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
PC/Mac Pen Tool
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 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.
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.
Dragging your mouse will create a smooth curved node that follows an arc.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other settings and options
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.
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.
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.