Sketch 100 — Everything new in 3 minutes. Learn more

Skip Navigation

Vector editing

Last updated on 29 Aug 2023
8 min read

Drawing a new shape using vectors

Drawing a new shape

Watch lesson

To draw a new shape layer using the Vector tool Vector tool, choose Insert > Vector from the toolbar or press V. Click anywhere on your Canvas to create your first point, the click again to create another point.

The line between all points in your shape is called the path. The part of the path that lies between two points is a segment.

You can create as many points as you like to draw a shape you want. To close the path, click on the first point again.

If you click and drag when creating a point, you’ll create a mirrored point Mirrored and curved path (or Bézier curve), which you can control using the handle that appears connected to the point.

How to create a simple vector shape using the Vector tool

Hold to snap a point at 45° angle increments from the previous point.

Editing an existing shape

To edit an existing shape in vector mode, double-click on the shape layer, or select it and press Return . You can also select multiple shapes and edit them at the same time.

Editing shapes

Watch lesson

Editing corners

Watch lesson

Selecting points

Press Return on a vector shape to enter vector editing mode, then click on any point on the shape to select it.

Selecting and editing points in a vector shape

To select multiple points in a shape, hold and click on each point. To deselect, click on a selected point again.

To jump from one point to the next, press Tab — or Tab to jump to the previous point.

Multiple points of a vector shape being selected and deselected

While in vector editing mode you can also click and drag from outside of a shape to select points inside it. Press as you drag to deselect any selected points or add new points to your selection.

Multiple points of a vector shape being selected and deselected by dragging

To select points in open shapes while in vector editing mode, press X and then click or drag over the points, or enable the Selection button Selection in the Inspector next to the X and Y fields.

You can also select multiple points across different shapes by clicking and dragging, so long as you’ve selected them all and are in vector editing mode.

Multiple points being selected and edited across multiple vector shapes

To select all points in a shape while in vector editing mode, press A, or select Edit > Select > Select All from the Menu Bar.

Moving points

To move a point, select and drag it. You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard, or change its X and Y values in the Inspector. You can hold shift to move points along a single axis, just like moving layers.

You can also use the Distribute and Align tools to equally distribute or align multiple vector points.

Changing point types

When you select a point, you can change how it affects the path by selecting from four different point types in the Inspector:

An annotated image showing the four different point types you can use in vector editing mode

The four point types you can use in vector editing mode

  1. Straight is the default point type which gives you a straight path without any handle control points. If you want to create rounded corners on a Straight point, drag the Radius slider. You can set individual corner radii for every point on your shape.
  2. Mirrored Mirrored points create curved paths (or Bézier curves) and have two handle control points. You can drag a control point to adjust your curve, which the other point will mirror. To create a Mirrored point, click and drag with the Vector tool Vector tool, or double-click on any existing Straight point.
  3. Disconnected Disconnected points have handles that are completely independent of each other. To change your curve into a straight line, select either handle control point and press Backspace to delete it. You can disconnect any point by holding while you drag one of its handle control points. When you hold and create a new point after a Mirrored or Asymmetric point, you’ll make that point Disconnected. This won’t affect the curve leading to it.
  4. Asymmetric Asymmetric points have handles that can be different distances from the vector point, but share the same angle.

Holding while you drag a handle control point will change its distance from the vector point without changing its angle, which is handy for fine-tuning your curves.

You can quickly change the point type of any point you’ve selected by pressing:

1 Straight
2 Mirrored Mirrored
3 Disconnected Disconnected
4 Asymmetric Asymmetric

To quickly see all the handles that control curved points in a vector shape, select it and hold .

Inserting points

You can insert a new point anywhere along a path by clicking on it. Alternatively, click and drag to create a curved path Asymmetric. To create a point in the exact center of two existing points, hold .

How to add a new point exactly in the middle of two existing points

Bending a segment

Hold then click and drag on any segment (the path between two points) to bend it. This will add handle control points to the points either side of it.

How to add a curved path to a vector shape

Opening and closing paths

A shape’s path can either be closed or open. When a shape is closed, the path connects the first and last points. Open paths have a gap between the first and last points.

To close a path by connecting the first and last points, choose Layer > Path > Close Path in the Menu Bar, or by pressing O. You can use the same method to open a closed path.

The difference between closed and open paths

To create an open path, add your points, then press Finish Editing in the Inspector or press Return to leave vector editing mode. The next time you edit this shape, you can continue where you left off and place your next point after the last or before the first point.

How to finish editing open paths

You can also use the Scissors tool Scissors to open a path and cut away a segment between two points.

When you’re editing an open path and click on the opposite end point, you can choose in Settings > Layers whether that closes the path or selects that point.

If you add a fill to a shape with an open path, the fill will still act as if the path was closed.

Joining paths

Select two or more open paths and choose Layer > Path > Join from the Menu Bar to combine them into a single path. The bottom-most path will stay in position while the paths above it may move slightly to fit together.

How points snap to pixels

When you’ve selected a vector shape, you can click the vector snap icons near the top of the Inspector to select whether vector points snap to full pixel edges Vector Snap — Full, half pixels Vector Snap — Half, quarter pixels Vector Snap — Quarter — or choose not to snap them at all Vector Snap — None.

To get a better idea of where your points are snapping to, zoom in and enable the Pixel Grid by selecting View > Canvas > Show Pixel Grid on Zoom, or pressing X. When you zoom in, you’ll see points snap to the pixel level you selected as you move them.

How to set pixel snapping when editing vectors

Turning a border into outlines

Select any shape with a border and select Layer > Convert to Outlines or press O to turn that border into a shape with its own fill.

Offset Path

To expand or contract a shape’s outline, select it and choose Layer > Path > Offset. As you drag the slider in the Inspector, you’ll see a preview of the offset path on the Canvas. You’ll also see an outline of the original shape to help you compare your changes to your shape’s original size. You also have the option to make your offset a duplicate layer.

You’ll also find the Offset Path option in the Tools dropdown menu in the Toolbar. You can even add Offset Path as a custom Toolbar item via View > Customize Toolbar and dragging the icon to the Toolbar.

How to use Offset Path with vector shapes

Reversing the order of a path

If you have a shape with an open path, it has a clear direction from its start point to its end point. To reverse that direction, choose Layer > Path > Reverse Order from the Menu Bar. That means you can now add a new point at the newly created end point, or reverse the direction of an arrow that can appear as part of a border.