Create a Path with the Draw Tool

The Draw tool Draw tool icon is a freehand tool. It creates a curved path that follows your finger as you draw. You can use it to create graphics that resemble a hand-drawn image. It is possible to edit the created path.

Unlike the Pen tool, with which you place anchor points directly, the Draw tool adds anchor points automatically depending on the curvature of the path. An almost straight path may require only two anchor points on its ends, while a zigzag requires an anchor point every time it changes its direction. Another factor that determines the amount and location of anchor points is the Smooth parameter. We will discuss it later.

The Draw tool operates in two modes. Any time you draw, you are actually using either the Pencil or Brush tool. The Draw tool creates a path. How this path looks depends on whether the Stroke or Brush property is applied to the path. You can switch between Stroke and Brush using the Appearance panel.

When you are using the Draw tool, the app hides the Fill property of the object that you draw. This helps you see the object and surrounding design more clearly. As soon as you finish drawing, the Fill can appear on the object. This happens, if the Allow filling option is activated in the Preferences dialog, and if the current style includes the Fill property.

To continue drawing a path that you created earlier, select this path using the Move or Selection tool. Then activate the Draw tool and draw beginning from one or another path end. Such use of the tool requires that the path is open and the Allow to continue the Path option is enabled in the Preferences dialog.

The Disable touch drawing option can make your work with drawing tools more convenient if you are using Apple Pencil.

Settings of the Draw Tool

Settings of the Draw tool are located in the Control panel.

Control panel of the Pencil tool

The Smooth parameter defines the amount of smoothing applied to the path. Higher values make the curve more smooth. If you want to create a path that follows the tool as accurately as possible, set the parameter to "1".

The Close Radius (Close Path Within Radius) automatically closes the path that you draw. This happens only when the end point is placed within the specified distance from the start. The edit box lets you set that distance. The distance is measured in "screen pixels" and, consequently, doesn't depend on the canvas zoom level.

The gear icon opens two more options.

The Allow filling switch allows the Draw tool to apply the Fill property to the path while you are drawing it. This requires that you enable a Fill property in the Appearance panel.

The Allow to continue the Path switch enables the possibility to continue drawing a selected path with the Draw tool.

Stroke Profile

The Profile pop-up menu lets you choose one of three modes of the tool: Uniform, Pressure and Custom.

The Uniform profile lets you create a Stroke with constant width. It is used for the Pencil tool.

The Custom profile allows variable width strokes. It can be used with both Pencil and Brush tools. The Brush tool changes the stroke width depending on the direction of the path. The Pencil tool can produce lines with variable width if you select a non-uniform profile in the Stroke settings.

The Pressure profile lets you control the Stroke width using an Apple Pencil, which has a pressure sensor. The more pressure you apply, the thicker the stroke becomes. It doesn't support Brush strokes.

Control panel of the Pencil tool with customized profile

The Width parameter defines the maximum stroke width. It mirrors the Width parameter for a stroke in the Appearance panel.

The Variation parameter defines how much the stroke width changes depending on the pressure.

With lower values of Accuracy, the program normalizes the stroke width depending on the length of the path. So, while you are drawing, the already drawn part of the path can re-adjust its stroke width automatically. To make the stroke width remain exactly as you have drawn it, set the Accuracy to 100%.

Modifier Keys and Shortcut Summary

With an external keyboard, you can use the following shortcut and modifier keys.


Draw tool modifier keys: