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How to Use the Pen Tool in Affinity Designer

The pen tool is a very versatile drawing tool in Affinity Designer. You can use it to draw curves, straight lines, and shapes. You can draw individual line segments or line segments that are part of a larger line or shape. Once drawn these segments and anchor points can still be edited to change the shape of the curve.

 

Locating and selecting the pen tool.


While the location of the tool and settings are slightly different between the iPad version and the PC/Mac version, the pen tool functions the exact same way in both versions. The pen tool is located on the left side tool bar and is represented by the icon of a fountain pen.

iPad Pen Tool


 

Locating the Pen tool Affinity Designer iPad


 

PC/Mac Pen Tool


 

Locating the Pen tool Affinity Designer PC:Mac

 

Locating the Pen Tool Settings and Menus


There are several modes and setting within the pen tool that control how your drawing will appear on the screen.

 

Pen settings on iPad


After selecting the pen tool you will see a second menu bar at the bottom of the screen. Here is where you can control the modes and options for your drawing.

 

Pen tool settings Affinity Designer iPad

 

Pen settings on PC/Mac


After selecting the pen tool you will see a second menu bar at the top of the screen. Here is where you can control the modes and options for your drawing.

 



 

Pen tool modes


The Pen tool has seven different modes of operation that you can use to draw with. Clicking on the modes with the pen tool selected will change the mode. We'll go over the function of each one below.

 

Pen Mode


The pen mode is the main mode used for drawing. It's very versatile and you can create straight lines, Bézier curves and shapes. The lines that you draw can have sharp corners or smooth curves depending on whether you click or drag with your mouse or pencil. A single click will create a sharp node for the corner. This tool is great for creating shapes and lines that need both types of corners.

 

Clicking to create a sharp corner Affinity Designer

 

Dragging your mouse will create a smooth curved node that follows an arc.

 

Dragging to create a curved node Affinity Designer

 

Smart Mode


Smart mode creates lines and shapes with smooth flowing curves that arc naturally. In Smart mode the program determines how sharp or smooth your curve needs to be based on the placement of the next node.

 

Pen Tool Smart Mode Affinity Designer

 

Polygon Mode


Polygon Mode only draws lines and shapes with sharp nodes for corners. Clicking and dragging will move the node but not change the type of the node.

 

Pen Tool Polygon Mode Affinity Designer

 

Line Mode


Selecting Line Mode you can only create single segments. Lines consist of a start point and an end point only. You cannot create closed shapes with the line tool.

 

Pen Tool Line Mode Affinity Designer

 

Preserve Selection


This mode is used together with any of the other creation modes. When it is selected it keeps the previously drawn lines and shapes selected so that you may more easily add on to existing shapes with new lines and curves.

 

Pen Tool Preserve Selection Affinity Designer

 

Add new curve to selected curve


This mode when selected with another mode creates new curves on the same layer as the previous curve. Imagine you are drawing letters. The letter 'b' for instance is one letter but made up of two separate lines. Using this mode allows them to be on the same layer. If you want to have them on different layers at a later time, you can go to the Layer Menu and choose Geometry and then Separate Curves.

 

Pen Tool Add new Curve Affinity Designer

 

Rubber Band Mode


When selected in conjunction with another drawing mode, the Rubber Band Mode will give you a preview of what your drawing will look like before placing  the next node.

 

Pen Tool Smart Mode Affinity Designer

 

Conversion Tools


The next set of icons in the tool bar are the conversion tools. Holding down the Command Key whilst clicking on any of the nodes and then selecting one of the conversion icons will convert that specific node to the active type.  For example if you have a sharp corner node, you can change it to a smart node or a smooth node.

 

Pen Tool Conversion Tools Affinity Designer

 

Other settings and options


 

Fill Color


You can select a fill color for your shape or curve but clicking on the Fill Icon and then selecting a color from the color wheel that pops up.

 

Pen Tool Fill Color Affinity Designer

 

Stroke fill


You can select a stroke color for your shape or curve but clicking on the Stroke Icon and then selecting a color from the color wheel that pops up.

 

Pen Tool Stroke Color Affinity Designer

 

Stroke Options


Under stroke options you can adjust the thickness of the stroke as well as various other more advanced settings, including choosing a solid line or a dashed line.

 

Pen Tool Stroke options Affinity Designer

 

If you like this tutorial you can look up our other Affinity Designer tutorials like typing on path, making a gradient, and text basics in Affinity Designer.

 

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