How to create / draw arrow shapes in Photoshop tutorial

A quick guide to creating a basic arrow shape in Photoshop CC 2018 2017 2015 etc (to draw with the arrow shape). An arrow can be created in many ways but this tutorial shows you how to create a basic arrow which can be extended then to other types of arrow designs in Photoshop.

Create arrow shape

how to create an arrow shape in Photoshop tutorial
  1. Set shape option to layer for arrow

  2. Set color for the arrow shape in Photoshop via fill color

  3. Rectangle tool and draw a long rectangular line

  4. Go to the polygon tool and set options via top bar to not a star and only 3 sides

  5. Draw triangle shape at the end of the line

  6. Combine them for your arrow shape

  7. Select all the shape using the direct selection tool

  8. Edit menu and define shape

  9. Draw with arrow shape using the custom shape tool

Alternatively, you can draw a shape using a pre-existing shape

  1. Go to the custom shapes tool

  2. Set a foreground color

  3. Go to the custom shapes preset picker along top bar

  4. Goto right side menu and select the arrows entry in the shapes list

  5. Select an arrow shape

  6. Draw with an arrow shape

Or you can check out our arrow shapes on this site in 1000s of combinations

Photoshop arrow basics - the start point for 100s of different arrows

photoshop arrow basic design tutorial

CSH format, download


Buy $9.95

13,000 Custom shapes for Photoshop CC 2018 2017 2015 2014 CS6 CS5 etc and Photoshop elements including many different arrow designs as well as gradients 13,000 Custom shapes for Photoshop and Elements gallery

There are infinite arrow designs possible and infinite ways of creating them, this tutorial will show a very basic arrow but clearly you could create all kinds of arrows, double arrows, multiple arrowheads and arrow feathers.


This design is a vector arrow but the arrow can be distorted, combined, transformed, parts removed etc and also used as an arrow brush, arrow pattern design and more


The key thing for the tutorial is to have the view menu and show and smart guides ON

  1. Go to the rectangle tool

  2. Set to shape option and set color to black

  3. Draw a thin long rectangle in the middle of the document

  4. Go to the polygon tool

  5. Set the sides to three (turn off star option etc)

  6. Draw a triangle and make certain that the sharp end is pointing towards the far right of the document

  7. Use the smart guides to align the rectangle and triangle align vertically

  8. Re-size the triangle / thin as required for the arrow shape

  9. Select both shapes and layer menu and combine shapes and unite command

Photoshop arrow feathers and how to quickly add them to the arrow

arrow photoshop feathers shapes

With the above arrow, you could just finish and that is that for the basic arrow but you can always add some feathers which are just very thin rectangles position at the other end of the arrow at 45 degrees.

  1. Go to the rectangle tool in the toolbar

  2. Create a thin rectangle

  3. Rotate 45 degrees

  4. You can use the alt / opt to duplicate a thin rectangle and place them at the end of the Photoshop arrow and perhaps duplicate three or four times and place on top side of the arrow at the far end of the end (relative to the arrowhead)

  5. You can select all those thin rectangles via the layers panel and use the alt / option to duplicate the arrow feathers and transform / move them to the bottom of the arrow

  6. Use the edit menu and transform command and flip horizontal command (mirroring the top feathers).

  7. You can then select the entire shape via the layers panel

  8. Go to the layer menu and combine shapes and unite and that is your basic vector arrow with feathers

Again, the smart guides should prove useful for the alignment of the feathers as you move them as the smart guides will show the vertical and horizontal alignment of the lines as well as the groupings of the lines in the layers.


You may wish to lock the main arrow Photoshop shape to make it easier to add the feathers and that can be done by selecting the main arrow shape and then going to the layer menu and selecting the lock layers command and selecting all.


Of course, all kinds of feathers could be added to the Photoshop arrow such as wavy ones, curved ones, actual feathers and so on. The above ones are the most basic feathers to be added but many of the arrows I have created generally don't have them especially as I combine the Photoshop arrows in many different ways such as frames and circular designs or perhaps as a maze etc

Drawing with the arrow shape as a shape and as a brush stroke etc

arrow pattern in Photoshop create tutorial

Ok, Now you have an arrow (and this is only one of many), you can also use the arrow as an arrow custom shape, arrow brush, arrow pattern etc. To create a custom shape

  1. Select all the arrow shape using the direct selection tool

  2. Edit menu and define custom shape

You can now draw with the arrow shape

To create the artwork as an arrow brush or arrow pattern, simply flatten the artwork and then

  1. Edit menu

  2. Define brush or define pattern command

If you want to use the arrow with transparency with the pattern, I would suggest that you delete the background layer before you use the define pattern command otherwise you will end up with the current image or solid color as the background to your pattern and the tile will then not be as effective.


You can also save the arrow shape as a PSD file via the file save command in Photoshop and then use the artwork as an arrow displacement map. You can also apply styles to the arrow or perhaps actions such as creating a rusty look to the arrow or perhaps adding a metallic finish to the arrow.


Other effects can be added to blur or smudge or add additional color or discolorisation to the artwork. Or perhaps just adding a golden glow or gradient overlay and stroke around the Photoshop arrow

Arrows to buy and use in your projects

1. arrow fonts and eps artworks for Microsoft Word, Elements, PSP, Affinity Photo etc

2. arrow custom shapes for Photoshop and elements


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