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How to Use the Node Tool in Affinity Designer
  • By Nadine Spires
  • 28 Mar 2022
  • 20 Mins
  • Intermediate
  • Affinity Tutorials

How to Use the Node Tool in Affinity Designer

In this tutorial discover how to use the Node Tool and its powerful features in Affinity Designer.

The Affinity Designer Node tool is an essential tool for designers, especially when combined with the Pen tool. In today’s tutorial you will learn about using the Node tool and all its great features. It is especially useful for vector designs where you need some fine tuning.

Open Affinity Designer and create a new document.

Step 1 - Create a Rectangle Shape

We are going to start by creating a Rectangle Shape. Using the Rectangle tool on the left side, draw out the shape to any size you want. Size and color are not important for this tutorial.

The Fill, Stroke and Stroke Width can be adjusted in the top left toolbar.

Create Rectangle Shape in Affinity

If you want to create your own design from scratch, you can use the Pen Tool in Affinity Designer.

In order to use the Node Tool, the shape needs to be converted to a curve. You do this either by going to Layer > Convert to Curves or clicking the Convert to Curves button in the top toolbar.

Convert shape to a curve in Affinity

When the shape is converted to a curve, it will show as Curve under the Layers Panel on the right.

Step 2 - Use the Node Tool

The Node Tool can be found with the Point Transform Tool. If not visible, click the white triangle to open the options then choose the Node Tool.

Locate the Node tool in Affinity

Move Corner Nodes

On each corner you will see a square node. Click + drag a corner to move it around. You can move it in any direction you want.

Click and drag nodes in Affinity GIF

If you hold Shift then click + drag, the nodes will be moved in a straight line. This includes diagonally. When moving the nodes, you will see a straight line appear.

Move nodes in straight line GIF

Curve Sides of Rectangle

Now, when you click + drag in one of the sides, you will create a curve. As you do this, you may see handles appear. These lines with circular ends are for fine tuning that particular node.

Curve sides of Rectangle GIF

Handles will appear depending on the type of node. For a sharp node, handles are not immediately visible. For other nodes, you may get a handle on one side or both sides of the node. Click + drag a handle to change the shape or curve of the line.

Adjust node handles in Affinity GIF

Add More Nodes to Curve

Place your cursor over a line and a blue line will appear. When you click anywhere that this line appears, a new node will be added. You will also see a wavy line appear beneath the cursor.

Add new node to Curve in Affinity GIF

Delete a Node

If you want to delete a node, click on the selected node so it turns blue then hit Delete on your keypad.

Select Multiple Nodes

You can select multiple nodes that are not directly next to each other. Hold Shift + click on the nodes you want selected, these will highlight in blue. In the image below we have selected the top middle node and two bottom nodes.

Select multiple nodes in Affinity

Step 3 - Node Tools Explained

In Affinity Designer, once the Node Tool is selected you get a host of options in the top toolbar. Let’s explore what those options do.

Convert Tools

Change Curve into a Sharp Point

Whenever you add a new node to a curve, it will have a circle instead of a square. This indicates that the curve is a smooth one. If you add a new node to a straight line, it will show as a square which indicates a sharp node.

Here we dragged the line up to create a curve then added a new node.

Create a curve and add node

You can easily turn a rounded node into a sharp one. Make sure the node is selected by clicking on it. At the top toolbar, click on the icon Convert to Sharp.

The node will turn from a blue circle to a blue square.

Turn round node sharp in Affinity

You will notice that when moving the sharp node around, there are no handles. To access the handles, you need to move the areas on either side of the node. Click + drag to the right side of the node to activate handles, then on the left side.

Access handles of sharp node Affinity

Once you adjust the node, you can individually adjust each handle. Unlike the smooth node, where moving one handle also moves the opposite one.

To create a straight line and remove the handles, hold Alt + click on the node. The node will be forced into a sharp node. Alternatively, hold Alt + click on a line between two nodes. Your cursor will show an arrow with a straight line when doing this.

Make a Sharp Node Smooth

A sharp node can be turned into a smooth node by clicking on Convert to Smooth on the top toolbar.

Smooth out Sharp node in Affinity

Convert to Smart Node

The third option in the Convert category is Convert to Smart. When you click this, the node will act like a smooth node. However, the circle will have a blue dot in the middle.

With a converted smart node, when nearby nodes are adjusted, the opposite side responds as well. With a normal smooth node, one side will only react when the node is shifted.

In the visual example below, Convert to Smart was selected first. Moving one side affected the opposite side. Then, we reversed the conversion and selected Convert to Smooth. Moving one side didn’t affect the other.

Convert to Smart node in Affinity

Next, we will discuss the Action Tools. To better see what is happening, we adjusted the Width in the top left toolbar to 10pt.

Adjust stroke width in Affinity

Action Tools

Break Curve

Select a node on the design then click on the Break Curve icon. Click on the node, which should be the top most once, then drag it to one side. You will see that the path has been broken.

The icon will be grayed out after clicking it. If you select another node it will be active again as shown in the image below.

Break curve in Affinity Designer

Close Curve

Click one of the open nodes then click on Close Curve in the top toolbar.

Select node to close curve Affinity

The open path between the two nodes will now be closed. Both nodes that were created when the path was broken, are also kept.

Closed path in Affinity Designer

Wherever there is an open path, this will be closed. In the example below, we used the Pen tool to draw an open path.

Draw open path with Pen Tool

By clicking on the Close Curve icon, the path is now closed.

Open path closed in Affinity

Smooth Curve

When you click on the Smooth Curve icon, all of the nodes except for the last node are smoothed out. This is useful for any jagged edges that may be in your design. The last node placed will show as a node with a red line around it.

Each time you click on the Smooth Curve icon, more nodes are added to smooth out the design further.

Smooth out all nodes in design

Join Curves

For this example, we used the Break Curve icon to create an open curve. Then created a duplicate of the open curve. The duplicate was then flipped by right clicking > Transform > Flip Vertical. The Stroke Width was increased to 10pt to make it easier to see.

Select both curves by clicking + dragging a bounding box around them.

Design setup for joining curves in Affinity

Now, click on the Join Curves icon in the top toolbar.

Join curves icon in Affinity

As you will see, only one side has joined. Even though there is a fill, the two nodes on the right are not joined so the path is still open. The last nodes placed for each design is where the curves were joined.

Two curves joined in Affinity

You have two options here. You can use either Close Curves or again, Join Curves to close the path.

Close second curves path in Affinity

Reverse Curve

This simply reverses the direction the curve was created in. To make this less confusing let’s use points A and B. Point B is the last node placed in the curve.

Last node placed in curve

If we click on Reverse Curve, that last node will be swapped around and placed at Point A.

Click on Reverse Curve in Affinity

Now, while this doesn’t show anything obvious with a normal line, it’s a different matter with shaped lines. These can be tapered brushes, lines that are thicker on one side and so on.

Here we added an arrow to one end, then clicked Reverse Curve.

Reverse Curve in Affinity Designer GIF

Transform Tools

These tools are used for fine tuning node selection. To have access to the tools you need to first click on the first icon called Transform mode.

Enable Transform Origin - this is the origin point around which the design can be rotated. This point can be moved around. It is shown as a blue circle with crosshairs.

Hide Selection while Dragging - click on this icon to hide the selection box while dragging, rotating or resizing your design.

Show Alignment Handles - when clicked, you will see arrows appear. Hovering your cursor over these arrows will show alignment guides. You can click + drag these guides to align your design to.

Curves Box Mode - when using the selection box, all curves are selected besides those you specifically selected.

Cycle Selection Box - when editing, the angle of the selection box can change. For example, if you angled the design, the selection box may have angled as well. Clicking this option will set the selection box to its original form, but not change the angle of the design.

Snap Tools

Align to nodes of selected curves - when moving a node, this option allows you to align that node to any other node.

Snap to geometry of selected curves - snaps a node that you drag to any other node or path (line between the nodes).

Snap all selected nodes when dragging - all selected nodes will snap while moving. This is very helpful when aligning designs with each other.

Align handle positions using snapping options - when this option is selected, the handles of the node will snap to a path.

Perform construction snapping - this controls how the handles snap to a path.

Now that you have more knowledge about how to use the Node Tool, you can even edit text for a unique look.

Edit nodes of text in Affinity

Affinity Designer’s Node Tool is an essential part of designing. It gives you full control over every curve and node, from the simplest to the most complex of designs. We hope that this tutorial has been informative and helps you on your creative journey.


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