced tool options. These include defined size and proportions, weight, snap to pixels, and much more.    
  3. Now, click and drag on your layer to create a shape. If you're drawing a four-sided shape (or ellipsis) and want it to be proportional, hold the Shift key while dragging and you'll end up with a square (or circle). You can also press the Alt key (Option on Mac) while dragging to create the shape from the center out. 

Drawing and Saving a Custom Shape:

  1. First, select the Custom Shape tool (it looks like a star-shaped blob) from the main toolbar. If you can't find it, just click and hold over the Rectangle tool to show the full toolkit.
  2. Next, choose a shape from the top options bar. For even more shape categories, click on the drop-down arrow located on the far right of the options bar. Clicking "Replace" will switch the currently displayed shapes in the options bar with your newly chosen category, and clicking "Append" will add the new category to your current shapes.   
  3. Start dragging in the image to draw your new shape! If you'd like to save the custom shape for later use, go to the Paths panel (you'll see a "Paths" tab in the Layers panel), click on the path that you want to save, and then choose "Edit" > "Define Custom Shape". In the dialog box, enter a name for your new shape and then click OK.   

Creating Multiple Shapes in a Layer:

  1. It's easy to draw a few shapes on the same layer, or add details to a particular shape after it's been created. First, choose the layer you want to modify from the Layers panel, and then select a drawing tool from the main toolbar. 
  2. In the top options bar, you have access to a number of shape tool options. These include:
    • Add to Shape Area: Expand an existing shape.
    • Subtract from Shape Area: Remove a section from an existing shape. 
    • Intersect Shape Areas: Restrict drawing area to where new and existing shapes intersect.
    • Exclude Overlapping Shape Areas: Limit where the new and existing shapes can overlap. 
  3. Now, draw your new shape! Throughout the creative process, you can switch between various drawing tools in the options bar and not lose your progress. 
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