Understand InDesign CS5 Drawings - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

You can add drawings, such as a star shape or a curved line, to any InDesign Creative Suite 5 publication. A star drawing might liven up a yearbook page, while a curve line might serve as a path for text on a page.

Whatever it is you need to do, you can draw shapes and paths to get the job done.

Paths and shapes

Paths can take a few different formats. They can be open or closed and with or without a stroke.

  • Path: The outline of a shape or object. Paths can be closed and have no gaps, or they can be open like a line on the page. You can draw freeform paths, such as squiggles on a page, freely by hand.

  • Stroke: A line style and thickness that you apply to a path. A stroke can look like a line or like an outline of a shape.


Paths contain points where the direction of the path can change. You can make paths by using freeform drawing tools, such as the Pen or Pencil tools, or by using the basic shape tools, such as Ellipse, Rectangle, Polygon, or Line.

The shape tools create paths in a predefined way so that you can make basic geometric shapes, such as a star or ellipse. All you need to do is select the shape tool and drag to create the shape. Creating shapes this way is a lot easier than trying to create them manually using the Pen or Pencil tool.


You can change shapes into freeform paths, like those drawn with the Pencil or Pen tools. Similarly, you can make freeform paths into basic shapes. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about which tool you initially choose.

Points and segments

Paths are made up of points and segments.


  • Point: Where a path changes somehow, such as a change in direction. Many points along a path can be joined with segments. Points are sometimes called anchor points. You can create two kinds of points.

    • Corner points: Have a straight line between them. Shapes such as squares and stars have corner points.

    • Curve points: Occur along a curved path. Circles or snaking paths have lots of curve points.

  • Segment: A line or curve connecting two points — similar to connect-the-dots.