One of the defining features that differentiates a vector-based design tool from a raster one is that it allows you to infinitely edit existing shapes by modifying their points and paths.
In Vectornator as in any vector graphic software, no matter what, paths and points remain sharp and clear indifferent of how much you enlarge them.
Creating a path
There are four different tools to help you create a new Path depending on what you need: the Pen (1), the Pencil (2), the Brush (3), and the Shape (4) Tool.
Creating a path using the Pen Tool
The Pen Tool is possibly Vectornator's most powerful tool.
It allows you to create paths as straight lines (by clicking your canvas where you want your line to be formed) or curves (by clicking and dragging your mouse across the canvas to bend the path).
All lines or shapes in a vector-based software are made up of points (or nodes) connected by paths. The position, type, and handles of each node define how your shape or line looks.
In Vectornator, it’s really easy to select and edit those points to modify and polish your design. Simply pick up the Node Tool to select any nodes you want. You can click on them, click-and-drag an area, or activate the Multi Selection Tool to select more than one point.
Selecting Multiple Paths
Vectornator allows you to select more than one path. Simply hold the ~key~ ⇧ ~key~ key while clicking on multiple paths on your canvas.
In order to duplicate an object, you need to select its path, hold down the Alt key on your keyboard, and then simply drag your mouse to create a copy.
Resizing Paths Proportionally
While drawing or resizing objects, press ~key~ ⇧ ~key~ key in order to lock the aspect ratio of the shape. This allows you to resize a shape while maintaining its original aspect ratio.
Alternatively, you can proportionately resize your path by using the Resize Tool. The Resize Tool button appears after you have selected your object using the Selection Tool or the Node Tool.
Pro Tip – Holding ~key~ ⇧ ~key~ also allows you to draw perfect circles, squares, stars, and more.
Any vector path can be easily edited in Vectornator using the Node Tool. Here are the various ways to edit your path.
You can change the structure of a path by moving its nodes. You can do that very easily by selecting any node and dragging it to any position on the canvas. Or by changing the point's XY coordinates from the Inspector.
You can also move any node you have selected by using the ~key~ ↑ ↓ ~key~ keys on your keyboard.
When dragging a point around, you may notice that the Smart Guides appear. They allow you to align that point to other points, to edges, the document grid, or your personal Guides.
Adding nodes to your path allows you to edit your vector element with more detail and control with just the click of a button.
To add a new point into your selected path, you can click on any space between two points on the vector path.
Or open the Inspector, scroll down to see the Path Settings and press the Add Nodes button. Your shape will immediately add more points along your existing paths. This action allows you to add more detailed controls to your vector element with just the tap of a button!
Deleting nodes is a great way to simplify your path.
You might want to simplify your path because it has a lot of unnecessary nodes. For example, if your path was created with a freehand tool (like the Pencil or the Brush Tool), depending on the smoothing level, it can have a lot of nodes that do not add extra value to your path, but rather complicate it.
It's generally considered better to create a path with as few nodes as possible because it will be easier to control down the line.
To delete a node you can:
- Double click on it
- Select one or mode nodes and press the Delete Nodes button in the Path section of the Inspector.
You may notice that deleting a node can alter your shape drastically, depending on the position of your node on the path.
As soon as you select a node, the Node Types section will automatically appear in the Inspector. There are four different types of Nodes in Vectornator:
1 – Straight
2 – Mirrored
3 – Asymmetric
4 – Disconnected
To change the node type, select the node with the Node Tool. Then click on one of the four Node Types in the Inspector.
Pro Tip – While using the Pen tool, there are a few shortcuts that can speed up your workflow when changing your Node Type. So we recommend you give that section a read.
Show Node Handles when multiple nodes are selected
To show the handles of multiple points, activate the Node Tool and select your desired node by dragging an area on your canvas that contains those points, or simply press ~key~ ⌘ ~key~ or ~key~ ⇧ ~key~ key while selecting nodes.
Selecting the nodes displays the node handles.
⚠️ You can only display the handles of one path at once.
Extend an open path
Open paths always have a gap between their endpoints.
To extend an open path, select the path with the Selection Tool (first icon at the top of the Toolbar). Then select the Pen Tool (fourth icon from the top in the Toolbar) and click on one of the end nodes of your open path.
Simply click anywhere on the canvas to create the next point. The path will be extended directly from the initial node to the new point that you just created.
Joining two open paths
To join two open paths:
- Select two open and separate paths (use click or drag to select or press ~key~ ⌘ ~key~ key while selecting paths)
- Open the Inspector and scroll down to see the Path section
- Click the Join Paths button
Remember that the path that is located in the bottom-most layer will stay in position, while the paths above it will move accordingly to fit together.
Also, when the Nodes are not overlapping, Vectornator automatically adds a new line segment to connect the paths.
Closing an open path
The basic drawing tools such as the Pen, Pencil, Brush, Line, and Spiral Tools draw open paths by default. Since closed shapes enable features that open shapes can't use - like Boolean operations - you may want to close an open element to make it more versatile.
Starting with Vectornator 4.0, we introduced a new button that allows you to close and open a path with just one click. The button is placed at the bottom of the Nodes section in the Inspector and it's a button whose function is situation-dependent. The button will appear as:
- Open – when you select a closed path. Click to open it.
- Close – when you select an open path. Click once to close your open path.
Transforming a Closed Path
The path of a closed shape links the first and last nodes. This enables powerful Vectornator features like the Boolean Operations. Read more in the Options section →
Combine & Separate
The Combine button will create a compounded path composed of all currently selected paths. Compounded path holes appear in areas where the paths overlap. The reverse path direction button can change this.
The Separate button will simply reverse the Combine function.
Pro Tip – Using the Combine action can be really useful when you want to change all of the color properties of a repeated path in your design at once.
By clicking this button, you can reverse the starting and ending points of the selected path(s).
Outline a path
This button lets you convert the stroke of any path into a new object where the path becomes the outline of the shape.
You might want to outline a path if you want to edit it beyond path editing capabilities. For example, if you want to give a brush stroke or a letter a gradient, you first outline the path by pressing on the Outline button in the Path section.
⚠️ Please note that this action is permanent and not reversible.
How to Create an Offset Path
The Offset Path ~ic-offset-path~~ic-offset-path~ tool creates an identical shape of the original shape, but at a different scale value. The Offset Path replica shape is evenly distanced from the center of the original shape. The created offset path is a compound path.
You can create an offset path on Mac inside the Path section located in the Inspector. At the bottom of the feature list, click Offset Path.
The resulting distance between the original shape and the offset path will be defined by the numerical value. A positive numeric value will distend the Offset path outside the selected shape; a negative value will pull back the Offset Path inside the original shape. A value of 10 px will expand the path beyond the source shape by 10 px. A value of -10 px will retract the path from the source shape by -10 px.
To generate the offset path, click on Create Offset Path. Afterward, you can change the fill and color stroke color attributes of the Offset Path shape. ****
You can edit the angles of your newly created offset paths in the “Join” field. You can choose between the three following join options:
- The “Miter” join option creates a sharp corner.
- The “Round” join option creates a rounded corner.
- The “Bevel” join option creates a flat corner.
You can apply the Offset Path operation to multiple joins at once by selecting multiple shapes in advance.