One of the defining features that differentiate 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.
Creating a path
There are four different tools to help you create a new Path depending on what you need:
the Pen Tool ~key~P~key~ , the Pencil ~key~W~key~ , the Brush ~key~B~key~ , and the Line Tool ~key~L~key~ .
All these tools are on the left side of Vectornator’s User Interface, inside the Toolbar.
Selecting Paths can be done by using the:
- Selection Tool, which allows you to select the entire path as a whole, and brings up the Quick Actions Bar (A) at the bottom of the selected shape.
- Node Tool, that allows you to select instead the Bezier Nodes that compose your path. Also, you can see the Node Handles appearing around that point when you tap on it.
Selecting Multiple Paths
Located to the right of the Selection and Node Tools inside the Toolbar, you will find the Multiple Selection button (A from the image above). This button allows you to select multiple paths by tapping the objects you want to select.
The Multiple Selection allows you to select the entire path to move it around, while the one placed at the right of the Node Tool allows you to select multiple nodes at once.
Duplicating a Path with One Tap
While the Selection Tool is active, tap the Duplicate button to the right of the Selection Tool to enable Duplicate Mode. Now tap and drag any selected object to create a duplicate of it.
Resizing a Path while 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 activating the Scale Mode after you select your object with the Selection Tool and the Node Tool.
Learn more: 3 Ways to Resize an Object in Vectornator ➞
Editing a Path
Any vector path can be easily edited in Vectornator by using the Node Tool. 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 the tools and the platform you are using.
You can edit a path at any time, but there's a difference between closed and open paths.
The basic drawing tools such as the Pen Tool, Pencil Tool, Brush Tool, Line Tool, 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.
By selecting the Node Tool, you will be able to see all the Nodes that compose the path. To alter them, you can tap on them, tap-and-drag an area, or activate the Multi Select Mode to select more than one point.
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 X and Y coordinates of your object from the Arrange Tab.
If you use a keyboard, you can nudge any path (or node) you have selected by using the arrow keys.
When dragging a node 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.
When you select a path with the Node Tool, every Bezier Node 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 Nodes (1). Your shape will immediately add more points to your existing paths.
This action enables you to add more detailed controls to your vector element with just the tap of a button, without making any significant changes in the original path shape.
Simplifying a Path
The Delete Nodes feature helps you remove all the unnecessary Bézier Nodes of your path and generate a simplified path for your complex artwork. Simplifying paths can give you different benefits such as easier path editing, reduced file size, faster file rendering.
To delete any of the Bézier Nodes along your path, you can:
- 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.
- Alternatively, open the Path Tab and tap the button Delete Nodes (2). Your shape will immediately have fewer points. This is a good way to make larger changes to the shape of an element. Every adjustment you make will affect larger sections of the shape.
When do I need to simplify a path?
• To simplify an traced image.
• To reduce the number of Bézier nodes when expanding a shape.
• To reduce the size of your file.
Joining Multiple Paths
To join two (or more) open and separate paths, select the paths you wish to connect and go over to the Path Tab.
In the Path Tab, just tap the Join Paths button. Vectornator will automatically add smooth and curved connective path segments to fuse the open paths.
Along with using the Join Paths Button to connect multiple open paths, you can also connect them by using the Pen Tool.
- Select the open path with the Node Tool.
- Activate the Pen Tool and tap one of the two nodes at the end of the line.
- Once the node is selected, tap the other end node.
- The path will be closed now.
Closing an Open Path
To close and open a path in just one step, you can use Close / Open button, which will change accordingly to the state of the selected shape.
The button (1) can be found inside the Content-Aware Options of your Nodes every time you are drawing a path with the Pen Tool or editing it with the Node Tool.
You can find the same button (2) inside the Path Tab: Open – Tap to open your closed path. Close – Tap to close your open path.
Editing a Closed Path
The path of a closed shape links the first (green) and last (red) node. This enables powerful Vectornator features like the Boolean Operations and Masks.
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.
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.
Separate Compound Paths
The Separate button will reverse the Combine function.
By tapping this button, you can invert the position of the endpoints of the selected path(s). This button comes in handy especially when you have arrows at the end of your path.
Outline a Path
Select any path and convert it into a shape by tapping the Outline button (3) in the Path Tab. This button lets you convert the stroke of any path into an editable new path with a fill.
⚠️ Please take 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 a duplicate of the original shape at a different scale value. The Offset Path is a replica shape that is evenly distanced from the center of the original shape. The resulting offset path is a compound path.
If you want to create an offset path on the iPad, go to the Path Tab ~ic-path-tab~~ic-path-tab~ located inside the Inspector. At the bottom of the feature list, tap Offset Path.
The numerical value will define the resulting distance between the original shape and the offset path. A positive numeric value will expand the Offset path outside the selected shape; a negative value will retract the Offset Path inside the original shape. A value of 10 px will expand the path beyond the original shape by 10 px. A value of -10 px will retract the path from the original shape by -10 px.
Tap on Create Offset Path if you want to generate the offset path. The fill and color stroke color of the Offset Path shape can be changed afterward.
The “Join” field allows you to edit the angles of your newly created offset path. You have three join options available:
- The “Miter” ~ic-mitter-joint~~ic-mitter-joint~ option creates a sharp corner.
- “Round” ~ic-round-joint~~ic-round-joint~, as the name suggests, creates a rounded corner.
- The “Bevel” ~ic-bevel-joint~~ic-bevel-joint~ join creates a flat corner.
Pro Tip – You can select multiple shapes and apply the Offset Path operation to them all at once.