Draw InDesign CS5 Freeform Paths - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Use the Pencil and Pen tools to draw freeform paths in an InDesign Creative Suite 5 publication. Freeform paths typically look like complex lines, both curved and straight. In InDesign, you can use the Pencil and Pen tools to create simple or complex paths.

Using the Pencil tool

The Pencil tool is perhaps the easiest tool to use when drawing freeform paths.


  1. Select the Pencil tool in the Tools panel.

  2. Drag the cursor around the page.

    You’ve created a new path by using the Pencil tool.

Using the Pen tool

Using the Pen tool is different from using the Pencil tool. When you start out, the Pen tool may seem a bit complicated — but after you get the hang of it, using it isn’t hard after all. The Pen tool uses points to create a particular path. You can edit these points to change the segments between them. Gaining control of these points can take a bit of practice.

  1. Select the Pen tool in the Tools panel.

  2. Click anywhere on the page and then click a second location.

    You’ve created a new path with two points and one segment joining them.

  3. Ctrl-click (Windows) or Cmd-click (Mac) an empty part of the page to deselect the current path.

    After you deselect the path, you can create a new path or add new points to the path you just created.

  4. Add a new point to a selected segment by hovering the mouse over the line and clicking.

    A small plus (+) icon appears next to the Pen tool cursor. You can also do the same thing by selecting the Add Anchor Point tool (located on the menu that flies out when you click and hold the Pen icon in the Tools panel).

  5. Repeat Step 4, but this time click a new location on a line segment and drag away from the line.

    This step creates a curved path. The segments change and curve depending on where the points are located along the path. The point you created is a curve point.