How to draw a circle in Photoshop

By Phil Plait | April 9, 2009 2:30 pm

Over the years I’ve needed to make simple illustrations for my blog posts, but I’ve been stymied by drawing simple circles. Looking up tutorials on how to do this in PhotoShop led me to confusing, weird, or just plain incorrect methods. However, I recently wanted to draw a circle for my post on the distance to the horizon, and decided to ask an expert: The Little Astronomer, who showed me how to do it in about 20 seconds. I wrote down what she said, and what the heck: if I post it here on the blog it’s there for me to reference, and maybe it’ll help you too.

For the record, I currently use Photoshop CS3 version 8 on a Mac running OS X 10.4. I don’t think that matters much though. If it does, leave a comment! And hey, comment if you know another method too. The more the merrier.

So:

0) Do the usual thing of opening an image or creating a new one.

1) Click on the pen tool in the toolbar.

2) On the new toolbar displayed at the top, click the button with the ellipse in it.

3) Draw the circle by dragging the cursor while holding down the Shift key (otherwise you get an ellipse). What you get is not an actual drawing of a circle, but what’s called a "path". Bear with me here. Adjust the size as needed. Note: where you initially click the pen marks the center of the circle, so you might want to note the coordinates (x and y) of the center if you plan on fiddling with the circle later.

4) Go to pencil tool. Select the thickness you want (you can do this before drawing the circle too). Make sure you have the color you want selected!

5) Go back to pen tool.

Red circle
Oooooo, Ahhhhhh

6) Right click somewhere in the image. Select "Stroke Path". Options are listed. Select "Pencil" from the drop down menu.

7) Now you have the actual circle drawn. But you’ll see the dotted line still in there, which is the path from before. To delete it, right click again. Click "delete path". That gets rid of original circle path, and leaves you with a nice circle with the thickness you desire.

This may sound complicated to a newbie (like me), but it’s actually not hard at all, and you’ll see that there are lots of variations (you can make a fuzzy circle by picking the brush tool instead of the pencil, for example).

And I’m glad, because now I can make even more silly images to go with my posts. Huzzah!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: About this blog, Cool stuff

Comments (108)

Links to this Post

  1. http://www.kojj.com | April 10, 2009
  2. I love Geometry « A Man With A Ph.D. | April 10, 2009
  1. QUASAR

    The mythbusters are back!

  2. Michelle

    You can use the brush tool instead to stroke the path so you can get a nice anti-alias.

    Congratulations. :P

  3. Justin

    I just found out this works in MS Paint too!

  4. Or you could use Inkscape, which has the advantage of using vector graphics and being free.

  5. ELR

    I can remember years ago, the first time I wanted to draw a circle in PS. After 10-15 minutes of trying to find the tool to draw a circle I was screaming at the computer “All I want to do is draw a f’ing cirlce! F’ing PAINT can draw a circle, why can’t this program?” I used much more colourful language however.

  6. Hoonser

    Why is it OS X doesn’t ship with a free basic paint program? I remember back in the day using one of those old box macs and it had a paint program on it.

  7. Easier (to me):
    Select the marquee tool (M). Hold down on the marquee until it changes to the circle one (shift-M on the keyboard, you’ll see the toolbar button change).

    Again, hold down shift to draw a circle instead of an ellipse.

    Edit->Stroke->choose your options.

    Do this on a new layer so you erase/move easily. If you’re going to need it again, you can turn the selection into a path in the Paths palette.

  8. Oh, forgot a point (BA, can you edit these together?). Hold down Alt/Option when you’re drawing the circle to change the origin point from the upper-left to the center. Makes it a bit easier when you know where you want the circle to start.

  9. Sage

    This is why I use Fireworks for anything that’s not going to be printed. Its combination vector-bitmap capabilities run circles around Photoshop, especially in ease of use.

  10. BJN

    An easier way is to use the ellipse shape tool and pick the outline style preset. When you draw with the tool (constrained with the shift key for a circle) you create the same kind of outline that’s actually a mask with a 0% fill and a stroke effect. You can double click the stroke effect on the Layers palette and adjust the stroke width and color.

  11. Davidlpf

    I remember about 15 years ago drawing circles on the old macs too.

  12. TheBlackCat

    Here is how to do it in GIMP 2.6 (a free alternative to photoshop):

    1. Create a new figure.
    2. In the toolbox, select the “Ellipse Select Tool” (it should look like an ellipse, a squished circle).
    3. Click and drag to start getting an ellipse, then press the shift button to turn it into a circle (you must push shift after starting the ellipse). Resize as-needed. When you are done, release the mouse button
    4. In the menu bar, click “Select” and “To Path”.
    5. In the Layers, Channels, Paths section click the “Paths” tab. For me it is the third tab. The icon has a curve and some diagonal lines.
    6. Click the “Paint along path” icon below the list of paths. It should be a blue curve with a paint brush.
    7. Fill in the values you want. You can use a pencil or a paintbrush.
    8. You will still have the dotted line from the selection, just single clicking elsewhere in the figure should get rid of that.

    This is how it worked by default on my computer, but since you can completely reorganize GIMP it may be different.

  13. TheBlackCat

    That is a bit complicated. Here is a simpler way to explain it for GIMP:

    1. Make a circular selection with the ellipse select tool
    2. On the menu bar click “Select”->”To Path”
    3. In the paths section select your path and click “paint along paths”

  14. Jean-Denis

    I too suggest a free alternative: Geogebra.

    Click the center, clic anywhere on the perimeter, done

  15. Jean-Denis

    Not to mention that Geogebra is very nice for drawing all kinds of geometry “things”

    Geogebra is not alone in this category of dynamic geometry software. It’s free and quite well done

  16. Rob

    Seems like you could use something simpler for silly illustrations. Try Skitch. Bonus: it’s super easy to share your silly illustrations.

  17. sailor

    That is al lright for a circle but drawing shapes and wavy lines is much easier in Illustrator, these can then be saved as EPS and opened in Photoshop.

  18. Sili

    Sounds like Geogebra is the sorta thing I’ve wanted on the rare occasions I’ve wanted to try to draw something.

    Why the spock would I want to draw a circle by outlining a circumscribed square?!! Centre! Radius! Just like Euclid.

    Mumble grumble.

  19. jokergirl

    Paths are actually not very good at approaching circles in small scale or with wide strokes. Use the ellipse selection tool instead and select edit->stroke…, put in the stroke width you want and off you go.

    You can even select antialiasing of the selection from the tool menu.

    ;)

  20. I’ve been wanting to give GIMP a try and may do so when I replace my machine…which won’t be too much longer. Free is good :-)

  21. mus

    Ugh, how I hate photoshop. It’s the most annoying program I have ever worked with. It’s good for editing photos, but otherwise it’s just a huge pain.

    There are simply WAY too many settings and buttons which aren’t clearly labeled. Phil, your instructions only work if you have a VERY specific set of settings in place. I did exactly what you did, but it doesn’t work. So then I changed some settings, and it works up to a certain point, but I still can’t draw a goddamned circle.

  22. Davidlpf

    I guess the little one has been drawing circles around you for a while.

  23. Craig

    For some reason this post brought back a memory from a high school science class where my teacher claimed that “there are no straight lines, rather they are simply arcs of a circle with an infinite radius.”

    …or something like that.

    Thanks to those who suggested Geogebra; that’s a new one to me and I’ll definitely check it out.

  24. BMurray

    I know how to fix a burned out fuse with a screwdriver and gaffer’s tape too. It’s easier to put in a new fuse though.

  25. Wouldn’t it just be easier to use Adobe Illustrator? :)

  26. Mchl

    Ok.. I smell a market niche. I’m starting work on Easy Circle Creator XP.
    “Draws a circle within seconds. Just three clicks and there it is! You can then post your circle to Facebook, Myspace or use it in your favourite IM. You can attach it to email or put in the blog post too! Get it now for $12.99. Limited offer, now comes with Triangle Creator Pro!”

    :P

    I’ll second what MarkP says. Inkskape (or other vector GFX) software might suit you better for simple sketches like the one from horizon distance post.

  27. Spunk-Monkey

    Illustrator works well for generating vector art, but it’s a pain for use with raster images such as photos. PhotoShop does have some rudimentary bezier tools (under the “paths” tab), and if your image/selection has sufficient resolution, you can make that selection into a path that’s usually workable.

    I’m suspicious of anything like GIMP; over the years i’ve gotten attached to a tool or function in at least half a dozen PhotoShop alternatives that in turn go belly up. I’d rather have a convoluted work-around in PS than yet another app that will probably disappear in the near future. Geogebra does sound interesting though.

    But Phil: should you have something more involved than a circle to mess with, just hand it off to someone who’s willing to futz with the image for you. Any one of us would be glad to help, even if it’s just for Farking.

  28. Spunk-Monkey

    mus: if you really hate PhotoShop, wait until you try ZBrush. ;-)

  29. Kurt Dresner

    Photoshop is the WRONG TOOL for this job. Unless you are manipulating a photo, you should use a drawing program like Inkscape instead.

  30. um, use Illustrator.

  31. You need to take some tips from illustrator Bob Staake, who still uses Photoshop 3 for all his illustration work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7qUKv7XVx4

    As you can see, he just uses elliptical selections using the elliptical marquee tool and fills them, which is the standard way of making shapes in Photoshop. For circles, you hold the shift key as you use the tool, which constrains the shape. Then either go to Edit > Fill, or Edit > Stroke.

  32. And, sometimes extremely usful in PS and Illy: when drawing a circle (works with both the selection marquee and the path tools) if after you start to drag you hold down the option / alt key as well, then the circle draws out from the centre point

  33. justcorbly

    Or you could use Inkscape, which has the advantage of using vector graphics and being free.

    If I install Inkscape and delete Photoshop, will Adobe give me my money back?

  34. @mus
    “Ugh, how I hate photoshop. It’s the most annoying program I have ever worked with. It’s good for editing photos, but otherwise it’s just a huge pain.”
    Um, hello? PHOTOSHOP. PHOTO. SHOP. For editing photos. It’s not for drawing pictures, unless you want to draw them on photos.
    For processing astrophotos it’s freakin’ awesome.
    Or doing goofy mashups :-)

  35. mus

    “Um, hello? PHOTOSHOP. PHOTO. SHOP. For editing photos.”

    Ok, sure. But then why the hell do they include pen tools and shape tools and all of that? Clearly, they meant them to be used. However, they made it all way too complicated. Intelligent design? I don’t think so!

  36. MadScientist

    For illustrations like that one I just write a PostScript program. Gee, the next thing you know we’ll be hearing you use MSWord rather than TeX/LaTeX. That’s a pretty expensive software package to be using like “MS Paint”.

  37. The Other Ian

    I’m suspicious of anything like GIMP; over the years i’ve gotten attached to a tool or function in at least half a dozen PhotoShop alternatives that in turn go belly up. I’d rather have a convoluted work-around in PS than yet another app that will probably disappear in the near future.

    GIMP has been around for 14 years and is still actively being developed; I think it’s probably safe.

  38. David J

    Go for Inkscape or Illustrator. Inkscape is free, Illustrator isn’t, but they do the same thing – draw pictures (“vector graphics”, for pedants). Photoshop/GIMP are for doing fancy photo effects &c, not drawing.

  39. Doug

    Great … now there will be circles in EVERY diagram! The horror!!!

  40. wev

    I was so amazed to see this post. Usually I haven’t a clue about computer software but this was something I remember doing on the first Mac I owned back in the 80’s in MacDraw.

  41. Savino

    Now give us PI!

  42. Spunk-Monkey

    “Ok, sure. But then why the hell do they include pen tools and shape tools and all of that?” They included the path tools as a nod towards those of us who use it AND Illustrator; this way there’s a degree of overlap where necessary but not enough that one program can replace the other (i suspect Adobe just wants to keep the revenue streams going).

    Still, there’s definitely no right or wrong answer– there are a lot of good tools listed here. Whatever gets you the results is the right choice.

    “GIMP has been around for 14 years…”
    Perhaps, but it hasn’t been production worthy for even half that (and besides, just because NewTek still produces Lightwave doesn’t mean it’s not an epic fail). I wish you luck with it, but i’ve fallen for that before.

  43. @ Hoonser:

    Ah, MacPaint!

    And the best of them all: MacDraw! Used it only last year to draw up plans when remodeling my house.

  44. Why I prefer Corel Photopaint, apart from being a fracion of the cost:
    1) Select Circle/Ellipse Tool
    2) Hold Shift to constrain to perfect circle (or you get ellipse)
    3) Pick 2 points…

  45. The Other Ian

    “just because NewTek still produces Lightwave doesn’t mean it’s not an epic fail”

    You’re trolling, right? Because “epic fail” just aren’t the words I would use to describe software that’s been used to produce multiple movies and tv series that are well known for their special effects, regardless of my own personal experience with the product.

  46. João

    As most people said, PS isn’t really the best tool for the job. But no one mentioned a program I find much easier to do little things with than Gimp, or Draw: Xara Xtreme. I find it very intuitive, and fast. Maybe worth a try.

  47. TheBlackCat

    Perhaps, but it hasn’t been production worthy for even half that (and besides, just because NewTek still produces Lightwave doesn’t mean it’s not an epic fail). I wish you luck with it, but i’ve fallen for that before.

    By that logic, you shouldn’t use photoshop either because any day Adobe might go belly-up at any time or decide to cancel it and you will never be able to use it again.

    The advantage with Gimp is that if the people who make it ever stop, or go in a direction people don’t like, then someone else can just take over (or start their own version). The new developers don’t have to pay anything, or even ask the original developers. They can just take over and keep going. As long as there are people who want to see Gimp succeed it will always continue on.

    On the other hand if Adobe ever goes out of business or decides to stop making Photoshop, then it is over, you will never see a new version ever. There is no way for someone to take over and keep the product line going.

  48. Spunk-Monkey

    I appologize, i honestly don’t mean to troll. I have watched many film and television projects fail because of Lightwave; there are still users, but the product is a ticket to failure (much of what has been used as LW marketing art is actually rendered/keyframed/processed in other packages). I have personally worked on projects and specific shots that have been cited in NewTek promo materials and known full well that they never touched Lightwave. But for myself and many other production artists with whom i have worked, and considering the scenes i’ve picked up because a stdio was behind due to wrestling with LWs failures in particles, alpha damage from rendering to higher pixel depths, crashing from larger scenes… my experience has shown LW to truly be an epic fail. Your mileage may vary, so if you find it works for your needs, sweet!

  49. I draw nearly everything in Photoshop, but that’s because I really like its freehand brush tool combined with my Wacom tablet, and it works well with how I color my drawings too. For technical illustration I would definitely not use Photoshop. Fortunately, I don’t do technical illustration.

  50. drew

    Yet easier:

    Select the shape tool (press the U key)
    Select the ellipse from the set of shapes
    Draw the ellipse (hold down shift to make it a circle)
    In the layers palette, set the shape layer’s fill to 0%
    Layer menu > Layer Style > Stroke… to outline it.

    Done! You can press Command-T (or the windows equivalent) to move and resize it.

  51. Spunk-Monkey

    There is that potential, TheBlackCat, and in this industry you’re always learning new tools and having to start again at the ground floor with a new program at some point. So far i’ve been actively using PhotoShop for over 20 years now and it hasn’t shown any sign of disappearing so i’ll stick with it.

  52. drew

    Whoops, missed RJN’s comment. Beat me to it.

  53. Jean-Denis

    From free to very cheap:

    * Vector graphics software
    – Omnigraffle: the best for diagrams of any kinds, similar to Visio on PCs
    – Inkscape: Free
    – Lineform
    – Vector Designer
    – Intaglio

    * Dynamic geometry software
    – Geogebra: free. I love it
    – Cabri II
    – The Geometer’s Sketchpad

    * raster graphics: many, including the GIMP, Acorn, Pixelmator…, but probably not the best choice for the specific problem.

  54. alfaniner

    Great! Just add a few more pictures and you can post the whole thing on Instructables.com (another one of those time-sink websites.)

  55. ballookey

    You’re kidding right? I’d like to point out that there’s a little menu called “HELP” up there at the top of the screen and if you click on it and go down to “How to paint & draw…” there’s an option for “Draw a circle or square”.

    That’s all I’m sayin’.

  56. TheBlackCat

    @ Jean-Denis: For dynamic geometry there is also Kig. It is pretty advanced, though.

    Just out of curiosity I checked out how to do this in Krita 2.0 RC, another free, open-source image editor/creator that is still in the release-candidate stage. Steps to make a circle:

    1. Click the “Draw an ellipse” button.
    2. In the tool options set it to “Fill: Not filled” and “Outline: Brush”.
    (optional) set the brush you want
    3. Hold the shift button and drag until you get the size you want.

    Simple, straightforward, and obvious. You can get some pretty bizarre circles using different sorts of brushes. I may consider switching to Krita, it looks really powerful.

  57. Gary

    As I often do, I have learned something new from this blog today. Thanks, Phil!

  58. Spunk-Monkey

    Just curious… how many of these free and alternative apps are PC exclusive? I’m mainly wondering as Phil’s on a Mac.

  59. cunninglinguine

    I’d like proof that the copy of Photoshop was legitimately purchased.

  60. The beauty of open-source software is that it’s generally much easier to port between platforms, and what you get is generally uniform across all platforms as well, so no re-learning what you know.

    GIMP for Mac is here: http://www.gimp.org/macintosh
    Inkscape for Mac: http://www.inkscape.org/download

    Seriously, look into them. GIMP is one of the most venerable open-source projects out there, save Linux itself, and Inkscape is great for vector drawing even for a total noob like me.

  61. dziban303

    What a totally inane, asinine and banal blog post. I’ve been pretty unimpressed with this blog lately. I’m unsubscribing.

  62. theinquisitor

    Nothing beats Deluxe Paint for the Amiga.

  63. mn_monkey

    Just another vote for inkscape. You could even draw the circle in inkscape, save as a jpg, then import into photoshop (cut/paste might work too).

  64. dziban303: A concern troll about a post regarding technology? Really?

  65. fil

    I’m not getting all the Photoshop hate. It’s a professional level tool, its features are there for a reason and if you don’t need them, then clearly Photoshop is the wrong tool for you. Spoilers: if all you’re using it for is to add captions on pictures of cats, then you probably don’t need it, doubly true if you’re also using it for the lens flares.

    Photoshop is also far more versatile than photo editing, it’s also powerful illustration tool. Painter is fantastic, but if you can only have one program, you’d probably want to go for Photoshop simply because its colour utilities are better. Even for vectors, some people prefer it over Illustrator.

    Plus, Illustrator doesn’t play well with dual monitors.

    As far as circles go, is there any reason not to just use MS Paint or something to that degree?

    “On the other hand if Adobe ever goes out of business or decides to stop making Photoshop, then it is over, you will never see a new version ever. There is no way for someone to take over and keep the product line going.”

    I would keep using CS2 to the end of the Earth over GIMP. That is just how far ahead Adobe is. GIMP can’t even support CMYK.

    “The beauty of open-source software is that it’s generally much easier to port between platforms, and what you get is generally uniform across all platforms as well, so no re-learning what you know.”

    I especially love that Illustrator and Photoshop actually use different hotkeys for the same things. For example, ctrl+shift+n is New Layer in the former and I think just ctrl+n in the latter. Good job on that one, Adobe.

  66. fil

    I actually hate the different hotkeys.

    Sarcasm is difficult on the internet.

  67. stevesliva

    Make a Google Knol of this!
    http://knol.google.com

    Probably can’t now that Discover owns it, but this is exactly what a knol is.

  68. Mentat

    I must second theinquisitor’s high praise for Deluxe Paint (on the Amiga). Sure it’s way outdated now, yet there are still things I did with it that I wish I could replicate in modern programs, but somehow either can’t at all, or nowhere near as easily.

  69. Howard Day

    Gonna throw out a plug here for those of you who likey the Deluxe Paint nostalgia…
    Graphics Gale! http://www.humanbalance.net/gale/us/
    More used for pixel art nowadays, but there you go.

  70. Tim G

    I’ve been learning how to use OpenOffice.org’s Draw. That’s part of a suite of open source software supported by Sun Microsystems. I don’t know how it compares with other free software packages.

  71. Tommie

    Look, you just hold down SHIFT and then use the ELIPSE tool. It’s very easy.

  72. Jon Bastian

    Um… disappointed. I figured this out in an earlier version of PhotoShop about eight years ago…

  73. Jean-Denis

    @ theBlackcat:

    Unfortunately, Krita & Kig are poor citizen on the Mac. They might only work through MacPort or Fink.

    This is a frequent issue with open source software of Linux origins: they don’t usually look and feel native at all. See for a small example the gazillions of toolbars eating up a very significant portion of the screen real estate. This is juste poor design.

    Geogebra also suffers somewhat from that, though to a bearable extent.

    @Spunk-Money: all the software I listed is either Mac-native or at least runs on the Mac.

    To all who recommended this or that graphical piece of software: did you have a look at any dynamic geometry tool? Any reason for *not* using one? (try Geogebra if nothing else, at http://www.geogebra.org/).

  74. Utakata

    It’s fascinating what I take for vantage can baffle an astronomer.

  75. So let me get this straight – you can right-click on your Mac?

  76. Random fun fact about Photoshop: Adobe’s Almaden Tower is the greenest building in the country! (Second place is also Adobe; their East and West Towers)

  77. DLC

    Bah! software! why, back in my day, we programmed our own circles!
    None of this fancy point and click stuff! If you wanted a circle back in the day, you worked for one! None of this namby-pamby Shift-Drag -Elipse Tool!
    And now, all I can find for an example is Java. . .
    http://java.sun.com/docs/books/tutorial/2d/geometry/primitives.html

    I’m gonna go yell at the kids messing up my lawn now. If I can find my cane.

  78. shawmutt

    Another vote for inkscape and GIMP. Photoshop may be wonderful, but I’m a poor guy with simple needs and a thing against stealing software, so I make due with the excellent free stuff available.

  79. DGKnipfer

    Hey Phil,

    Hold the Alt and the Shift key down at the same time when you draw your circle to lock the center of the circle in place as you create it. That will make it easier to get an exact size circle using the background grid.

    Tell the Little Astronomer good job. She’ll get you trained up soon enough.

  80. I’m not getting all the Photoshop hate. It’s a professional level tool, its features are there for a reason and if you don’t need them, then clearly Photoshop is the wrong tool for you.

    I haven’t seen any “hate”, just people pointing out what you said: Photoshop is overkill for what most people need. It’s too expensive and overly complicated if you’re doing little drawing projects or basic image manipulation, which is why Elements exists.

    GIMP can’t even support CMYK.

    Case in point. This is a non-issue for the vast majority of users.

  81. you can right-click on your Mac?

    Uh, yeah.

  82. Sarcastro

    Why is it OS X doesn’t ship with a free basic paint program? I remember back in the day using one of those old box macs and it had a paint program on it.

    Macpaint and Macdraw shipped for free with every Mac from 1984 to 1986. After that they were bundled by Claris with Macwrite for like $100 because Apple/Claris wanted to give 3rd party developers a little love.

  83. Sarcastro

    Ah yes, the GIMP. Powerful. Fast. Interface designed by a drooling troglodyte.

    It’s an endemic problem with software made by the million monkey army; They often don’t seem to think UI design is a part of real programming, much less following UID guidelines.

    Kinda like this.

  84. Cindy

    Phil,

    What’s wrong with Xfig? Produces nice diagrams, circles are really easy, and you can make encapsulated postscript so you can include them in LaTeX files.

  85. On the one hand, it’s cool that you started your numbered list with zero, but on the other hand you probably should’ve used an ol tag.

  86. TheBlackCat

    @ Jean-Denis:

    Unfortunately, Krita & Kig are poor citizen on the Mac. They might only work through MacPort or Fink.

    Up until now. Native Mac ports of all KDE software is nearing completion, including the entire koffice line (which includes Krita) and the main KDE software line (including KDEdu, which in turns include Kig). The same is true of windows ports. This includes native themes, native appearance, native menus and dialogs, etc.

    So although your comment may have been true for the KDE 3/Koffice 1 line of software, the KDE 4/Koffice 2 line will soon work as well and look as good on Mac as any other mac software. Similarly, they will work as well and look as good on windows as any windows software. The RC version of koffice and beta versions of other KDE apps are already available.

  87. GoatTuber

    Another user of Gimp and Inkscape here. Both programs work great and do everything I need them to do, and with a $0 price tag. Compare that to Photoshop at $699 tag and Illustrator at $599.

    Yeah, Photoshop and Illustrator are great, but not $1298 worth of greatness. I can see if you need them for commercial use, but for the average person it’s just not worth it.

  88. kyle

    use the circle tool.

  89. If you ever need help when the Little Astronomer is not around, I’m in Boulder all the time. Then I can show you some wicked crazy Photoshop magic. Just think of all the cool science going on in the Photoshop code that allows you to do all that. Are you ready?

  90. I’m pretty fond of a Wacom tablet + Photoshop. I’ve never been able to get clean enough results from freeware for professional grade stuff, but for the average every day person they should be fine.

    Although now I’m on to just using a Fujitsu 5010 tablet with built in Wacom digitizer and CS3. Nothing like doing full digital work while chilling in a hammock with a tasty beverage :D

  91. LeAnn

    As a graphic design student, I find this hilarious. You could have asked us.

  92. Ben

    Or you could just use WinImages. Actually intended to be easy to use.

    o Click on the “ellipse” area tool icon
    o optionally click the “matched aspect” area tool icon to ensure a circle
    o select “color fill” as your operator
    o left-button to draw on your image. Optionally click the right button to re-anchor while drawing.

    Viola, you have a circle or an ellipse.

    If you want an unfilled circle, select the outline icon. If you want to draw with a brush instead of a pen, select the brush operator instead of the color fill operator and pick a brush. Other menu options let you pick draw from center or draw from corner. There’s even a mode that allows you to create selections without drawing, like Photoshop does (a waste of steps in most cases, but it’s there for you) so you can apply the operator to the selection later.

    Or, you can spend $700 more for Photoshop and spend your time scratching your head while congratulating yourself for buying what everyone else buys.

    Adobe is better at marketing than they are at making friendly graphics software. 99% of the people who buy Photoshop are like 3rd graders who bought a science lab. They own it, all right, but they have no idea how to use it. But they sure are *proud* they own the “industry standard!”

  93. Phil has CS2, so getting a new program is silly. I need to make a lot of circles in my job. I prefer the “center-out” method:

    1. select the ellipse tool (first one in the pallete)
    2. on the top pull-down menu, select “fixed ratio” ( normal & fixed size are the other choices)
    3. hold down option key (ALT on a PC) drag a circle selection from a centerpoint.
    4. move selection with arrow keys, fill or stroke as needed,

    KP

  94. Pieter Kok

    Cindy, you can include pretty much everything in a LaTeX document these days (use pdflatex). But I prefer eps figures so you can use the psfrag package to replace labels with LaTeX output.

    BTW, is there xfig for windows?

  95. coolstar

    Next time ask the Little Astronomer about the dozens of programs you can use to draw circles that DO NOT require 7 steps and writing yourself complicated instructions so you can do it again next time!

  96. coolstar

    Left out an adjective above: “free” programs.

  97. Phil there’s an easier way.

    1) Use eliptical marquee tool with shift held to draw a perfect circle selection
    2) Edit > stroke then set the numerical value for the circles’ line width
    3) Send me a free signed copy of your latest book for saving you probably hours over the next 10 years.

  98. Another vote for Inkscape – open source drawing package like Illustrator.

  99. Luigi

    It’s crazy what a brouhaha the drawing of a circle can cause…!

  100. lilred_156

    I have a love hate realtionship with Photoshop right now. I love to use it to edit photos but in one of my classes we have to use it for everything from editing photos to making websites. I hate the fact that I know there is an easier way and or program to use for some of these other process but can’t use them. For instance I know there is a way to regulate the exact size of the circle, example 5 pixals wide and 8 pixals high but can’t seem to find the right button. ARGH!!!

  101. Tim

    Couldnt they make it more complex…..add about 15-20 extra steps to draw a circle……why make it so difficult, and oh by the way. The directions above did not work for me. I get a circle but its filled in. I want an empty circle. Why does one need to get a doctoral degree in photoshop to draw a simple circle. Its easy in Illustrator but why make it so difficult in Photoshop. I went to the Adobe site for directions and they’res didnt work either. I keep getting a full circle. Either everyones directions are missing a crucial step or they made the program way too complex.

  102. Tim

    After I draw the circle, Stroke is greyed out….now what?????

  103. eva

    hello, i want to make a combination of shapes, i can make one cirle with the marquee tool and than fill it with color with bucket tool, before painting it with color i can transform it.

    but when i want to make many shapes together i make the one first, i transform it and than i make the other but when i try to transform it it transform them together. the thing is that i can make the one and than the other, but i want to make them together because in some parts the one covers the other and the color becomes darker
    how can i transform each one and than paint them together?

  104. I was doing fine with your instructions til I got to the right click. How do you right click on a mac mouse? And then of course I couldn’t find the path thingy. So I was very grateful for Kenneth’s FAR more simple answer.

    Create a new layer
    Change the Marquee tool from a square to a circle
    Draw your circle
    Select edit/stroke to define stroke size and color
    Use edit/transform commands to change shape as needed.

    Piece of cake! Thanks, Kenneth

  105. Antonia

    ahahhhhhhhhaa! thanks sooooo much Phil! i spent half an hour trying to draw A SIMPLE STUPID CIRCLE before giving it up, admitting i must be dumb and googling it.. Excellent help. And no, the other ways are not easier, i tried them too.

  106. What are your thoughts on applian technolgies program called freecorder, here is a youtube video explaining it’s use: Download Youtube

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