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How to Use the Pen Tool in DesignScape
  • By Nadine Spires
  • 27 Apr 2022
  • 19 Mins
  • Intermediate
  • DesignScape

How to Use the Pen Tool in DesignScape

In this tutorial discover how to use the powerful features of the Pen Tool in DesignScape.

The Pen tool in DesignScape is not only a handy tool but also a powerful one. The Pen tool uses paths and anchor points to build up a design from scratch. You then have full flexibility when editing the smallest detail. We will guide you on how to use the Pen tool in DesignScape, an awesome browser based alternative to Illustrator.

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We will be showing you different ways to use the Pen tool. So for this tutorial we are using a lake svg but we have tons of Lake designs to choose from.

Step 1 - Draw a Path with the Pen Tool

Open DesignScape and create a new project with any dimension you want. Let’s begin with the basics.

Choose Shape or Path

On the left side panel, click on the Pen Tool. At the top toolbar you will see a drop down menu for Shape or Path.

When choosing Shape, a new layer will be created under the Layers Panel. This shape will also use the Fill and Stroke selected in the top toolbar.

Shape option pen tool in DesignScape

When selecting the Path option, only a path will be drawn. A new layer is not created when using the Path option.

Path option pen tool in DesignScape

However, if you click on Shape, then choose a color, it will be converted to a shape.

Change path to shape in DesignScape

The Path option can be used to create a selection to mask layers. For this tutorial, we will be using the Shape option to show how the Pen Tool works.

Begin Placing Nodes

Let’s begin by clicking anywhere on the document to place the first anchor point.

To place the second point, drag your cursor a little further away then click again. Press Enter on your keyboard to complete the path. You will see that the corner nodes change from circular to square.

Draw path with Pen tool in DesignScape

You now have your first path. If you don’t press Enter after the last anchor point, a new point is placed each time you click. The path will be filled with the color selected top toolbar.

The path still remains open even if we press Enter to complete the path.

Place new anchor point in DesignScape

Close the Path

To better show this, we removed the fill. Go to the top toolbar, click on the Fill color box and select None (white box with red cross).

We added a fourth anchor point to our path. You can clearly see the gap in the path.

Remove fill from path in DesignScape

Since we have already pressed Enter, clicking again will not place another anchor point. If you want to close the path, there are two ways to do this.

The quickest way is to click the starting point, which will automatically close the path.

Close path in DesignScape

The second way is to use the Pen Tool. Make sure that the Pen Tool is still selected. Next, click on the last anchor point to make it active. It will change from a square to a circle. Now, you can carry on clicking and placing nodes however you want.

Add more anchor points in DesignScape

The path can also be closed by making the last point active then clicking on the first anchor point.

Click to close path in DesignScape

Create Diagonal Lines

If you want more control over drawing lines, hold Shift + click to create diagonal lines. This helps greatly when working with intricate drawings. We changed the Stroke in the top toolbar to make this easier to see.

Create diagonal lines in DesignScape

Step 2 - Create a Curved Path

With the Pen Tool you can also create a curved path. Click to place the first anchor point, then, click + drag to place the second one while creating a curve. Carry on clicking + dragging to place additional curved points.

Create a curved path in DesignScape

When dragging out a curve, the placement of anchor points can make things appear cramped. You can move the curved point around while drawing to get a better curve.

After clicking + dragging out the second point, keep holding your mouse button down. Now, hold down the Spacebar, then drag your cursor to where you want. There you go, a nice lovely curve.

Use Shift to adjust curved anchor point

As you drag to create a curve, you will see handles appear or lines with round circles. These handles allow us to fine tune the design. Let’s use a rough heart shape below as an example.

Create a rough heart shape

Step 3 - Adjust the Anchor Point Handles

In order to adjust the handles, we need to select another tool. On the left side panel, just below the Pen Tool, click + hold to open the selection menu. Now, click on Direct Select.

We dragged a selection box around the heart shape to show the anchor point handles.

Edit anchor handles in DesignScape

Certain anchor points can be selected to be adjusted together. Click on the first point, then Shift + click on additional points to select them as well.

Edit the Path Anchor Points

When clicking a point, you will see handles appear either side of the anchor point. You will also see handles appear for the opposite points.

If you click + drag the circular ends of the handles, you will make a sharper or smoother curve. Click + drag the anchor point to move it around.

Adjust anchor handles in DesignScape

Before we begin smoothing out this heart shape, let’s quickly discuss Adding and Deleting anchor points.

Deleting Anchor Points

Sometimes deleting anchor points is a quick way of creating a smoother curve. You can select the point, right click > Remove Anchor Point. Alternatively, hit Delete on your keyboard.

Delete anchor point in DesignScape

Adding Anchor Points

To add more anchor points you need to use the Pen Tool. Select the Pen Tool, then click once anywhere on the path to add a new anchor point.

Add anchor points in DesignScape

A good thing to note when using the Pen Tool, you can also quickly delete points. Just click once on an anchor point and it will be removed.

To edit the anchor point handles, click back on the Direct Select tool. The rough heart shape was smoothed out in the image below.

Smooth out curves for rough shape

To round a sharp corner, just double click the anchor point. This will change it to a curved point. You can individually edit each handle node by pressing Alt then clicking + dragging the handle. This will let you move it independently of the other handle and help when creating sharp points.

Use the Corner Radius Option

A sharp corner anchor point, like that on a square, can be equally rounded with the Corner Radius tool. For this example we will create a Rectangle from the Shape Tools on the left hand side.

With the shape drawn out, click back on the Direct Select tool to edit the anchor points.

Create a rectangle in DesignScape

At the top toolbar click on the icon Corner Radius and a small window will pop up. Here you can manually input the corner radius. This will split the one anchor point into two, creating an evenly rounded corner.

Smooth out corner anchor point DesignScape

You can then manipulate the anchor point handles however you choose.

Change anchor points for corner

Step 4 - Use the Free Pen Tool

When you click on the Pen Tool you will notice another tool in the same menu. The Free Pen tool acts like a normal pen when drawing. DesignScape will do its best to smooth out rounded areas.

Change the Tolerance

You can get a smoother result by adjusting the Tolerance on the top toolbar. A higher tolerance number will create a smoother path.

Free Pen Tool in DesignScape

In the top toolbar, New Layer will automatically be selected. Each time you draw a new path, a new layer is created under the Layers Panel.

Paths placed on own layers

Edit the Path

Following Step 3, adjust the anchor points to create the result that you want. Now, keep in mind that these lines are still open paths. If you try to add a fill, this is the result you will get.

Path remains open in DesignScape

To close the path, switch back to the Pen Tool.

First, make sure the path is selected by clicking on Direct Select. Then, click on the first anchor point to select it. Go back to the Pen Tool and click on the first anchor point again. The path will now be closed.

Close path created with Free Pen Tool

Step 5 - Edit the Path Stroke

The Stroke width can be increased, decreased or dotted lines added. Change the Stroke color using the top toolbar.

Edit Stroke of path in DesignScape

Next to the Width is a drop down menu with a long line icon. Click on this to open additional options.

Here you can change where the path is placed. By default, it is placed in the center. It can be moved to outside the line width or inside. You can also change the line to dashes and dots as well as round the edges.

Edit stroke properties in DesignScape

Step 6 - Use the Pen Tool with SVGs

The Pen Tool works exceptionally well for editing SVG files. For this example, open a file in DesignScape. You will see that the design elements are on their own layers. Under the Layers Panel, click on a design layer.

Then, click on the Direct Select tool on the left side.

Edit SVG in DesignScape

Edit the anchor points however you choose. We decided to curve the water design a little more. We then adjusted the anchor points to make some space.

Adjust anchor points on SVG

The Pen Tool was used to add additional anchor points for more flexibility. The handles were adjusted to create a nice curve.

Add new anchor point to SVG

Carry on to edit the anchor points until you are happy. Have fun manipulating the design using the Pen Tool and Direct Select tool.

The Pen Tool in DesignScape is a exceptional tool for designers. It gives you the freedom to create whatever you can imagine down to the finest detail. In Designscape, you control exactly how your design is created.

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