How to Make Arrows in Photoshop

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Although Photoshop is an image editing software, it has tools that let you create artwork such as arrows from basic shapes such as rectangles and triangles. Learning how to make arrows in Photoshop can help you add an arrow to point out a key area in your image.

How to Make Arrows in Photoshop

Arrow diagrams are the simplest elements that you can use to illustrate a process, directions, flow of events, steps, and other presentations that you would wish to make. Fortunately, Photoshop has many tools and shapes you can use to make an arrow.

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Keeping in mind that Photoshop is versatile and you can use different tools to create the same artwork, you can use the following tools and methods to make arrows in Photoshop or even import and customize arrows from the internet.

Line Tool

The Photoshop line tool allows you to draw lines as pixels, paths, or vector shapes connecting two points on the canvas. The line tool method is the best option if you want to make a simple arrow without hand-drawn touches or flourishes.

Begin by selecting the Line Tool from the shapes option toolbar on your screen’s left-hand side. Alternatively, you can pick the line tool by pressing the U key on your keyboard.

  1. Modify your line stroke thickness by navigating to the options bar at the top. Note that the stroke thickness will determine the width of the resulting line and the arrow’s thickness.
  2. Ensure the align configuration in the stroke option is set to outside or center. If you set it inside, the stroke weight will not be visible.
  3. Assign a color to your line tool by clicking on the line and choosing a color from the color picker. Usually, you will want a different color from the background color of your canvas.
  4. With the line tool selected, draw a line on your canvas by placing the mouse pointer on the starting point on the canvas, left-clicking and holding the mouse button, and then releasing it when the mouse pointer is on your preferred ending point.
  5. Click on the gear icon on the Line tool options bar. Under the Arrowheads option, check the Start checkbox to add an arrow at the beginning of your line or the End checkbox to add an arrow at the end of the line. You can also check both the Start and End checkboxes if you want to add arrows on both sides.
  6. Set the width and length of the arrowhead.
  7. Set the concavity value between -50% and +50%. Typically, this is the amount of curvature on the widest part of the arrowhead where it meets the line. Depending on what you want, you can play around with the length, width, and concavity options to have different arrow styles.

Custom Shape Tool

Since Photoshop has arrow shapes, you can select one of the arrows and customize it rather than drawing from scratch. You can pick the custom Shape Tool from the toolbar on the left side of the screen.

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Click on the Rectangle Tool to open up a fly-out menu, choose the custom shape tool from the menu, and open the Shape Picker by clicking on the shape preview thumbnail on the right side of the custom shape tool icon.

Usually, the shape picker will display all the shapes that Photoshop offers. Select your preferred arrow shape and then click and drag it to your canvas. You can then use the Direct Selection Tool or the Transform tools to adjust its size and appearance until you are satisfied with the results.

Brush Tool

You can access the brush tool by clicking on the brush icon on the tools bar or pressing the B key on your keyboard. Create a new layer using your keyboard shortcut Shift + Ctrl + N or click on the Create a new layer icon.

Set the brush size to your preference and start drawing an arrow on the new layer. You can also press the Shift key when using the brush tool to constrain the brush and make it draw straight lines. Usually, this will make drawing much easier, and the resulting arrow will be smoother.

If you are a free-hand enthusiast, this is the best method as it allows you to add a personal touch to your project. However, this method works well using a drawing tablet, not the standard computer mouse.

Custom CSH Files

The custom CSH Files are data files containing a collection of custom shapes. They come in handy when you want to customize your artwork in Photoshop. Typically, files containing a CSH extension allow you to share and store shapes created within Photoshop.

With this method, you can download arrows from the internet and customize them in Photoshop. Locate the Custom Shape Tool on the left-hand side of your canvas, and then click on the right-hand side arrow near the shape field.

Click on the small gear icon on the top right-hand corner of the drop-down menu and choose the Load shapes option. Browse through to find the location of the CSH file you downloaded from the internet. Open the file and customize the arrow to meet your artwork needs.

Shape Tools

You can locate different shape tools under the toolbar on the left side of your screen. Since the rectangle tool will be showing by default, click on it to open the fly-out menu and view a list of the other shapes.

The most straightforward way to create an arrow using the shape tools is to combine the rectangle shape with a triangle by transforming and resizing the shapes using anchor points. For instance, you can add an extra anchor point on the lower part of the triangle using the Add Anchor Point Tool.

Turn the point you added into a sharp point using the Convert Point Tool, and then move the point to your preferred angle using the Direct Selection Tool or by pressing Shift A on your keyboard.

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How to Save an Arrow for Later Use

If you plan to use the custom arrow in the future, it’s advisable to save it, so you don’t need to make new arrows every time. Once satisfied with the arrow, save it by going to Edit and choosing Define Custom Shapes. Enter the name of the new shape and click OK to confirm.

To use the custom arrow, navigate to the Custom Shape Tool and open the Shape field under the menu bar. Expand the drop-down menu by clicking on it and then pick your saved arrow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Create a Curved Arrow in Photoshop?

You can create a curved arrow in Photoshop by using the above steps to create a straight arrow using the line tool. You can then press the keyboard keys Control + T on your Windows computer or Command + T if you use a mac. Right-click, select Warp, and then change the warp preset to Arc to make the arrow curved.

Can I Draw an Arrow in Adobe Illustrator?

You can draw an arrow in illustrator by navigating to the Windows tab and choosing Brushes from the drop-down menu. Click on the button at the top right of the window and choose Open Brush Library. Select Arrows, choose Arrows Standard from the menu pop-up menu and then use the brush to draw the arrow.

Final Thoughts

Since photos contain lots of detail, learning to make arrows in Photoshop will help you create arrows that can help point out the areas of interest. Since Photoshop is versatile, you can develop arrows using a wide range of tools such as the line tool, shapes, and brush tool.