When you see a cool design created in Photoshop, you might wonder what tools were used to create it. You’ll invariably find that the design was created with Photoshop’s Custom Shape Tool.

custom size, you think? The only shapely designs you see look like stock art. But this robust tool can provide so much, and its versatility is often under-utilized. So, here’s a beginner’s guide to using the Custom Shape tool in Adobe Photoshop.

What is the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop?

Photoshop’s Custom Shape Tool is a shape tool that allows you to create non-standard, customized shapes. While Photoshop’s various shape tools provide basic shapes that you can create, edit, and merge together—such as the rectangle and ellipse tools—the Custom Shape tool gives you many more options.

The Custom Shape Tool not only provides a library of ready-made shapes, but it’s also easy to create your own custom shapes to use with the tool. You can add your own custom designs to the shape library for use at any time.

Once you’ve added a shape to your design, you can easily turn the design into a pattern that you can add to any surface in Photoshop.

Where is the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop?

From Photoshop’s default view, the Custom Shape tool is hidden in plain sight. The Custom Shape tool can be found in the left-hand toolbar as one of several tools under the Default Tools icon. Find the default shape tool — usually the Rectangle tool — and click and hold the icon until more tools appear.

You’ll recognize the Custom Shape tool by the little splatter pattern on its icon, almost like a puddle. Click on the icon to activate the Custom Shape tool. Once you activate it, you can hold U on your keyboard to select the tool later.

How to use the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop

Using the Custom Shape tool is simple, just like Photoshop’s other shape tools. When your custom shape tool is active, the upper settings bar at the top of your workspace changes to fit its parameters.

Step 1: Choose Your Size

The most important part of the Custom Shape tool is selecting the shape itself. To choose a shape from Photoshop’s library, go to the Custom Shape Picker menu.

Once you click on the dropdown menu, you will see a whole host of preconfigured options. These shapes range from picture frames and signage to nature elements, text bubbles, hearts and squares. You will also have self created custom shapes in this library.

Step 2: Adjust Your Settings

After choosing your shape style, you should choose a color for both the fill and stroke. Fill is the color that will be inside your shape. The stroke is the color that will outline your shape.

These two options can be found in the top left corner of your workspace. By clicking on each respective swatch, you will see a dropdown menu pop up.

From there, you can choose a color for your fill or stroke. You can also choose not to have any color. To leave your fill or stroke blank, select the white box with a red strike-through. Additionally—if you don’t like any of the color swatches—you can choose a custom color from the color picker. This is found on the right side of your dropdown menu.

Do you want to use multiple custom colors at once? Here’s how to create a color palette in Photoshop.

Step 3: Draw Your Shape

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the Custom Shape tool, it’s time to draw. First, make sure your Custom Shape Tool is still active. Then click and drag your cursor on the page to create your shape. You will see the outline in blue. To constrain the ratio, hold down Shift.

Once your shape is roughly the size you want, release your cursor. Unless you had set your fill options to red strike-through before you started, the blue lines will automatically be filled with the color.

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