How to Create Polygons and Stars in InDesign

Geometric abstract polygonal background
Learn how to draw polygons in InDesign. PASIEKA / Getty Images

In addition to rectangles and ellipses, you can draw polygons with up to 100 sides in Adobe InDesign. There is no shortcut key for the Polygon Tool, so you'll need to choose the tool from the Toolbar, where it is nested beneath the Rectangle Tool.

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Using the Polygon Tool

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Polygon Frames and Shapes are accessed from the Frame & Shape Tool flyouts. Jacci Howard Bear

Use the Polygon Tool to create a polygon shape with whatever fills, outlines and effects that you want to apply. 

You set the number of sides of your polygon by double-clicking on the Polygon Tool in the Toolbar to bring up the Polygon Settings dialog where you can change the number of sides of any selected polygon or set the number of sides for polygons you want to draw. The Polygon Settings box has an entry field for Number of Sides and a field for Star Inset, which is used when you are drawing stars. 

Holding the Shift key while drawing polygon forces all sides to be the same length. If you want an irregular polygon shape, adjust the polygon after you draw it using the Direct Selection Tool in the Toolbar. Grab individual anchor points and move them around or use the Convert Direction Point Tool, nested under the Pen Tool and accessible with the Shift+C keyboard shortcut. Use it to turn sharp corners into rounded corners.

TIP: With the Polygon Shape Tool selected, clicking once anywhere on the page brings up a Polygon Dialog box that includes fields for setting Polygon Height and Polygon Width as well as the settings for Number of Sides and Star Inset. Fill in the fields, click OK and the shape appears on the screen.

 

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Drawing Stars

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Start with a polygon then let InDesign add anchor points and move them around to create all kinds of star frames or shapes. Jacci Howard Bear

You can draw hundreds of star shapes using the Polygon Tool.

Without a preview, it can take some trial and error to get the star just right, but once you understand how the Star Inset works, it's easy.

  1. Choose the Polygon Tool. There is no shortcut key for the Polygon Tool. It is nested under the Rectangular Shape Tool in the Toolbar.
  2. With the Polygon Tool selected, click on the page to bring up the Polygon Settings dialog to specify Number of Sides and Star Inset.
  3. Enter a number into the Number of Sides field that corresponds to the number of points you want on your star.
  4. Enter a Star Inset percentage that affects the depth or size of the star points.
  5. Drag the cursor across the work area. InDesign doubles the number of anchor points in your polygon and moves every other anchor point and toward the center of the shape by the percentage you specify.

TIP: With the Polygon Tool selected, clicking once anywhere on the page brings up a Polygon Dialog box that includes fields for setting Polygon Height and Polygon Width as well as the Polygon Settings for Number of Sides and Star Inset. Fill in the fields, click OK and the shape appears on the screen.

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Create and Fine-Tune Your Star Shapes

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See the instructions, below, for creating these kinds of star shapes in Adobe InDesign. Jacci Howard Bear

If you don't have the time or inclination to experiment, there are settings you can use to create several specific star shapes. Alter the settings to create even more stars. The numbers correspond to the numbered star shapes in the illustration.

  1. Basic 5-Point Star. For a perfect 5-point star such as those on the U.S. or Texas flags, draw a 5-sided polygon with a Star Inset of 50% and the same height and width.
  2. Gold Seal Style Star. Try a 20-sided polygon with a Star Inset of just 15%
  3. Gold Seal Style Star. Another gold seal version might have 30 Sides with a 12% Star Inset. Hold the Shift key while drawing to keep it a perfectly circular seal.
  4. Starburst. To create a starburst shape with irregular points, start with a polygon of 14 sides and an 80% Star Inset. Use the Direct Selection Tool to select some of the outer anchor points and move them in toward the center of the star or out away from the center to vary the length of the star arms.
  5. Asterisk or Square Point Star. For a star shape with rectangular points, begin with a 16-sided polygon with a 50% Star Inset. Then, using the Delete Anchor Point Tool from the Pen flyout, delete every other one of the inset anchor points.
  6. Curvy Starburst. Another irregular star shape starts with a polygon with 7 sides and a 50% Star Inset. Use the Direct Selection Tool to move some of the outer anchor points. Then use the Convert Direction Point Tool on just the inside anchor points to make them into curves. Do this by clicking the anchor point with the tool and dragging it slightly to reveal its handles. You can select the anchor or its handles to manipulate the curve to get it like you want it.

TIP: With the Polygon Tool selected, clicking once anywhere on the page brings up a Polygon Dialog box that includes fields for setting Polygon Height and Polygon Width as well as the Polygon Settings for Number of Sides and Star Inset. Fill in the fields, click OK and the shape appears on the screen.