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Brush Tool

Brush Tool

The Brush Tool lets you easily draw freeform paths with variable widths.

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There are two ways you can use brushes in Vectornator. You can draw them with the Brush Tool or you can apply them to an existing path.

brush stroke animation
Learn More – How to draw brush strokes with the Pen Tool →

Using the Brush Tool

To draw a brush stroke, simply tap the Brush icon in the Toolbar to select it, or press ~key~B~key~ on the keyboard.

Once you select the Brush Tool, the Brush Options (1) will appear below the Stroke section in the Style Tab. You can use these settings to create new brushes, use Preset Brushes (2), and change the Brush Profile (3).

brush tool interface general
⚠️ Brush strokes are now deselected after drawing, which prevents you from making unwanted changes. Changing your brush's color or any other property (such as width, opacity, blur, etc.) will affect only the next path you draw with the Brush Tool.

Setting the Brush Stroke Width

To the right of the Brush Tool, you’ll find a slider which allows you to change the width of your brush. A lower value will make your brush thinner, while a higher value makes it wider.

The same slider, labeled Stroke Width, can be found in the Stroke section of the Inspector.

brush tool interface stroke width

brush tool interface

Something important to consider is that brush strokes can have variable widths at different points along the path, so the stroke width value refers to the maximum width of the brush.

Changing the Path Smoothness

The Brush Tool works like a freehand tool, so you can simply start drawing a new path just as you would on paper. The vector path will follow more or less precisely the path of your hand, depending on the smoothness value you've set.

If you want your brush path to follow exactly what you draw, you can set the smoothness to 0%. The higher this value, the more Vectornator will smooth your brush curves and simplify the path you have created. To change the Smoothness, open the Appearance section in the Inspector and use your finger/pencil to adjust the Smoothing slider (1).

brush tool interface appea
Pro Tip – As with any stroke, the smoothness can be adjusted before and after drawing.

The Brush Selection Pane

To draw or apply a brush stroke, you can easily choose different custom brushes from the Brush Selection Pane. While closed, the pane shows a live preview of the current active brush.

brush tool interface change siz

Preset Brushes

While open, it displays a list of the Preset Brushes. These can be used as they are to speed your workflow.

brush tool interface brush size
Pro Tip – You can use the saved Preset Brushes as the jumping-off point for your own custom brushes. In order to do that, just choose a brush in the Selection Pane and open the Brush Editor to change the Contour or other options. To save your changes, press save, and your settings will be saved as a new brush.

Your Brushes

After you save your first brush in the Brush Editor, a section called Your Brushes will appear at the top of this panel. Here, you can save as many brushes as you want, and they will be shared across all your documents in Vectornator. Your brushes are saved locally to the device on which you created them.

How to remove a Brush from the Selection Pane

To delete a custom brush, just tap and hold the brush you want to delete in the list, and the Delete option will pop up.

Note: Preset Brushes cannot be deleted.

The Brush Editor

The Brush Editor is the panel where you can customize your brush's Shape and Contour, and Preview, Save, or Reset your custom brushes. In this panel you can also switch on/off the Pressure Sensitivity.

brush tool interface settings

To open the Brush Editor, simply tap the icon at the left of the Selection Pane.

brush tool settings

Brush Shape Settings

At the top of the Brush Editor, you'll see a preview (1) of your brush's shape (viewed along the Z-axis) based on the settings as Roundness and Angle.

The Roundness of your brush's stroke can be changed by:

  • Dragging the handles towards the center of the circle in the Preview
  • Using the Roundness slider (A)
  • Tapping the slider to manually enter a value

The values range from 100% (which represents a perfect circle) to 1% (which is a flat line).

The Angle defines the rotation of the brush stroke. You can define any value within 360˚using the slider (B). A rotation of 0˚ will create a horizontal brush, and 90˚ will create a vertical brush.

In the Brush Editor, you also find the Minimum Width slider (C) which allows you to set the minimum value of the brush stroke according to the contour profile defined. Any changes made to this value will be also visible in the Contour Preview (2) below.

How to Change the Brush Contour

At the bottom of the Editor you'll find the Contour window: a path which represents the Brush Profile. The **draggable handles form the contour of the brush, and they can be moved along the X and Y axis to reshape the brush's contour.

You can interact with the Brush Contour by:

  • Adding new handles → Simply tap on the profile to add a new handle.
  • Moving handles → Hold and drag an existing handle to change its position.
  • Deleting handles → To delete a handle, double-tap on it, or tap once and hit "Delete."

The handles selected appear in blue color and as soon as you move, add or delete them, you’ll see the changes in the preview below.

⚠️ The Contour window always have a minimum of 2 handles which determine the begin and end of your brush path.

How to Save Your Brushes

Once you set the brush to the settings you like, you can easily save it by tapping the Save button at the bottom right of the Brush Editor. You can find your saved brushes in the Brush Selection Pane.

If you are not happy with the current brush, tap the Reset button. This will switch your brush settings back to default, including shape and contour.

Note – The default Contour Profile has all initial handles at the same height; creating a flat profile.

Pressure Sensitivity

All Vectornator brushes on iOS are pressure-sensitive. Pressure sensitivity determines the width of the brushstroke you are about to draw. This means that the more pressure you put on your stylus pen, the thicker your line becomes. This is achieved by applying different levels of pressure on the surface of your iPad using the Apple Pencil.

To enable this feature, switch on the Pressure toggle inside the Brush Editor. This will cause your brush to follow the pressure of your Pencil but still relate to the type of brush you're using.

The Pressure feature is still dependent on the Brush Stroke Width you have set. This means that the maximum thickness of your path is based on the stroke width you have defined. For example, if your stroke has a width value of 10, your path will have a max width of 10 when you press harder.

Pro Tip – If you want to use only the pressure of your Pencil to determine the thickness of your brush stroke, we recommend that you select a flat profile for your brush.
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Video Recap

You can watch our Academy video below to see how the Brush Tool works on your iPad. We will show you how you can draw beautiful but simple brush strokes, how to add, edit, delete, and move around nodes or change their type.

Turn All Paths into a Brush

Starting with Vectornator 4.4, any path can be converted into a Brush Stroke and viceversa. You can now choose between Regular (1) or Brush (2) Mode within the Stroke section in the Style Tab whether you created a path using the Pen, Pencil, or Shape Tool.

regular or brush paths in Vectornator

Much like the Pencil Tool, brushes are a freehand tool, making them a great pair to start with. You can change a regular Pencil path to take the look and feel of a brush profile by selecting it and then just tap on the "Brush" button inside the Style Tab.

Furthermore, this Regular vs Brush Mode functionality also works with the Pen Tool. When picking up the Pen Tool, you can immediately start off with the Brush Profile and then change it to Regular while or after we’ve created the path. To do so, you simply have to tap to the Regular or Brush button.

Learn more – How to Draw a Brush Stroke with the Pen Tool ->

The third way you can approach this functionality is by using it in combination with the Shape Tool. Activate the Brush mode on any shape and its stroke will follow the profile of your selected brush from the Brush Selection Pane.

If you're a visual learner, then watch the step-by-step video below that shows you how to apply a brush stroke to any path.

Download the PDF version here.
Last Updated on Jul 22, 2022
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