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How to Use the Vector Tool in Affinity Designer
  • By Design Bundles
  • 04 May 2017
  • 16 Mins
  • Beginner
  • Affinity Tutorials

How to Use the Vector Tool in Affinity Designer

Learn how to use the Vector Tool in Affinity Designer with this beginner tutorial.

The Vector Brush Tool in Affinity Designer allows brush strokes to remain fully editable. You are able to edit the strokes, change the color of individual strokes and much more. In this guide we will show you to use the Vector Brush Tool in Affinity Designer.

Open Affinity Designer and create a new document of any size setting. Vector brushes are used exclusively in the Designer Persona.

Step 1 - Brush Controller Settings Explained

Before we begin, let’s discuss the brush Controller settings, located in the top toolbar. You will first need to click on the Vector Brush Tool on the left side toolbar.

The Controller settings determine how the brush stroke acts. It is usually set by default to Brush Defaults or None.

Locate Vector Brush in Affinity Designer

Brush Defaults

These are the default settings currently stored with the selected brush. You can then click on the Brushes panel top right, select a brush and start painting. The settings for that brush will be applied such as Width, Size, Opacity and so on.

Use Brush Defaults in Affinity Designer

When working with Vector brushes you may note that they look a little strange while painting. It’s as if the paint stroke has a life of its own, shifting or moving while you paint. This is because, as you paint, the stroke adjusts due to it being a path.

We will discuss this later in the tutorial. You may also find that, depending on your system, the painting may slow down a bit.

Automatic Brush Setting

This option relates to the device you are using such as a tablet or mouse. The brush settings will still apply but the Controller settings will not.

In the image below, we used the same brush as with the Brush Defaults. The light brush stroke was created with a mouse. The darker brush stroke was created with a tablet where you have more control over pressure. The heavier the pressure, the darker the paint stroke.

Automatic Brush settings in Affinity Designer

Brush Pressure Setting

The Pressure setting works best with a tablet. Pressing lightly on the tablet will give light brush strokes and darker brush strokes with a heavier hand. In the image below, with a single stroke, we went from light to dark just by changing the pressure on the tablet.

Brush Pressure in Affinity Designer

Velocity Setting

Velocity works according to the speed of your mouse. How fast you draw will affect how the brush reacts. This can be considered similar to Pressure but with the use of a mouse.

Velocity brush in Affinity Designer

The last setting, None, has no settings applied other than the brush settings you select.

Step 2 - Edit Vector Brush Settings

In order to edit the brush stroke, you first need to select it. In the example below we set the Controller to None, then painted a stroke. Next, we clicked on the Move Tool top left.

Resize the Vector Paint Stroke

You can now edit the paint stroke like you would any path such as resizing the stroke. Click + drag a corner or side in or out to resize.

Resize vector brush in Affinity Designer

Use the Node Tool

Since the Vector Brush Tool creates a path when painting, you can edit the nodes with the Node Tool.

Use Node Tool on Vector stroke Affinity

Scale and rotate with the Point Transform Tool or use the Corner Tool to individually edit corners in Affinity Designer.

Edit the Brush Settings

To have more control over how the brush works, you can adjust the settings to your liking. It is generally a good idea to duplicate the brush so you preserve the original. Under the Brush Panel, select a brush then right click > Duplicate.

The duplicate will be placed at the bottom of the brush category.

Duplicate a brush in Affinity Designer

Scroll down to the duplicate, right click > Rename Brush. We named our brush Test Brush for this tutorial.

Rename brush in Affinity Designer

Now, double click this brush to open the editing panel. You will see a brush preview where changes can be viewed.

There is a similar Controller option panel beneath the Opacity slider. The changes will work best with a tablet where pressure sensitivity changes. You will also need to change the Controller options in the top toolbar.

Brush Width: increase or decrease the brush width

Size Variance: increase or decrease end tapering

Opacity: increase or decrease opacity

We made a few adjustments in the image below. Now, when painting, with a single stroke we varied width according to the pressure applied.

Edit brush settings in Affinity Designer

Do note, if you have already applied paint strokes, those will be updated to reflect any changes when painting.

Next to the Controller options are the Brush profile settings. The curved graphs determine the shape of the brush.

Brush profiles in Affinity Designer

The Body selection has two options, Stretch and Repeat.

Stretch is what you normally see when painting with a brush. The pattern is stretched out for the length of the stroke.

Repeat is where the pattern is repeated over and over as you paint. The result will have gaps between the patterns.

Repeat paint brush pattern in Affinity

The Head Offset and Tail Offset determine the space between beginning and end. You can input values in the boxes or click + drag the red dotted lines.

Head and tail offset vector brush

Corners has three options, Fold, Overlap and Pull. Where there is a corner, these options will determine how those corners are created. That is, whether they fold over each other, overlap or are pulled.

This is easier to view when using the Node Tool.

Edit Corners of vector brush in Affinity

Change Vector Paint Stroke Color

Only the color of the paint stroke can be changed. You can’t add a color fill as this is considered an open path. If you added a fill, the image below would be the result.

Fill added to open vector result

The Stroke can be changed to any color you want using the top toolbar option.

Change color of paint stroke

You can also change the Stroke color using the Color Panel on the right hand side. Be sure to click on the “donut” to apply color to the Stroke.

Change stroke color in Affinity Designer

Step 3 - Adjust Pressure Without a Tablet

The pressure of the vector paint stroke can be adjusted even if you don’t have a tablet. There are two ways to access these settings. Either click on the Stroke Settings top toolbar or under the Stroke Panel on the right.

Adjust stroke settings in Affinity Designer

If you don’t see the Stroke panel on the right, go to View > Studio > Stroke.

Locate stroke panel in Affinity Designer

Access Brush Property Settings

In the Stroke Panel you have various editing options like changing the Width. You can even tick the box for Scale with Object so that the size scales proportionally. The Brush editing properties can also be accessed here by clicking on Properties.

Brush properties under Stroke panel

Edit Brush Pressure Settings

What we want to focus more on is the Pressure. This is the alternative option when you don’t have a tablet. Be sure to select the vector paint stroke to see changes applied in real time.

When clicking on Pressure, a graph will appear.

Pressure option for brush stroke

Clicking once anywhere on the line will place a node. You can then move any of the nodes with the left and right only moving up or down.

The added node can be moved in any direction. Moving it to either side will change the opacity, while up and down changes the size.

Move pressure nodes for brush

By adding nodes and moving them around you can create some interesting brushes. After adjusting the settings, we added new paint strokes to show the result.

Adjust pressure curve of vector stroke

To delete a node, place your cursor over the node until you see a crosshair. Now, right click once to delete it.

The Profile curve you created can be saved for use with other brushes. Simply click on Save Profile and a thumbnail preview will show at the bottom.

Save pressure curve profile in Affinity

To apply, draw out the paint stroke or select a current one. Then click on the Profile. To reset the curve to default, click on Reset.

Apply saved pressure profile

The Vector Tool in Affinity Designer is a powerful and flexible tool for designers. Vector brush strokes make fine tuning designs far easier and more efficient. We hope that this tutorial has helped you to understand and utilize the Vector Brush Tool to its full capacity.

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