Custom Shape Settings in Photoshop Tutorial

By Andrew Buckle, Updated : 2022


How to use the Photoshop custom shapes / settings panel options for the Photoshop custom shapes such as define, constrained, from center etc. You can create all kinds of designs using the different settings.

1. settings (fixed size etc)

Select the custom shape tool.Go to the top bar of Photoshop (custom shapes options).Go to the shapes (little gear) settings.Select fixed size (say) and set width and height for the shape.Apply the shape with a fixed size (and not unconstrained as default)

2. Basics of the settings / options for the Photoshop custom shapes

The Photoshop custom shapes are displayed via the presets panel (on selecting the CSH tool). The panel can hold a large range (though not every shape created on graphicxtras) as thumbnails. To use, simply select the shape. The presets panel can also be added to via the standard file menu and open command as well in later versions of Adobe ® Photoshop ® and Elements.


To use the Photoshop custom shape options / settings, you must go to the little gear

Click the gear option / settings button on top bar. Select unconstrained, defined proportions, defined size, fixed size etc

3. Shapes Settings / options - defined, fixed etc

There are additional items associated with the custom shape tool such as apply the shape as

Unconstrained.Defined proportions.Defined size.Fixed size.From center

4. Settings / options defined proportions (constrained)

Select custom shape tool.Select defined size (set size as required).Go to the document.Click and repeat click to add the fill over the entire document (great for a nozzle like effect for shapes)

The defined proportions applies the artwork as defined the proportions set by the original shape before being saved as a custom shape. Great for keeping the presets in proportion to one another.


So if you have a custom shape with a size of 10px by 10px, you can then set it as 100px and 100px or 200px and 200px or 2px and 2px etc and they will all be in that proportion.


If the custom shape was created with a size of 100px (horizontal) and 200px Vertical) then any created custom shapes using the panel options in Photoshop will be 10px / 20px or 30px / 60px etc

5. Photoshop custom shapes - Defined size

This just uses the custom shape as was originally set which may be of little use if the created size was quite small. Many of my custom shapes sets were created with documents sized about 300 x 300px which means that the defined size sets them to around that value.


Still, it is useful for adding the shapes with a set size that you may have defined for a particular project such as perhaps having a building size or architectural item or an engineering shape set to 1000px and 500px and then whenever you use it in your projects, the defined size command adds the artwork exactly to that size.

6. Fixed size and Photoshop custom shapes

The fixed size panel option is useful for a nozzles like / brush apply of the shapes. You can set the fixed size to 100px by 100px etc and all the shapes will then be applied (whether in proportion or not) the same size over and over by a click of the document. You can also drag the shape into position. It is a pity there is no 'pressure sensitive setting' so the fixed size can be increased or decreased based on the pressure to the maximum set 'fixed size'

7. Photoshop custom shapes - Unconstrained

The default option and possibly the easiest to use to apply the shapes as you want and in any position or proportion. The options work with all the shape types as well.

Go to the custom shapes settings / options panel.Click unconstrained.Apply the shapes and stretch and distort left and right and top to bottom

8. Custom shapes / settings / options: from center

Probably the oddest one to work with as it just creates the artwork from the center (click) outwards.


However it does have a use in that it makes it very easy to line things up especially when you combine this with grids and guides - so view menu and add a guide and then use the from center to position the shape each and every time with that as the center, no need for alignment

9. Restoring shapes - legacy etc


The shape sets can be deleted by accident, if that has happened to you, you can restore the Adobe ones very quickly by going to the window menu and shapes and then going to the right side menu of the displayed panel and then selecting the append command to return the current designs and so select the legacy command to return all the old legacy shapes to the panel. You then have all the designs again to use as vectors in the application.