Pen Tool in CorelDraw: Everything to Master Pen Tool

Welcome to my Pen Tool in CorelDraw series! With my experience teaching 100s of graphic design students offline and through Beginners Dateguide, I understand how challenging it can be to learn graphic design.

Pen tool in CorelDraw

With the Pen Tool’s significance in both vector and raster applications like Photoshop and Gimp, as well as its role in creating vector graphics using software such as CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, and Affinity Designer, I recognized the need to guide in effectively utilizing this fundamental tool.

I aim to provide you with the most straightforward approach to learning the pen tool. Enjoy your lessons.

Let’s begin!

The Basic Functions of the Pen Tool in CorelDraw

Do you prefer video content? Please watch the video below to see the practical use of the pen tool for beginners.

The Pen Tool is fundamental for crafting vector graphics, enabling designers to craft shapes with fluid, freeform curves. The Pen Tool is considered one of the most dynamic drawing tools in the CorelDraw Toolbox.

Before creating our first shape, let’s look at some of the pen tool’s basic functions.

What is the Pen Tool in CorelDraw?

The primary function of the Pen Tool is to draw paths. Paths are lines or shapes that can be manipulated, filled with color, used for selections, or converted into selections for various purposes within graphic design software.

The Pen Tool allows users to create precise paths and shapes by defining nodes or anchor points and manipulating bezier curves.

Using the Pen Tool

When using the Pen Tool, select it from the “Toolbox,” click to create the start node, and click again to draw the end node. To draw a curve, click and drag the “Pen Tool” holding down the mouse button to activate the bezier mode to make curved paths. 

The “Control handles” and “Control points” extending from the nodes allow users to control the direction and curvature of the path segments by adjusting their length and angle.

7 Importance and Use of the Pen Tool

The Pen Tool holds significant importance in graphic design software due to its versatility and wide range of applications.

If you’re new to graphic design, you may not yet have grasped the importance and use of the pen tool, despite having encountered numerous examples of its usage.

Here are some key points highlighting its importance and applications.

1. Drawing Paths

The Pen Tool allows designers to create precise and intricate shapes with smooth curves and clean lines. This precision is crucial for tasks like logo design, illustration, and digital art.

See how the pen tool is used in this Illustrator tutorial. Don’t forget that there may be some disparities in using the pen tool in CorelDraw.

2. Path Editing

Beyond just creating paths, the Pen Tool allows easy editing and manipulation of paths and nodes. Designers can refine and adjust paths until they achieve the desired result, giving them full control over the design process.

To know more about editing the paths you create in CorelDraw, read this article on the edit shape tools in CorelDraw.

3. Illustration and Design

Many digital artists rely on the Pen Tool for creating detailed illustrations and artwork. Its ability to create smooth, flowing lines makes it well-suited for sketching, outlining, and shading.

Logos often require clean, scalable graphics, making the Pen Tool indispensable for logo designers.

It allows them to create custom shapes and typography with precision, ensuring that logos look professional and consistent across different platforms and sizes.

Daniel White did a good job at TutsPlus using the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator to create a clean simple logo in this tutorial.

4. Masking and Clipping Paths

The Pen Tool is also used for creating masking and clipping paths, which are essential for isolating and manipulating specific parts of an image or graphic.

See the example of masking and clipping paths in this article: 5 ways to remove background in CorelDraw.

5. Typography and Lettering

When it comes to crafting custom typography and lettering designs, the Pen Tool offers unparalleled flexibility and control.

By drawing precise paths for each letterform, designers can create unique typographic compositions with perfect curves and angles.

6. Vector Art and Animation

In vector-based animation and motion graphics, the Pen Tool serves as a fundamental tool for creating dynamic shapes and motion paths.

Combining bezier curves with keyframe animation, artists can bring their creations to life with fluid movement and seamless transitions.

See how to use the pen tool in After Effects to create animation.

7. Photo Editing and Retouching

In photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop, the Pen Tool plays a crucial role in precise selections and masking.

By creating custom paths around subjects or objects, photographers can isolate specific elements within an image for targeted editing or compositing.

CreativeSalek whose channel has 70.4K subscribers got folks clapping hands in this YouTube tutorial where he taught How to Remove Background in Photoshop CC – Using Pen Tool.

Pen Tool Terms and Techniques

The Pen Tool operates through a series of clicks and adjustments, allowing users to define anchor points and manipulate bezier curves to create custom shapes and paths.

Here are terms and techniques you should familiarize yourself with.

1. Nodes/Anchor Points

These are points that define the start and end of a path segment. Clicking with the Pen Tool creates nodes or anchor points, and each subsequent click adds a new anchor point connected by a straight line or bezier curve.

2. Bezier Curves

By clicking and dragging on an anchor point, you can control the direction and curvature of the path segments, allowing for smooth and precise curves.

3. Handles

Handles extending from anchor points dictate the direction and length of the bezier curves. Adjusting these handles enables fine-tuning of the path’s shape and curvature.

4. Closing Paths

To close a path, simply click on the initial anchor point. This creates a closed shape, which can be filled with color or used as a selection for further manipulation.

At the end of this tutorial you will learn how to draw basic shapes with the pen tool, so keep reading.

What are Nodes?

Nodes are points on a path that defines their shape. These points are where the path begins, ends, or changes direction in graphic design and vector drawing software like CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, or Inkscape.

They play a crucial role in creating and editing vector graphics, allowing designers to create precise and complex shapes.

Difference Between Nodes and Anchor Points

In CorelDRAW, a node denotes the starting point, ending point, or any location where a path alters its direction. Conversely, Adobe Illustrator uses the term “anchor point” to describe these positions, which include the start, end, or points of directional change along a path.

Anchor points or nodes are connected by line segments or curves, and they can be manipulated to adjust the shape of the path.

Read this help document which compares CorelDraw and Illustrator tools on the Corel official page to see how Corel and Adobe refer to the term.

The terms “anchor point” and “node” are often used interchangeably in vector graphics software documentation and discussions.

How to Use Pen Tool in CorelDRAW for Beginners

As promised, we are finally here to draw some basic shapes in CorelDraw using the pen tool. If you use Illustrator, the skills acquired in this tutorial will help you as well.

Getting Started:

1. Select the Pen Tool

Install and launch CorelDraw if you don’t have CorelDraw already. You can download CorelDraw from the official website and try CorelDraw for free.

Install and launch CorelDraw

After launching your software, create your document where you can draw all your art by clicking “New Document.”

Create New Document

You can leave the default settings, for this tutorial, we will be defining custom units.

Set the document “Units” to ‘Pixels’ and specify the page dimensions with a width of “768” and a height of “512.” See the image below.

Specify page dimensions

Locate the “Pen Tool” in the “Toolbox” on the left side of the screen. It’s typically represented by an icon resembling a fountain pen. To select the pen tool, click on the “Freehand Tool” drop-down menu.

From the flyout, select the pen tool.

Locate the Pen Tool

2. Creating Nodes

Drawing with the pen tool in CorelDraw starts with creating a node. So let’s learn how to create our first node and build on it.

To start drawing with the “Pen Tool,” simply click on the “Drawing Page” to create nodes. Each click will generate a new node, and a line will connect each point as you continue clicking.

Click and move the mouse pointer to the next location and click again. To end your drawing double-click or select the “Pick Tool.”

line path
Curve path

3. Drawing Straight Lines

By clicking multiple times, you can create a series of straight-line segments. Each click will add a new node, and CorelDraw will automatically connect them with straight lines.

Click and move the mouse pointer to the right and click again.

Drawing a straight line with pen tool

More on how to draw a contained and freehand line in the next topic.

4. Drawing Curved Lines

To create curved lines, click and drag while holding down the mouse button. This action will create handles that control the curvature of the line segment.

Experiment with dragging the handles to adjust the curve to your liking.

Click to create the first node, then, hold down the mouse button and drag the mouse. You will notice a curve while you drag, when satisfied with the curve click again to create the second node.

Keep repeating the same process until you are ok with the curve and then press the “Escape” button on the keyboard to end the drawing.

Drawing curve lines with the pen tool

More on how to draw a curve in the next topic.

5. Closing Paths

To close a path and create a shape, simply click on the first node you created. This will complete the path and form a closed shape.

Let’s practice with a triangle.

Click to create your node. Move the mouse upward and create the second node. Next, move the mouse downward to create the third node.

Now let’s close our triangle by moving the mouse pointer to the first node to click inside the square that automatically appears to close our triangle.

Note: Clicking outside the square will not connect the last node to the first point. CorelDraw provides the square as a guide to click the first node to join your paths.

Closing paths with pen tool

Learning Pen Tool Advanced Techniques

6. Adjusting Nodes

After creating a path, you can fine-tune its shape by adjusting the position of individual nodes.

Select the “Shape Tool” (F10) from the “Toolbox,” click on a node to select it, and then drag it to a new position.

Let’s practice this by using the 3rd curve in our fourth node. See the image below.

Open the fourth exercise and select the “Shape Tool” in the toolbox or press F10 on the keyboard.

Shape tool

2. Select the curve object and you will see all the nodes that we created in the previous lesson.

Anchor points in curve object

You can adjust each of the points by moving them to a different location. Counting from the right, let’s change the position of the fifth node downwards.

Click the node while holding down the mouse button, and drag the point as shown in the picture below.

Adjusting nodes

7. Converting Nodes

CorelDRAW offers different types of nodes, including smooth, symmetrical, and cusp points. Experiment with these variations to achieve different shapes and curves.

8. Adding and Removing Nodes

Use the Pen Tool to add new nodes to an existing path by clicking on the path where you want to add a point. Conversely, you can remove nodes by selecting them with the “Shape tool” and pressing the “Delete” key.

Drawing Straight Line with Pen Tool

First launch your vector graphic software, CorelDraw or Illustrator, and select the “Pen tool.” In CorelDraw, you will find the pen tool in the “Toolbox.”

select pen tool

Click an empty or blank part of the drawing page to create your first node or start node.

Move the mouse pointer to the next location and click. Press the escape key or spacebar to complete the line.

Looking at your line, you will notice the line is jerky. That is fine. Let’s learn how to draw a constrained line this time.

drawing with pen tool without keyboard

To draw a straight line without it looking bumpy:

Select the “Pen tool” in the “Toolbox” or press the “Spacebar” to activate the Pen tool.

Click an empty or blank part of the worksheet

After you have created your start node, hold the “Shift” key down on the keyboard.

With the Shift key down, move the mouse pointer to the right or next location and click to create the end node.

This time, you will notice the line is straight. That is how you draw a constrained line using the Pen tool.

drawing straight line pressing shift key

Wait before I forget, you can also create a straight line without holding down the Shift key. But this is not quite easy to get.

Let’s look at this method.

Click to draw the start node, move the mouse pointer to the next area, and adjust the pen tool. Follow the pen tool preview closely, once the preview is straight click again to draw the end node.

If you get it congratulations! Let me know in the comments.

How to Create an Enclosed Shape with Pen Tool

We learned how to draw a straight line with the pen tool but that is not enough to make you create better shapes. It is just the start.

Now let’s take a step further to create an enclosed shape.

drawing enclosed shape

Select the Pen tool.

Click an empty or blank part of the worksheet. We are starting from the top right corner. You can start anywhere.

Hold the Shift key down on the keyboard, move the pen tool to the right, and click to draw the second node.

Note that we are holding the shift key down to draw a constrained line.

The shape we are drawing is a rectangle. Follow the picture above to arrive at the same result. After creating all the angles of the shape, we will have to click on the start node to close our shape.

Move the pen tool downwards to draw the next line. Click again to draw the bottom line.

Move the mouse pointer to the start node (the part of the shape you created first) and click on it to connect the shape.

That’s it. You’ve drawn a perfect rectangle.

Drawing Curves with Pen Tool

Select the Pen tool.

Click an empty or blank part of the worksheet.

With a finger on the Shift key, move the mouse pointer to the right and lick to make a point.

Now, slant the mouse pointer downwards, long-click the left mouse button, and drag the mouse to create a curve.

creating curve

Release the mouse button after getting the right shape.

Move the mouse downwards and click once to draw a straight line.

Slant the mouse pointer downwards but now to the left.

Long press the mouse button and drag the mouse to create another curve. Release the mouse button.

Move the pointer to the left to draw a straight line.

Slant the pointer a little upward and create a curve.

Draw another line, but now, upward.

Slant the pointer towards the right.

Click inside the top left connector and drag the mouse to create another curve.

Use the handle to adjust the curve.

final shape

Looking carefully, you will notice one of my curves is not perfect.

You can keep trying until you get the right connections or use the Shape tool to finetune the edges.

If you prefer a video please watch the video below.

What’s Next?

The best way to explain Pen Tool is through demonstration.

In the upcoming lessons, we will demonstrate the use of the Pen Tool through various designs, ensuring that the concepts remain easy to understand.

Course Materials

To follow along you need these course materials.

  • Windows 7 and above
  • CorelDraw X5 and above
  • Do not skip any of the exercises
  • Leave questions in the comment box or our Beginners Dateguide Community if you have a challenge.

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