Mastering the Sketch Vector Tool

As a designer you tend to spend a fair amount of time tweaking vector shapes. There are a couple different ways to draw shapes in Sketch, but the most versatile one is the Vector tool. The Vector tool is easy to start out with, but it takes practice to understand and master all of it’s functionality.

Years back I saw this tutorial about using the Pen tool in Photoshop and it teached me a lot about the intricacies of drawing vector shapes. I wanted to revisit this tutorial and create a similar one for Sketch.

At Yummygum we created a Sketch file that has a step-by-step guide on how to use the Vector tool. You can follow the instructions in the Sketch file to discover how the Vector tool works. Just trace along the letterforms to get to grips with the tool.

Below I’ll go more in-depth on all of the functionality of the Vector tool. Care to join me?

Anchor Points & Bézier Handles

Each shape is made up of points and bézier handles. A shape is drawn by connecting the dots between points. Bézier handles are used to add curvature to a shape.

Editing a shape

You can edit existing shapes in your file at any time by selecting it and hitting enter or by double-clicking on the shape. The inspector panel will reveal options for the point type corner radius en rounding the points to full or half pixel values.

Point Types

Each point can have either of the following point types. The point type describes how the bézier handles should behave. You can cycle through these types by selecting a point and hitting 1, 2, 3, or 4 on your keyboard.

1. Straight

This mode will give you a straight corner. This type also allows you to add a corner radius via the inspector panel on the right.

2. Mirrored

“Mirrored” will add two bézier handles that mirror each other So they are always parallel and the same lenght on both sides.

3. Disconnected

This option will give you two bézier handles that you can change individually. Perfect for sharp corners.

4. Asymmetric

“Asymmetric” is the same as mirrored, but it only keeps the bézier handles parralel. You can change the lenght of the handles individually.

At any time you can remove a bézier handle by clicking on it and hitting the delete key. You can also specify the position of a bézier handle manually by clicking on it. The “Position” coordinates in the inspector now change the position of the bezier handle. The alignment tools in the top of the inspector can be used not only on whole layers, but also on points.

Miscellaneous Shortcuts

Here are some other neat shortcuts that will save you lots of time and headache.

  • You can change between straight and mirrored by double-clicking on a point.
  • You can select the next or previous point by hitting tab and shift + tab.
  • By holding down the alt key while being in edit modus you can reveal all bézier handles.
  • Holding down the command key will ignore smart guides while dragging a point or bézier handle.

I hope this article has made you feel more familiar with the Vector tool’s capabilities. I have certainly learned some new tricks myself. I would love to know if this tutorial helped you get more familiar with the Vector Tool in sketch

Download the tutorial sketch file and try it yourself: