When I try to draw a shape, I can't seem to get it to create a new layer, but rather it always goes on the layer that I already have selected. How do I create a new layer from a shape that I wish to draw? Otherwise, I can't seem to edit its colour....

In relation to this, I watched a tutorial and each time the guy drew a new shape it created a coloured thumbnail linked to a thumbnail with the shape inside of a grey box. For me, currently, the shapes just keep appearing on transparent layer thumbnails.

This is what the tool bar looks like with the shape tool selected:

  • What program are you using? The answer will change depending on what you're working in. Dec 23, 2012 at 19:58

3 Answers 3


Update based on updated question.....

You should always state what software and what version of that software you are using. It's clear from the added image you are using Photoshop prior to CS6.

If you look at your control bar you'll see 3 little icons on the left, highlighted here....

old control bar

From left to right these icons mean - shape layer, only a path, a raster shape. In order to create new layers for each shape, you need for click the Shape Layer icon, the leftmost of the three.

Currently you have it set on Raster Shapes. This will merely create pixels on whatever layer you have highlighted, just as if you were using a brush.

For Photoshop CS6....

If you are using Photoshop, be certain the shape options are set to "New Layer" when you have a Shape Tool Active.

shape options

You'll also want to be certain you are working on a file which permits layers. Anything in Index color mode - gif, png8, bitmap - will not allow you to create new layers.

  • If you've already created the shape/path, you can also just select it and create a new fill/gradient layer. Photoshop will then use that path as a vector mask for the new fill/gradient layer. Dec 23, 2012 at 21:19
  • My shape options tool bar doesn't look as pictured... Please see updated question description to see how it looks. Thus, not sure how to perform this function :/ Dec 24, 2012 at 10:06
  • @Zak833 I've updated my answer to fit your version of Photoshop.
    – Scott
    Dec 24, 2012 at 10:46
  • Thanks again, Skaught. I suppose a mini follow-up question is, which is the best option to use as a best practice? I'm sure it depends on what you're trying to accomplish, but all things being equal, is it better to create shapes on new layers? Dec 24, 2012 at 11:36
  • There really is no "best" method. It all depends on what you are creating. Shapes can be easier to control and edit after the fact, but pixels may suit a particular need more.
    – Scott
    Dec 24, 2012 at 11:42

Press Ctrl + Shift + N to create new layer or do so directly from the Layer pane. Then draw the shape you want in this new layer so you can change the colours of the shape.


To enable this to create a new layer always ensure that your are in the shape mode while drawing. At the top menu just below image you will see option menu and you have to click on it and choose shape option and viola, your drawings will start appearing in different layers as you draw. Hint: I'm using Photoshop cc 2018 as of the time of submitting this answer..

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