Drawing With Shapes in Adobe InDesign

Woman having a Skype meeting
Gary Houlder / Getty Images

Sure, you could create all the vector drawings seen in the ad below using Illustrator or some other graphics software -- but you could also do it completely in InDesign. Follow along and we'll walk you through how to create funky flowers, a lava lamp, and much more for a perfectly 60's inspired advertisement.

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Take InDesign Back to the Sixties

Thrift store ad


The primary tools used for drawing all these illustrations are:

  • Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon Shape Tools
  • Convert Direction Point Tool (under Pen Tool Flyout)
  • Direct Selection Tool (white arrow in Toolbar)
  • Pathfinder

To complete your illustrations you'll also use the Fill/Stroke tools to color your shapes and the Transform tools to scale and rotate.

The Text and Layout

This tutorial does not cover the text portions of this ad but here are a few things you might want to know if you'd like to try to replicate some of the looks.


  • Headline: Candy Round BTN
  • Store Name (Bell Bottom Thrift) in Bell Bottom Laser (very apropos) and Calibri
  • Other Copy: Berlin Sans FB
  • Map Labels: Basic Sans SF

Text Effects:

  • Bell Bottom has a basic Inner Bevel effect
  • The Early Bird Sales copy has a simple Drop Shadow effect


  • 3p margins all around (InDesign default)
  • The layout uses the rule of thirds both vertically and horizontally.
  • The lava lamp occupies one vertical third.
  • The contact information and map are in the bottom horizontal third.
  • The store name is located at the upper right intersection of the thirds and around the visual center.
  • The Early Bird Sales blurb is located around the lower right intersection of the thirds.


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Drawing the First Flower

In design settings for flowers


Learning about stars in InDesign goes into more detail on turning polygons into star shapes and is useful if you've never worked with the Polygon/Star tool in InDesign.

For this example, our first flower we start with a star.

Draw a 5-Point Star

  1. Select the Polygon Shape Tool from the Shape flyout in your Tools
  2. Double-click the Polygon Shape Tool to bring up the Polygon Settings dialog
  3. Set your Polygon for 5 Sides and a Star Inset of 60%
  4. Hold the Shift key while drawing your star

Turn Star Points Into Petals

  1. Select the Convert Direction Point Tool from the Pen flyout in your tools. Click on an existing anchor point. Hold the mouse button. The handles of that anchor point will appear. If you drag the mouse now, you will be able to change an already existing curve. If a handle is already visible, if you click on the handle itself and drag it, you will also change an existing curve.  
  2. Using the InDesign Pen Tool, click and hold on the anchor point at the end of the top point of your star
  3. Drag your cursor to the left and you'll see your point transform into a rounded petal.
  4. Repeat for the other four points on your star
  5. If you want to even out your petals after converting the 5 anchor points, use the Convert Direction Point or Direct Selection tool (white arrow in your Tools) to select the handles off of each curve and drag them in or out until you like the look of your flower.

Give Your Flower a Nice Outline

  • Make a copy of your flower and set it aside (for making the second flower)
  • Choose a stroke color of your choice
  • Make the stroke thicker (5-10 points)

Fine-tune Your Flower

  • Open the Strokes panel (F10)
  • Change the Join option to Round Join (it gives a nice look to the inside corners)
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Drawing the Second Flower

Making flowers in Indesign


Our second flower also started as a Polygon/Star but we're going to save time by using a copy of our first flower.

  1. Start with the first flower. Grab that copy you made of your first flower before adding its stroke. You might want to make another copy or two just in case you mess up.
  2. Make inside corners curvy. Use the Convert Direction Point tool on the five inside anchor points of your flower
  3. Stretch flower petals. Use the Direct Selection tool to pull the outside anchor points away from the center, stretching out each of your flower petals
  4. Fine-tune your flower. Use the Direct Selection tool to grab the handles of any of your curves to fatten up the outer ends of your petals and make the inner parts of the petals thinner and get all petals to more or less the same size.
  5. Finish your flower. Once you like the look of your flower, give it a Fill and Stroke of your choosing.
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Drawing the Blob

Makinng a blob


You can make your blob any shape you want and you could start with most any kind of shape. Here's one way to do it.

  1. Make a starting shape. Draw a 6-sided polygon.
  2. Modify the shape. Use the Convert Direction Point tool on some or all anchor points dragging the polygon into any pleasing shape you want. 
  3. Color the blob. Fill the blob with a color of your choice.


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Drawing the Lamp

Making a lava lamp shape


Three shapes make up our lamp. We'll add the "lava" on the next page.

  1. Create a lamp shape. Draw a tall 6-sided polygon.
  2. Modify the lamp. With the Direct Selection tool select the two middle anchor points and drag them down, until your polygon looks like the shape in figure #2. 
  3. Add a cap shape. Draw a rectangle over the top of the lamp for the cap.
  4. Modify the cap. Select the two bottom anchor points (one at a time) with the Direct Selection tool and drag them out slightly until they look like figure #4.
  5. Add the base shape. Draw another 6-sided polygon at the bottom of the lamp for the base with its top edge just at or under the middle anchor points you moved in step 2.
  6. Modify the base. Drag the top and bottom anchors on one side of the base out until they cover the lamp. Drag a middle anchor inward, as shown. Repeat on the other side of the polygon.
  7. Color the lamp. Fill the lamp, cap, and base with the colors of your choice. 


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Drawing the Lava in the Lamp

Putting lava in the lamp


Add lava to your Lava Lamp using the Ellipse Shape tool.

  1. Draw lava. Draw some random round/oval shapes using the Ellipse Shape Tool, overlapping a small and large pair in the middle of the lamp.
  2. Make a double blob. Select the two overlapping shapes and choose Object > Pathfinder > Add to turn them into one shape.
  3. Fine-tune the double blob. Use the Convert Direction Point and Direct Selection tools to modify the curves until you get what looks like a large blob separating into two parts.
  4. Color the lava. Fill the lava shapes with a color of your choice.
  5. Move the lava. Select the cap and base of the lamp and bring them to the front: Object > Arrange > Bring to Front ( Shift+Control+] ) so they cover those blobs of lava that overlap the cap and base.
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Drawing a Simple Map

Making a map


For our ad, we don't need a complicated map of the city. Something simple and stylized works fine.

  1. Draw the roads. 
    1. Draw a long, thin rectangle to represent a road.
    2. Make several copies and use Transform > Rotate to arrange them as needed.
    3. For the most part, you can omit curves and minor zigzags in the road. If there is a significant curve in the road, edit your rectangle into a curve.
    4. Select all your roads then go to Object > Pathfinder > Add to turn them into one object.
  2. Enclose the map. Place a rectangle over your roads, covering just the portion you want to use for your map.
  3. Make the map. Select the roads and rectangle and go to Object > Pathfinder > Minus Back

To finish your map, add a rectangle to represent the destination and label the main roads.

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Assembling the Illustration

Assemble the illustration


We don't have to do much more to our Lava Lamp, Blob, and Map than just move them into position. But our flowers require a few more manipulations.

  • Take each flower and make several copies.
  • Scale, rotate and change the Fill/Stroke colors as desired.
  • Choose two or three flower shapes and apply a little bit of Feathering (Object > Effects > Basic Feather)

Groovy! Our 60s-inspired illustration is complete, and you did it all in Adobe InDesign. Just add the text to finish our Bell Bottom Thrift ad.

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Your Citation
Bear, Jacci Howard. "Drawing With Shapes in Adobe InDesign." ThoughtCo, Sep. 12, 2022, thoughtco.com/drawing-with-shapes-in-adobe-indesign-1078487. Bear, Jacci Howard. (2022, September 12). Drawing With Shapes in Adobe InDesign. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/drawing-with-shapes-in-adobe-indesign-1078487 Bear, Jacci Howard. "Drawing With Shapes in Adobe InDesign." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/drawing-with-shapes-in-adobe-indesign-1078487 (accessed May 30, 2023).