Working with shapes in Pages for iPad

Rob Clymo
2 December, 2012
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There are lots of surprises hidden inside Pages’ interface, but one of the most intriguing is the capacity for working with shapes and other objects on the page. While it’s reasonably easy to get the hang of how to add and edit content such as text and photographs, getting a firm grasp of how to work with shapes can help to transform your workflow. Better still, your designs will take on an extra edge as you add more complex shapes in order to complement anything from a flyer through to a poster.

Perhaps the best examples of shapes that can be dynamically altered ‘on the fly’ to produce new designs are the normally rather humdrum straight line and the star. These two objects – once you’ve mastered how to edit them with fingertip precision – can help to revolutionise the way you put together your documents. Add in other more conventional page elements, such as stylishly formatted text and eye-catching images, and you’ll soon be producing designs that can rival many more advanced desktop publishing packages – and all from within the mobile environment.


An often-overlooked aspect of Pages is that it’s possible to create complex graphics in other applications and then import them into your design. If you want to use a logo or freehand creation, simply load it into Camera Roll when you next connect to your main computer.

Vital Info

Device: iPhone/iPad
Difficulty: Beginner
Time required: 1 hour

What you need: 

iOS 5.1 or later

Step 1: On the line

With a blank canvas you’re able to head straight to the top-right ‘+’ symbol and select a straight line from the palette. Be sure to pick the one to the right, with the dots on it, as these will allow you to manipulate it as required. Then simply drag it on to your work area.

Step 2: Style it up

The tool options inside Pages allow you to customise a basic line into any kind of look that’s needed for your design. You can pick the colour, the width and whether the line is to be solid, dotted or dashed from the options in the list. It can even sport a ‘freehand’-style finish.

Step 3: Arrowhead options

The next thing we’ll add is an arrowhead, to turn that boring line into a useful pointer. Arrowheads can be applied from the same tool palette we were using previously. Note the freehand-style pattern discussed in step 2, which has also been applied to the straight line itself.

Step 4: Bend it

Another nice thing about the way Pages treats lines is that if you hold your finger on any of the points you can manipulate them – you can bend it right over into an attractive curve if you like. It’s also possible to combine more than one line together to produce more complex drawings.

Step 5: A star is born

Similarly, select a star from one of the palette options and then drag it on to the working area. The blue dots signify where the shape can be rotated and moved, while the small green dots indicate where you can drag the corners in and out to add or subtract points on the star.

Step 6: Shapes and text

As you can see from the star above, it’s possible to overlay text boxes on to the shape for a glitzy effect. Double-tapping both the star and text box lets you group them for easier movement on the page, as indicated by the large number of blue points shown here.

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