One of the defining features that differentiates a vector-based design tool from a raster one is that you can create, edit, and re-edit existing shapes by modifying their points and paths. These paths and points remain sharp and clear, no matter how small or large you make 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.
Tip: All these tools are on the left side of Vectornator’s UI inside the Action Bar.
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 tapping to create points) or curves (by tapping and holding to bend the line you just made).
Selecting Anchor Points
All lines or shapes in a vector-based software are made up of points connected by paths, which make up the outlines of a shape. In Vectornator, it’s really easy to select and edit those points to modify and polish your design.
By selecting the Node Tool, you will be able to see these Anchor Points. To alter them, you can tap on them, tap-and-drag an area, or activate the Multi Selection Tool to select more than one point.
Moving Anchor Points
After selecting any point, you can move it around by dragging it with your finger or Apple Pencil, or move it with the Mini Joystick at the bottom right of the canvas, or change the object's XY coordinates from the Arrange Tab.
Using a keyboard, you can move any path (or node) you have selected by using the arrow keys on your keyboard.
When dragging a point around, you may see the Smart Guides appear, which allow you to align that point to other points, edges, the document grid, or your personal Guides.
Adding Anchor Points
When you select a path with the Node Tool, every Anchor Point in that shape will appear.
To add a new point into your selected path, you can:
- Tap any space between two points on the vector path.
- Open the Path Tab and tap the button “Add Anchor Points”. 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 Anchor Points
To delete any of the anchor points along your path, you can:
1) Select your path with the Node Tool so that every point is highlighted. Then, tap on the point you want to delete and tap the Delete Button inside the Action Bar.
2) Alternatively, open the Path Tab and tap the button Delete Anchor Points. Your shape will immediately have less points. This is a good way to make larger changes to an element's shape, as any adjustment you make will affect larger sections of the shape. It's also a good way to simplify your shape's controls once you're happy with how it looks.
TIP: The Delete Anchor Points button can be very helpful for simplifying an auto traced image.
Editing Anchor Points:
As soon as you select an anchor point, the Node Types panel will appear at the top of the Style Tab.
There are four different types of Nodes in Vectornator:
To change an anchor point's node type, activate the Node Tool, then tap or drag to select the anchor points you want to change.
Choose one of the four Node Types in the Style Tab section. (See the image above)
Tap on your desired node type to change your selected points to that type.
To change the Node Type of a selected anchor point, there are a few gestures and shortcuts that can speed up your workflow.
Show Node Handles
When multiple anchor points are selected
To show the handles of multiple anchor points, activate the Node Tool and select your desired anchor points by dragging an area on your canvas that contains those points, or simply tap on each point individually by activating the multiple selection tool.
This option displays the anchor point handles immediately and helps you figure out what the node types are. Otherwise, the handles are not displayed.
Tip: You can only display the handles of one path at once.
Editing paths works the same way whether you're on the iPad, Mac, or iPhone. The only minor changes between the devices are the gestures controls depending upon tools and platform you are using.
You can edit a path at any time, but there's a difference between closed and opened paths.
The basic drawing tools such as the Pen, Pencil, Brush, Line, and Spiral Tools all 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.
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 tap on one of the end Anchor Points of the open path.
Then, tap anywhere on the canvas to create the next point.
The path will be extended directly from the intial node to the new point that you just created.
Joining two open paths
To join two open paths:
- Select two open and separate paths
- Open the Path Tab
- Tap 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 Anchor Points are not overlapping, Vectornator automatically adds a new line segment to connect the paths.
Tip for Vectornator on Mac: You can also use the keyboard shortcut ⌃⇧J to Join Paths quickly and easily.
Closing an open path
Along with using the Join Paths button to connect open paths, you can also connect them by using the Pen Tool.
To do so:
- Select the open path with the Node Tool.
- Activate the Pen Tool and tap one of the two anchor points at the end of the line.
- Once that the node is selected, tap the other end node.
- The path will be now closed.
Editing a closed path
Select multiple paths
Located to the right of the Selection and Node Tools inside the Toolbar, you will find the Multiple Selection button (A).
This button allows you to select multiple paths by tapping the objects you want to select.
Duplicate a path with one tap
While the selection tool is active, tap the Duplicate button (B) to the right of the Selection Tool (1) inside the Toolbar to enable duplicate mode.
Now you can tap and drag any selected object to create a duplicate of it.
Resize a path keeping the aspect ratio
While drawing or resizing objects, hold the canvas with a second finger in order to lock the aspect ratio of the shape. This allows you to resize a shape while maintaining the aspect ratio. It also allows you to draw perfect circles, squares, and more.
Alternatively, you can also resize your path by using the Resize Tool after you select your object using the Selection and the Node Tool.
Combine & Separate
The Combine button will create a compounded path composed of all currently selected paths; merging them into a single path sharing the same visuals. 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.
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 tapping 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 an editable new path with a fill.
Note: Please note that this action is permanent and not reversible.