How to Create Triangles in Photoshop

A good graphic designer knows when to use other shapes in their designs, and the triangle comes in many forms–the isosceles, scalene and an equilateral, to name a few. Whether you’re new to Photoshop or you’ve mastered the program, there will come a time when you need to use a triangle in your design, but where to find it? A better question is: how do you even create one?

When you first fire up Photoshop to create something, you may have noticed that Photoshop offers a very in-depth toolbox, full of tools for just about any situation or design. What you won’t find is a dedicated tool for creating triangles. It’s rather unfair, considering there’s the Rectangle Tool, the Rounded Rectangle Tool, Ellipse Tool, the Polygon Tool, the Line Tool and lastly, a Custom Shape Tool.

Conventional wisdom might tell you the Custom Shape Tool is perfect for the job, until you realize it’s rather impossible to create a triangle equal on all sides, and if you do, you went through a lot of work to make it happen. If that’s what you want to do, then go for it; more power to you. However, the Custom Shape Tool is being tossed aside for quicker, easier methods of creating triangles in Photoshop.

Use the Polygon Tool

Use the Polygon Tool and you’ll probably end up creating a shape that has too many sides; you don’t want that, obviously. What makes the Polygon Tool very useful is the fact that you can add and subtract the number of sides that your shape has. You know what else makes it great? All the sides are of equal length. If you were looking to make a triangle with equal sides–an equilateral triangle–the Polygon Tool is for you.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Locate and launch the Photoshop program and start a new project. For the uninitiated, the desktop icon is blue and purple with “Ps” etched in the center.

Click File in the top left corner of the program or screen, which will open a drop down menu. Click New at the very top of the drop down menu. Any size will do as long as you have room to use the Polygon Tool.

click the rectangle tool

2. On the left hand side, you’ll notice the intimidating set of tools that Photoshop offers. You can ignore all of them except the Shape Tool. The Shape Tool’s icon is that of a rectangle (or the last shape it was used for) but the outline is completely solid, sandwich in between a “T” and magnifying glass and near the bottom of the toolbar. Clicking it will open a small menu.

Don’t pick the tool that has a dotted outline; it isn’t the Shape Tool.

click the polygon Tool

3. In the menu, click the Polygon Tool. Go ahead and use it on your blank canvas. You’ll notice that, by default, the Polygon Tool creates a 5-sided shape–a pentagon. Obviously, you don’t want that.

Click that box and type in 3

4. After you click the Polygon Tool, look to the very top (and a little to the left) of the Photoshop window. You’ll see “Sides,” followed by a box with a number on it. By default, it’s set as “5.” Click that box and type in 3.

5. Now head back down to your empty canvas and use the Polygon Tool by clicking and dragging your cursor. You have just created an equilateral triangle. You can rotate, shrink and expand the shape as you see fit by grabbing the points around the shape when selected.

Use the Line Tool

So, you’re looking to go more freehand with your triangle–disregarding the length of sides–then look no further than the Line Tool.

1. On the left hand side, you’ll see your toolbar. Click the Shape Tool. Look for an icon resembling a shape, usually a rectangle. However, if you used it before, it will be the shape you last used it for. You can find it in between the “T” icon and magnifying glass icon.

use the line tool

2. In the menu, click the Line Tool. Go ahead and use it on your blank canvas. To make a triangle with it, you’ll have to create 3 separate lines, each connected to one another by their ends.

Bottom Line

As you may have already realized, it’s pretty easy to create a triangle with Photoshop, even if Photoshop doesn’t dedicate an entire tool to it, which it should. There’s a few different triangles and not all of them have equal sides.

But, at any rate, the Line Tool and the Polygon Tool are all you need. Use the Polygon Tool for more precise triangles when you need a triangle with equal sides. As for the Line Tool, it’s good for creating the triangles that don’t all have equal sides, like isosceles and scalene triangles.