Pixelmator Tip #22 – How To Create And Edit Shapes (The Basics)

Ninja Share:

In this tutorial, we want to show you the basics of how to create and edit shapes using the easy to use tools that Pixelmator gives you. Think of shapes as a basic objects that we can mould and make anything we want to.

This tutorial will help you hone your skill before moving onto more complex tutorials such as Tip #7, Tip #18, or Tip #19. This is one of our most requested tutorial by our ninja community – hope you like it.

So let’s get started…

Creating Shapes

There are a number of ways you can create shapes.

Create shapes using the basic shapes toolbar.


Create shapes using the custom shapes toolbar in Vectormator mode (CMD+Shift+V).


We showed you how to import and export your customs shapes in Tip #7 already, so go check that tutorial out if you haven’t already.

Create shapes using the pen tool.

Select the pen tool, and just click various point and close the path to make a shape. Hold down shift before clicking on your next point, to keep the lines horizontal, vertical, or at 45 degree angles. Once you click on a  point,  if you hold the click and drag the mouse, you can adjust the angle of the line to make some nice shapes. After you create the shape you want, you can adjust the layer styles such as fill, stroke, gradients etc.


Lines can also be shapes, if used properly.

You can use lines as shapes, and we use lines a lot for creating finer details in a shape design. By adjusting stroke thickness you can have a nicely rounded straight line shape.


Editing Shapes

Let’s take one of the most basic shapes available to us in Pixelmator, a square, and use this as a guide for the rest of the tutorial.

Shapes can be edited using the transform tools.

Transform tools can be accessed in the settings on the  menu.


or by right-clicking on the shape, select Transform, and choosing the option you require.


If you want to do some more precise and custom transformations, sizing, or rotations, you can do this using the free transform (CMD+F) toolbar.


Shapes can be edited using their shape handles.

Every shape has two sets of editing handleswhite handles, and red handles/path handles. The white handles will appear as soon as you add a shape (as shown in the previous pictures), and these allow you to adjust the basic parameters of the shape, such as height, width, and size. All you need to do is click and drag the handle you want to manipulate the same weight loss basic shape – the below is the same basic square shape, duplicated many times, and quickly shaping them using the white handles.


The red handles/path handles need to be activated for each shape. Ensure you select a shape, as the following won’t work after you convert to pixels.

The red handles can be activated in the settings toolbar.


or control-click a shape and select Make Editable.


When activated the red handles are overlaid on top of the white handles. These handles allow you to edit the path of  your shape, which is where the real fun can be had.


You can only edit one shape at a time using the red handles. Each path handle can be moved independently. You can also select multiple path handles together and move them at the same time. Holding down shift will restrict the movement through the horizontal, vertical, or 45degree angles.


Adjust the shape path to sharp or smooth curve.

You can set the path handle to be a sharp or smooth curve options, which would either give you sharp corners, or curved lines. To change this setting for the entire shape, control-click on the shape and choose either Smooth Path or Sharp Path. In our example, we’ll choose to make the square smooth.


The square is now rounded as the path between each point has been angled slightly.


You can also adjust this setting for each red handle. Control-click a red handle, and choose either smooth or sharp – for our square shape, it is set to a default of sharp, so let’s change it to smooth for one of the red handles.


Now we have only one of the points set to a smooth curve.


You’ll notice that when you have selected a smooth curve red handle, it show a set of handlebars. These handlebars adjust the angles between the selected handle and its neighbours. Have fun adjusting these handlebars and creating some great curves.

tip22-17Add or remove points in a shape.

To remove a point, control-click a red handle, or you can also select the red handle and hit backspace to delete the point.

tip22-18tip22-20To add a point, control-click the place where you want to add the point (and these can only be the edges of the shape rather than anywhere in the fill of the shape), and select Add Point.


You can add as many points as you want.

tip22-21and then adjust these new red handles in the same way we showed you above, to create even more complex shapes.



That’s it for this Pixelmator tutorial, hope you find it useful to hone  your shape making skills.


Oops. Comments are now closed on this post!
%d bloggers like this: