How to Draw Diagrams with Photoshop

Photoshop, the graphics program available as part of the Adobe Creative Suite, offers tools to transform your digital photographs, but the program is also a complete drawing and sketching tool as well. Consider Photoshop your artist’s canvas or school chalkboard when you need to brainstorm diagrams. One benefit of drawing diagrams in Photoshop is that your work is already electronic; just e-mail it to yourself or post it on your website when you’re done, no paper or scanning required. Create detailed, intricate diagrams or simple shapes with just a few clicks in Photoshop.


1. Open Photoshop, click the “File” menu and select “New.” Type “Diagram” into the “Name” field. Type the preferred diagram dimensions into the “Width” and “Height” boxes, such as “8″ for each. Pull down the dimensions menus and select “inches” for each. Click the “OK” button to open the Photoshop workspace.

2. Double-click the top-left square of the “Color Picker,” the two overlapping coloured boxes on the bottom of the “Tools” palette. Choose a colour for the first diagram item and click “OK.”

3. Right-click the shape tool, which may look like a grey square, grey circle, line or grey star above the “Color Picker.” These tools all share the same space. From the small flyout menu, select “Custom Shape Tool.”

4. Pull down the “Shape” menu on the toolbar at the top of the screen. Select the first shape for the diagram, such as a diamond. Position your cursor on the “Diagram” box, press and hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor to form the shape.

5. Select a new colour from the “Color Picker” or leave it the same colour and choose a new shape from the “Shape” menu, such as a hexagon. Click and drag to add the shape to the diagram space.

6. Continue adding shapes until all the required shapes are in place. Right-click the “Custom Shape Tool” icon and select “Line Tool.” Change paint colours if desired. Draw lines from shape to shape, forming the tree of the diagram, such as a flow chart hierarchy. Adjust the thickness of the lines by typing a larger number in the “Weight” box on the toolbar at the top of the screen.

7. Label the shapes and diagram by clicking the “Type” tool, which looks like a “T” on the “Tools” palette. Select a font, text size and text colour on the toolbar at the top of the screen. Click each shape or line on the diagram and add text, such as the periodic element abbreviation or a mathematical calculation. Repeat to add all required text.

8. Click the “Window” menu and select “Layers.” The “Layers” palette opens with all your different shape and text layers. Click the small lined icon at the top-right of the palette. Select “Flatten Image” and all the layers merge into one. Click the “File” menu, click “Save As” and save the diagram to the computer.