Creating and Utilizing Custom Shapes

em October 4, 2013

Continuing with Design Month, let's talk custom shapes! Tableau Public provides you with plenty of awesome shapes to choose from, but sometimes you need something a little more. Custom shapes are an easy way to add a nice design touch to your vizzes and help solidify a theme.

There are a couple different cases where you may want to use custom shapes:

Now that you have an idea of where custom shapes can be useful, let’s talk about implementation! Creating the shapes is easy. You can use most image formats in Tableau. PNG is recommended since it supports transparency. You don’t want white boxes around your new shapes! Just drop your image files into the folder at My Documents>My Tableau Repository>Shapes.

If you have a set of shapes that go together, it’s a good idea to give them their own folder. If not, make a folder called “Custom” to hold all of your random shapes.If you don’t see your new shapes and folders in Tableau right away, just click the “Reload Shapes” button to see what has been added.

That's all it takes! Now you can spice up your scatter plots and lollipop charts or add some sweet buttons to your vizzes!


In the first bar chart diagram, why is the Greyjoy symbol included in the Legend of Alliances when no character with that allegiance appears in the graphic?
(in other words, shouldn't the Legend only include the images/types shown?)

That legend applies to two views on the dashboard and the other one contains the Greyjoys. I didn't want to screenshot that part because it contains possible spoilers!

When you import a bunch of custom shapes into Tableau, like the photos from your LinkedIn example, does Tableau automatically the correct photo if the name of the image in your custom shape palette matches the data item? Or do you have to assign that big list of photos by hand?

If you hit "Assign Palette" it will assign the shapes in alphabetical order. So, if your shapes are saved alphabetically and you are assigning to a matching dimension that is sorted alphabetically, it should match up just fine. I actually discussed this recently on my personal blog since I was trying to make custom shapes for all 718 Pokemon: