How to Draw an Arrow in Photoshop CS5: A Step-by-Step Guide

Drawing an arrow in Photoshop CS5 is a simple process that involves selecting the line tool, drawing a straight line, and then adding arrowheads in the options bar. After creating the arrow, you can customize it further with color, width, and other stylistic choices.

Once you’ve drawn your arrow, you can use it in various ways, such as directing attention to a specific part of an image or creating a flowchart. It’s a handy skill that can enhance your graphic design projects.


Arrows are everywhere. We see them on street signs, maps, and diagrams. They’re an essential element in visual communication, guiding the viewer’s eye and pointing out important information. In graphic design, the ability to draw an arrow can be particularly useful, whether you’re creating a user interface for a website or illustrating a step-by-step process. Photoshop CS5, despite being an older version of Adobe’s powerful image editing software, still remains a popular tool among many graphic designers, owing to its robust features and user-friendly interface.

Drawing an arrow might seem like a trivial task, but it can sometimes be more challenging than expected, especially if you’re looking for a particular style or angle. Knowing how to do it properly in Photoshop CS5 can save you time and help you create more professional-looking work. This article is perfect for beginners who are just getting started with Photoshop or anyone who needs a quick refresher on how to draw an arrow.

Step by Step Tutorial: Drawing an Arrow in Photoshop CS5

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand that the following instructions will help you create a basic arrow. You can always experiment with the settings to create different arrow styles that suit your design needs.

Step 1: Select the Line Tool

To start drawing your arrow, you need to select the line tool from the toolbar.

Selecting the line tool is the first step in creating your arrow. You can find it in the toolbar on the left side of the Photoshop interface. If you don’t see it, it might be hidden under the rectangle tool, so click and hold on the rectangle tool to reveal it.

Step 2: Draw a Straight Line

Click and drag on your canvas to draw a straight line. This will be the shaft of your arrow.

When drawing the line, you can hold down the Shift key to make sure it’s perfectly horizontal or vertical. You can also adjust the line’s length by dragging your cursor further away or closer to the starting point.

Step 3: Add Arrowheads in the Options Bar

With the line still selected, check the ‘Arrowheads’ box in the options bar and adjust the size as needed.

In the options bar at the top of the screen, you’ll see a checkbox labeled ‘Arrowheads’. Checking this box will add an arrowhead to one or both ends of your line. You can adjust the width and length of the arrowhead to get the look you want.


Easy to FollowThe steps are straightforward and easy to understand, making it simple for anyone, even those with no prior Photoshop experience, to follow along and achieve the desired result.
CustomizableOnce you’ve drawn the basic arrow, you can easily customize it to fit your design needs, whether that means changing the color, size, or arrowhead style.
VersatileArrows can be used in a variety of design projects, from highlighting important information on a graphic to creating detailed flowcharts or diagrams.


Limited StylesThe default arrowheads in Photoshop CS5 are limited in style, so if you’re looking for something more unique, you might need to create it from scratch or find custom shapes online.
Learning CurveWhile the process is simple, beginners might still need to familiarize themselves with Photoshop’s interface and tools before feeling comfortable drawing arrows.
Software LimitationsPhotoshop CS5 is an older version of the software, which could mean compatibility issues with newer operating systems and limitations compared to newer versions of Photoshop.

Additional Information

When drawing an arrow in Photoshop CS5, the possibilities are endless. You can play around with layer styles to add effects such as drop shadows or glows, making your arrow stand out more. You can also use the transform tool to skew or rotate your arrow for dynamic compositions. If you need a curved arrow, you can create a path with the pen tool and then stroke it with a brush that has arrowhead settings applied.

Another useful tip is to use the duplicate layer function to create multiple arrows that are consistent in style and size, which can be especially helpful when creating diagrams or infographics. Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you work with Photoshop’s tools, the more efficient and creative you’ll become in your designs.


  1. Select the line tool from the toolbar.
  2. Click and drag to draw a straight line.
  3. Add arrowheads in the options bar and adjust their size.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I want a curved arrow instead of a straight one?

You can use the pen tool to draw a curved path and then stroke it with a brush that has arrowhead settings applied to create a curved arrow.

Can I change the color of my arrow?

Yes, once you’ve drawn your arrow, you can change its color by adjusting the stroke color in the options bar or using layer styles.

How do I make my arrow thicker or thinner?

You can adjust the weight of your arrow by changing the stroke size in the options bar.

Is it possible to add two arrowheads to one line?

Absolutely, in the arrowheads settings in the options bar, you can add an arrowhead to both ends of your line.

Can I save my arrow as a custom shape for future use?

Yes, once you’re happy with your arrow, you can define it as a custom shape by selecting Edit > Define Custom Shape.


Drawing an arrow in Photoshop CS5 might seem like a small task, but it’s an essential skill for any designer or Photoshop enthusiast. Whether you’re annotating images, creating instructional materials, or designing interface elements, knowing how to create a clean, professional-looking arrow can make all the difference.

Remember, the key to mastering Photoshop is experimentation and practice. So go ahead, give it a try, and soon you’ll be drawing arrows like a pro!

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