The Pen Tool is used to define your own vector points and create custom paths with Bezier Curves.
The Pen Tool is one of the most powerful tools in Vectornator or any other vector software.
It allows you to create Bézier curve (also known as vector paths) that you can draw, curve, edit, and close. These curves can also be scaled infinitely. Their direction and angle are determined by the position of the node handles.
Activate the Pen Tool
To activate the Pen Tool, simply tap the Pen icon in the Toolbar.
On Vectornator for Mac, you can activate the Pen Tool by using the shortcut <key>P<key>.
As soon as you activate the Pen tool and start drawing on your canvas, the Node Types Options will appear at the top of the Style Tab allowing you to change the types of the Bezier curves. The supported Node Types you can find in Vectornator are: Single (1), Mirrored (2), Asymmetrical (3), Disconnected (4).
Continue Drawing an Open Path
If you have an open path, you can use the Pen Tool to continuing drawing by selecting the endpoint of your path. To do so:
- Select your open path with the Selection or Direct Selection Tool
- Activate the Pen Tool
- Tap on one of the two endpoints
- Tap anywhere on the canvas to create the next point of your path.
The path will be extended directly from the initial node to the new point that you just created.
If the next point overlaps the other endpoint, this will close the path.
Read more: How to Close an Open Path →
How to Create Straight Paths
Tap on the canvas to add a new anchor point (or node). Multiple taps will create a straight path with “sharp” corners.
When selecting the Anchor Point using the Node Tool, there will be no handles.
Note: To help you create a horizontal/ vertical path, you can hold a finger on your canvas or activate the Snap to Grid feature from the Quick Settings.
How to Create Curved Paths
Tap and drag your finger (or Pencil) on the canvas to add a corner point. This creates asymmetrical direction handles (3), as seen highlighted at the top of the Style Tab where the Content Aware Panel for the different Node Types options appears, and you will obtain curved edges.
The Pen Tool Gestures (iOS)
In Vectornator, there are four useful gesture combos to help you define the Node type and change your path's curves.
#1 - Hold one more finger
While drawing a new line with the Pen Tool, hold a second finger onto the canvas to change the previous node to a disconnected type. A disconnected node has handles that can move independently and change the direction and arc of the next curve.
#2 Hold two more fingers
Hold two more fingers onto the canvas to enable 45º snapping on both of your node handles.
#3 Hold three more fingers
Hold three more fingers onto the canvas to enable 45º snapping on only one handle. If you're using a Mac, you can hold the <key>⌥<key> key to achieve this same affect.
Double-tap on any selected anchor point to turn that node into a straight node type.
Watch this video from Will Paterson to learn How to Master the Pen Tool using Vectornator on his iPad.
The Pen Tool Shortcuts Gestures (macOS)
If you're using a Mac or an external keyboard with Vectornator, you can alternatively use four useful shortcut combos to help you define the Node type and change your path's curves.
#1 - Pen Tool + <key>⌘<key>
While drawing a new line with the Pen Tool, hold the <key>⌘<key> key to change the previous node into a disconnected type. A disconnected node has handles that can move independently and change the direction and arc of the next curve.
#2 Pen Tool + <key>Shift<key>
If you're using a Mac, you can hold the Shift key to constrain the angle of the segment to multiples of 45° on both of your node handles.
#3 Pen Tool + <key>⌥<key>
Hold the <key>⌥<key> key to enable 45º snapping on only one handle.
Double-click on any selected anchor point to turn that node into a straight node type.
How to Join Paths with the Pen Tool
Along with using the Join Paths button to connect two open paths from the Path Tab, you can also connect them by using the Pen and Node tool in combo. 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.
You can watch the video below for a quick overview of how the Pen Tool works. You can also find more information about the Pen Tool in the Paths section of the Learning Hub and in our dedicated Blog Post.