We will explain to you the features of the Pen Tool for Mac and how you can draw and adjust vector paths with it. We will give you an overview of the Content-Aware options and general navigation of the Pen Tool.
The Pen Tool is one of the most important and powerful tools in Vectornator. The Pen Tool is a crucial Tool for a vector-based app. Vector shapes consist of paths, and the Pen Tool will help you to edit these paths.
By clicking on the canvas, you will create a node. If you click on the canvas again, the two nodes will be connected with a path segment. The path consists of the nodes and the path segments. Nodes can be converted into Bézier Curves with adjustable handles while drawing to create a curved path.
You can change the Node Type while you are drawing with the Pen Tool. You can either close or finish a Path. A path will be finished when the final node does not close the path by returning to the first node. A path will be closed when the last node finishes the path by returning to the first node.
The Pen Tool (1) is located in the Toolbar to the left side of your screen. Click on the Pen Tool icon and the tool will be activated. Alternatively, you can press ~key~P~key~ on your Mac to activate the tool.
The Content-Aware Options of the Pen Tool will only appear in the Inspector when the Pen Tool is selected. In the Content-Aware Options of the Pen Tool, you can:
1 – Change the Node Type
2 – Close a path
3 – Finish a path
How to Draw Straight Paths
If you click once on the canvas, you will create a single node. If you click again, a connecting line will appear between the two points. The connecting line is called the path segment. If you continue to click on the canvas, it will result in a zigzag line or a straight line.
If you want to finish your path, all you need to do is to double-click on the last node you have drawn. Another option is to go to the Content-Aware options for the Pen Tool in the Inspector and press the Finish Path (2) button.
Following this logic, it’s easy to create any kind of polygon by clicking once to create each corner and then clicking one last time on the first node to close the shape.
Pro Tip – If you want to create exact shapes, like a square, you know that you have the Shape Tool available for that, but you can draw these shapes with the Pen Tool too by using the Grid feature and by activating the Snap to Grid function.
How to Draw Curved Paths
We will now move on to one of the most powerful features of the Pen Tool, the Bézier Curves.
When you are drawing a path with the Pen Tool, instead of continuing to click, just click and drag the mouse on your Mac simultaneously. The path node will display two Bézier Curve Handles. As long as you don't release the mouse button, you can adjust the length and rotation of the Curve Handles, which will determine the resulting shape of your curve.
An Exercise for Drawing on Curves
Have you downloaded the Practice File for learning the Pen Tool we shared above in this page?
Before we start our drawing exercises with the Pen Tool, activate the Gridlines by going to View > Grid Settings. In the Grid Settings, set in the Pop-up menu the attribute to perpendicular and set the spacing to 50, and then press Confirm.
If you have followed these instructions correctly, you should now see the grid displayed on the canvas. Activate the Snap to Grid function by going to View > Snap to Grid.
Let’s click, and drag down, click, and drag up, then click on the last node to end the path. Now we have drawn a perfect dome shape on your Mac. If I drag in the opposite direction, we will get a wave as a result.
And this is what happens when you drag diagonally. You can click and drag in any direction you wish to create an unlimited variety of shapes.
How to Switch the Node Type while Using the Pen Tool
The easiest way to change the Node Type of the Pen Tool is to use shortcuts. While drawing with the Pen Tool for Mac, you can change the direction of your curves and their handles in three different ways:
- When you want to draw a sharp angle on your path, hold ~key~⌥~key~ to switch from the Asymmetric Node Type to the Disconnected Node Type. This will enable you to create shapes like the one you can see below. The handles of the Disconnected Node Type are adjustable independently of each other.
Remember, you can switch the node type inside the Content-Aware Options of the Pen Tool, which will be accessible as long as the Pen Tool is selected.
- If you want to convert your node into the Asymmetrical Node and have the handles snap to 45° increments, you can hold the ~key~⇧~key~ key. This gesture comes very handily when you want to draw waves f.ex.
- If you want to snap only one handle to 45° increments, hold ~key~⇧⌥~key~ while moving the nodes around.
- After you have drawn your node, click on it again with the Pen Tool. This will display your node with only one handle.