Jetpack Compose in Many Shapes and Forms

Oftentimes, we get asked to create different custom views and shapes in Android Development. In the old view-based system, we heavily relied on Canvas to create a shape. Luckily, Jetpack Compose introduces new out-of-the-box ways to easily create and modify shapes on the fly.

This post will walk you through the available standard shapes in Compose Foundation and how you can leverage them for your needs or create custom ones.

What is Shape?

In Jetpack compose Shape is an interface to define the form, contours, or outline of an object.

Two classes implement the Shape interface:

  1. CornerBasedShape creates a rectangle defined by four CornerSizes. CornerSize can accept dp, px, and percent values. CornerBasedShape is a parent class to four shapes:

    • RoundedCornerShape and AbsoluteRoundedCornerShape are used to define a rectangle with rounded corners. RoundedCornerShape is layout-direction aware(LayoutDirection.Rtl ) and automatically mirrors the corner sizes.

    roundedCornerShape In the example above, the same parameters for RoundedCornerShape returned a different shape based on the system’s layout direction.

    If you’d like to disregard it - use AbsoluteRoundedCornerShape .


    • CutCornerShape and AbsoluteCutCornerShape both define a rectangle with cut corners. Similar to RoundedCornerShape, CutCornerShape is layout-direction aware and automatically mirrors the corner sizes. Use AbsoluteCutCornerShape if layout direction needs to be disregarded.


  2. GenericShape creates a custom shape by applying the provided builder on a Path. More details are below.

The shape component also comes with two top-level properties, that don’t require any parameters:

  • RectangleShape to apply a rectangle form;
  • CircleShape to apply a circle form.
1val circleShape = CircleShape
2val rectangleShape = RectangleShape

How to apply Shape?

The shape can be applied to most Compose Elements and Layouts via Modifier. Several Modifier functions accept shape:

  • clip(shape) is an extension function, that will clip content to a selected shape. Under the hood, it hits graphicsLayer() function.

  • graphicsLayer() is a function, that applies different effects to content such as rotation, scaling, clipping, and shadow.

  • background(color, shape) is a function, that will apply the selected shape to the background and won’t affect the content.

  • border(width, color, shape) is a function, that will apply the selected shape to the border.

  • drawBehind() is a function that will draw the selected path behind the content. This function does not exactly accept Shape class, however, it provides a stateless API DrawScope to draw shapes and paths without requiring developers to maintain Canvas state. You can pass the Path of a shape to drawPath() function inside.

applying Shape in Jetpack Compose

You can also combine any of the above functions simultaneously to get the most desired outcome. For example, to re-create a CircularImageView of the old view-based system in Jetpack Compose, you can leverage graphicsLayer and border functions:

 1val circleShape = CircleShape
 2    Image(
 3        painter = painterResource(id = R.drawable.jetpack_compose_logo),
 4        contentDescription = "Jetpack Compose Logo",
 5        modifier = Modifier
 6            .size(150.dp)
 7            .graphicsLayer { // call this function to apply custom shadow elevation, otherwise use `clip()`
 8                shadowElevation = Dimensions.medium.toPx() //your custom shadow elevation in px
 9                clip = true //make sure to set clip to true
10                shape = circleShape
11            }
12            .background(
13                color = colorResource(id = R.color.cupsOfCode_dark_green)
14            )
15            .border(
16                border = BorderStroke(
17                    width = 3.dp,
18                    color = colorResource(id = R.color.cupsofCode_brown)
19                ), shape = circleShape
20            )
22    )

The result is: Circulat image with border in Jetpack Compose

Create a custom shape

To create a custom shape, you can:

  • a) create a custom class by implementing the Shape interface and overriding its createOutline function


  • b) use GenericShape and pass a builder lambda to it. Under the hood, GenericShape overrides the createOutline function of Shape .

For example, to create a heart, I’ve converted this logic from StackOverFlow into an extension function heartPath() of Path (ext function is here ). Then you can use the first option and create a custom class Heart :

 1class Heart: Shape {
 2    override fun createOutline(
 3        size: Size,
 4        layoutDirection: LayoutDirection,
 5        density: Density
 6    ): Outline {
 7        val path = Path().apply {
 8            heartPath(size = size)
 9            close()
10        }
11        return Outline.Generic(path)
12    }

Or use the second option with GenericShape :

2fun heart(): GenericShape {
3   return GenericShape { size, _ ->
4        heartPath(size = size)
5    }

Both options will return a heart shape:

Custom Shape Heart in Jetpack Compose

Note: when using GenericShape you don’t need to call close() function of the Path, because it’s already taken care of.

Final Thoughts

Shape API in Jetpack Compose provides quick solutions for complex UI elements. Unlike the old view-based system, Shape API doesn’t require additional vector XML files or deep-dive access to Canvas and the customization of most components can be done directly on them via available Modifier functions. So, give it a try and spend some time playing with it.

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

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