How to Create Polygons and Stars in InDesign

The Polygon tool customizes various polygons and star shapes

What to Know

  • Double-click the Polygon tool. In the Polygon settings, add a polygon or change the number of sides of a selected polygon.
  • Draw a star: Click the Polygon tool, click the page. Next to Number of Sides, enter the number of star points. In Star Inset, enter a percentage.
  • Apply default settings to create star shapes, including a 5-point star, Gold Seal style star, Starburst, Asterisk, or Curvy Starburst.

This article explains how to draw polygons with up to 100 sides, as well as stars, 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. These instructions work for Adobe InDesign CC 2020, although this functionality has long existed in the platform.

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Using the Polygon Tool

Polygon InDesign tool

Use the Polygon Tool to create a polygon with specific fills, outlines, and effects. 

Set the number of sides of your polygon by double-clicking 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. The Polygon settings box includes an entry field for Number of Sides and a field for Star Inset, which is used when you are drawing stars. 

Check the fly-out menu for the Rectangle tool to locate the Polygon tool, if it's not already in your toolbar.

Holding the shift key while drawing polygon forces all sides to be the same length. For an irregular polygon shape, adjust the polygon after you draw it using the Direct Selection tool. 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.

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Drawing Stars

Polygon tool

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.

With the Polygon tool selected, click on the page to bring up the Polygon settings dialog to specify Number of Sides and Star Inset.

Enter a number into the Number of Sides field that corresponds to the number of points you want on your star.

Enter a Star Inset percentage that affects the depth or size of the star points.

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.

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Create and Fine Tune Your Star Shapes

Modify Stars

If you don't have the time or inclination to experiment, apply default settings 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 five-point star such as those on the U.S. or Texas flags, draw a five-sided polygon with a Star Inset of 50 percent and the same height and width.
  2. Gold Seal Style Star. Try a 20-sided polygon with a Star Inset of just 15 percent.
  3. Gold Seal Style Star. Another gold seal version might have 30 sides with a 12 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 seven sides and a 50 percent 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. Click the anchor point with the tool and dragging it slightly to reveal its handles. Select the anchor or its handles to manipulate the curve to get it as you want it.
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