Drawing arrows in Photoshop is quite difficult compared to doing it in InDesign, XD or Illustrator. I am certain you’ll know how to draw arrows by the end of this tutorial.
We’ll start with the Line Tool to draw straight arrows, then I’ll talk about legacy arrows (which aren’t very good), and finally how to draw a curved arrow.
Table of Contents
- Draw an arrow using the Line Tool
- Legacy Arrows In Photoshop
- Curved Arrows in Photoshop
- Drawing the curved arrow shaft using the Pen Tool
- Add the arrowhead
Draw an arrow using the Line Tool
If you want to draw a straight arrow, use the Line Tool.
If you can’t find the Line Tool on your left sidebar, press the “U” button and the tool will be highlighted, but it may not be the Line Tool.
Simply click and hold on the tool until a menu appears and the Line Tool should be in there.
Set the arrowhead in the Line Tool
Before you can create an arrow, you will need to set the arrowhead. If you don’t, you’ll get a line without an arrowhead.
On the top bar, select the cog.
You will see the “Arrowheads” section. We want a one-direction arrow, so click on the “End” checkbox. If you want an arrow on both ends of the shaft, click “Start” and “End”.
From now, any line that you draw will have an error.
You will have to guesstimate how large an arrowhead you need, and declare it in the width and length input boxes. Try something small like 2cm and go from there.
Then, double or halve it until you get to your perfect size.
Create the arrow
Finally, set the Fill, Stroke and Stroke Width.
A stroke is an outline of the arrow — the infographic below will show you what I mean. Unless you need a stroke, you can put it to 0px and transparent.
But make sure to choose a Fill colour.
Finally, click on the canvas and drag it to where you want the arrow to point.
You might not like the arrow you’ve created. Something might be too big or small. Here’s a little infographic that will show you what you need to change up.
Legacy Arrows In Photoshop
The benefit of legacy arrows is that you can draw arrows of various shapes, including curved ones.
In order to access legacy arrows, you can go to the Custom Shape Tool.
On the top bar, click on the Shape box.
Find Legacy Shapes and More > All Legacy Default Shapes > Arrows
As you can see, there are some squiggly and curved arrows. But they’re fixed in dimensions so you can’t extend the shaft without affecting the arrowhead.
Curved Arrows in Photoshop
There’s no native way to draw curved arrows in Photoshop using the Line Tool, so you’re going to have to assemble your own curved line.
Let’s see how I managed to do this.
Drawing the curved arrow shaft using the Pen Tool
First things first. Let’s use the Pen Tool (hotkey “P”).
Set the type to “Shape”.
Make sure your fill is set to transparent.
Your stroke should be the colour that you want for the arrow’s shaft.
In order to draw a curve using a Pen Tool, click on the starting point.
Then, move your cursor to the end point but make sure to hold the mouse down.
Drag the mouse around to create a curve.
As you can see from the image above, the red dots were where I clicked to create the arrow’s stem.
Add the arrowhead
Right now, you will have a line but no arrowhead.
Go back to the Line Tool.
Put the Stroke to 0px.
Make sure the colour of your Fill is the same as your Pen Tool line’s colour.
Draw the arrowhead but avoid creating a shaft that’s too long.
Now, merge the Pen Tool line with the arrowhead.
If you find that your arrowhead is too big, then, you’d have to adjust it in the arrowhead menu.
And there you have it!
Remember that since these are two different shapes, you will have to move them both.
You can permanently Rasterize Layer and merge them together, but I don’t recommend it because this makes your lines and arrowhead uneditable.
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