Revision Date: 12 June 2016

Shapes Tool Shapes Tool

There is a new tool for creating shapes in the Shapes Tool.  This new tool replaces the Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse and the Freeform Shape tools found in 3.5x.

The new Shape Tool has 27 predefined shapes. 8 Basic shapes, 6 Polygon or Star shapes, 4 Arrows, 4 Callout shapes and 5 Symbols.

Preset Shape
Preset Shapes

The different Shapes are selectable from the drop down menu in the Tool Bar when the Shapes Tool is active.

Basic Shapes

Polygons & Stars





Pressing A cycles through the shapes when the Shapes tool is active ( Shift + A cycles backwards ).

To create a shape, click on the shape type in the Tool Bar menu and drag the shape out on the canvas.  The shape will be created in Edit mode. In Edit mode, the shape is not fixed and can be altered in size, orientation, fill and color along with anti-aliasing options and blend modes.  All these options are available from the Tool Bar when the Shapes Tool is active. Click the Finish button in the Tool Bar to commit the shape to the active layer.


When creating a Shape, hold down the Shift key to maintain the original height and width ratio.

The draggable control nubs transform the shape. Click and drag these to relocate them. Dragging one nub over the one diametrically opposite has the effect of flipping the shape.

Moving a Shape

Before a Shape is committed to the canvas, it can be moved anywhere on the canvas. Click and drag the pulsing four-arrows-in-a-square icon (see diagram below) using the Left Mouse Button to reposition the Shape.

A Shape can also be moved by positioning the pointer inside the Shape. It will turn into a four way arrow. Click and drag with the Left Mouse Button to move the Shape.

Move Shape Cursor
Four way icon to move a Shape

The keyboard arrow keys can also be used to move a Shape.  A single key press moves the object by one pixel in the direction of the arrow. Simultaneously holding the Ctrl key moves the object by 10 pixels per arrow key press.

Rotating a Shape

Before a Shape is committed to the canvas, it can be rotated.

The Rotation Point determines the center of rotation. It looks like a circle with a cross inside it (see diagram below) and is initially located in the center of the Shape. Click and drag the Rotation Point to relocate it (it can be moved outside the Shape or even off-canvas).

Rotate the Shape about the Rotation Point using the Right Mouse Button to click and drag.  An alternative is to position the cursor just outside the Shape when it will become a double headed curved arrow (see diagram below).  This indicates the Shape can be rotated about its center by clicking and dragging using the Left Mouse button.

Rotate Shape Cursor
Rotate Shape Cursor

If the Shift key is held down while rotating the angle of rotation is snapped to 15 degree increments.

The keyboard arrow keys can also be used to rotate a Shape while the Right Mouse Button is held down.

Committing a Shape to the canvas

Commit the Shape to the active layer and exit editing mode using any one of these methods…

  1. Press the Enter key
  2. Click outside of the bounding box of the current Shape.
  3. Click Finish in the Tool Bar
  4. Draw a new Shape.

Draw Mode

Shapes are able to be drawn in three distinct modes; Shape Outline, Filled Shape and Filled Shape with Outline.  The first two options use the Primary Color if the Left Mouse button is used or the Secondary color if the Right Mouse button is used.  In the Filled Shape with Outline mode, the fill will be the Secondary color and the outline the Primary color if the Left Mouse button is used.  The Right mouse button reverses this coloration.


Shapes can be forced to have equal height and width by holding down the Shift key while dragging out the shape.

Brush Size and Style

Shapes are subject to the Brush settings in the Tool BarBrush Width & Line Styles are all configurable.

Line Styles
Line Styles

Fill Styles

Shapes can be rendered using a Fill Type as specified in the Tool Bar. This feature allows the Shape to be filled with one of numerous patterns rather than a solid color.

Fill Styles
Fill Styles

Fills utilizing a fill style will make use of both the Primary and Secondary colors.


There are two antialiasing modes associated with the Shapes tool.

Antialiasing Modes
Antialiasing Modes

These settings determine whether the lines used to create the Shape are rendered in a clip-to-pixel mode or not.

The effect of antialiasing
The effect of antialiasing on lines

When Antialiasing is enabled, lines will appear slightly thicker and smoother (upper example).

When Antialiasing is disabled, lines are rendered in solid pixels and appear more jagged and thinner (lower example).

Antialiasing can be switched on or off via the Tool Bar when the Text tool is active.

Blend Modes

Shapes can be applied using a Blend Mode selected from the Tool Bar.  The Shape will be applied in accordance with the other parameters then reinterpreted as if the pixels were on their own layer with the layer blend mode set.

Tool Bar Blend modes
Tool Bar Blend Modes

Example - Shape Styles

Example 1
With Draw Shape Outline selected in toolbar
Example 2
Outlined Shapes
Example 3
With Draw Filled Shape selected in toolbar
Example 4
Filled Shapes
Example 5
With Draw Filled Shape With Outline selected in toolbar
Example 6
Outline and Filled Shapes

Custom Shapes's built-in Shapes cannot be deleted or modified, however you can add new Shapes or create your own.

Shapes are rendered from customized XAML files. One file is required for each Shape.

XAML Shape files must be copied into the folder and restarted before new Shapes will show up in the drop down list.

Custom Shapes
Custom Shapes installed

The best place to find free pre-made custom Shapes is the forum: Shapes forum

To install custom shapes see this guide by forum Administrator BoltBait: How To Install Custom Shapes

If you wish to create your own Shapes, you may find these links useful...

How To Create Custom Shapes