master the pen tool in youidraw

Master the Pen Tool in YouiDraw

I got the idea to create a post to help my students master the Pen Tool in YouiDraw from the very helpful people over at PDS fan.  If you are using Photoshop head on over there but if you are looking to master the YouiDraw pen tool you’ve found the right place!

If you still need some very basic practice and additional information on the YouiDraw Pen Tool you might try this tutorial first: Pen Tool Basics.

Let’s get started!  If you are wondering, how do I use the Pen in YouiDraw, well you are about to find out.

PART 1 – Set up the work space

  1. First, download this bunny.  I created it in YouiDraw and anyone is free to use it for this tutorial.

learn vector drawing in youidraw

2. Now go to > Drawing > and Start from Blank.

3. Next, change the size of your art board.  To do this you click the Properties tab and then the document icon.  Adjust your width and height to Width=380 and Height=400.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 9.18.42 PM

4. Click on the pencil (top left) then Insert Image. youidraw file menu Find and select the bunny file that you just downloaded.  This will add it to your art board.

learn youidraw pen tool

5. Now, with the bunny selected, make the opacity 50% in the Properties panel under the feather (effects) icon.  Name the layer “Template” in the Layer Tree by double clicking the label for that layer.  Then lock the layer by clicking the lock icon.  Now you cannot select it or move it.

how to use the pen tool

6. The main thing to think about in YouiDraw (and possibly any vector software) is where your vector points will go.  Since, in YouiDraw, you are not able to change direction as you draw, you will need to stay focused on where the points are, not necessarily how your curves look.  You will clean up the curves after your drawing is complete using the Edit Tool.

There are two methods that I have found that work pretty well:

  1. Add points and handles as you go.
  2. Or add just the vector points, then add handles later.

Here are starting examples of each.  Notice that the vector points are in the same places on each bunny.  Either way works. (Click here for a basic description and examples of each.)

For this tutorial, I will be using the first method (creating the handles as you go).

pen tool in youidraw

**One more thing to remember when using the Pen Tool:  If you mess up, or undo, or switch tools in the Tool Panel while in the middle of using the Pen Tool in youidraw, you cannot pick up where you left off.  You will likely have to start over.

OK back to the lesson.

PART 2 – Drawing the outline using the pen tool in youidraw

7. Select the Pen Tool pen tool and click behind the neck and drag up and to the right. Don’t release the mouse until the handle is like my example below.  This creates a vector point with handles on each end.

you i draw pen tool

8. Next click below the ear and drag up and to the right.  Release the mouse.

you i draw pen

The curve you are drawing has a white fill that will eventually cover your template layer.  At this point you may want to uncheck the Fill box in the Properties Panel under the shape icon.

youidraw tutorial

9. Now click 3/4 of the way up the ear and drag up and toward the point of the ear.  This will be a small handle.

learn you i draw pen tool

10. Now click just on the other side of the ear and drag down toward the top of the head.

learn you i draw

11.  The next point will be at the point between the ears at the top of the head.  click there and drag very slightly up the other ear.

using the pen in youidraw

12.  Now click 3/4 of the way up the other ear and drag up and toward the point of that ear.

master the pen tool in youidraw

13. Now click just on the other side of the ear and drag down toward the top of the head.

you i draw pen tool

14. Next, click where the ear meets the head and drag slightly in the direction of the nose.

youidraw pen

15.  Now click on the nose where you image the curve of the head would be even though you can’t see it under the nose.  Drag downward.

vector pen tool

16. Now click where the head meets the body and drag downward.

using the pen tool

17.  Getting the curve of the chest can be tricky. Remember, each time a curve changes direction or shape, you need a new vector point. Place your next point just above where the chest puffs out the most. Drag a very short handle down and to the left.

pen tool

18.  Now click where the leg meets the body and drag down and to the right.

youidraw pen

19. Click where the leg meets the foot. Drag and down and very slightly to the left.

bunny foot

20. Click on the bottom of the foot and drag a small handle to the right.

master the pen tool in youidraw

21. Click on the other side of the foot and drag upward.

master the pen tool in you i draw

22. Then click where the leg meets the belly and drag down and toward the right.

draw a vector bunny

23. Next click where the belly meets the leg and drag to the left.

creating with the pen tool

24. Click were the back foot would meet the ground and drag straight to the right.

pen tool vector

25. Now click where the curve of the back foot starts to change directions up toward the tail. and drag a bigger handle up and to the right.


26. Now bring the next point all the way around to the top of the back and drag toward the beginning point.


27.  You are almost done with the basic outline.  All that is left is to click right on the first vector point that you created (notice the little circle that appears next to your pen when you hover over that point) and this will close out your shape!


28. Now select the Move Tool in the Tools panel and click off of the bunny (anywhere on the art board).  Your bunny is deselected and it should look something like this:

what it looks like

29.  If you haven’t saved yet, now would be a good time! Click on the pencil tool then Save As.  This will allow you to save your work to your computer or google drive.  Choose your drive, name the file, and click OK.  From now on, with this project, you will be able to click the pencil and just click Save.

PART 3 – Clean up the vector handles

30. Now, while you are using the Move Tool move tool, click on the black line around that makes up your bunny outline.  This will select the bunny.  Now choose the Edit Tool edit tool in the Tool Panel.  Notice that all of the vector points are now visible.  The Edit Tool allows you to make adjustments to your curves, including adjusting only one vector handle at a time, adding vector points, and deleting vector points.

Click on the vector point behind the ear…the first point you created. This allows you to see the two handles associated with this point. Hold down the Command (Mac) or the Ctrl (PC) key on your key board THEN grab (click and hold) the handle control point of the handle that is pointing up toward the ears. Now move this handle so that it is shorter and in a position like you see in my example below.  When you have finished moving it you can release the point THEN let go of the Command/Ctrl key.

adjusting handle control points

31.  Next, hold down the Command/Ctrl key and select the other handle control point and move it around so that it is facing the back of the bunny.


makind adjustments

31.  Now click on the vector point just above that, the one that is at the bottom of the ear.  You will now see the two handles for this point.  Hold down the Command/Ctrl key then click the handle control point of the handle that is pointing downward.  Move it to the right until the curve matches the shape of your template.

adjusting with the edit tool in youidraw

32.  In this same way, you will go all the way around the bunny selecting each vector point then adjusting the handles to make the curves match the template.  Don’t forget to hold down the Command or Ctrl key before you move a handle control point.  If you forget, it will adjust both handle control points at the same time and this is not what you want it to do.  Not to worry.  If you forget, just let go of the handle control point and undo using the undo arrow at the top of your screen.  Then start again.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 11.11.36 AM

33. Continue on around the bunny, selecting each vector point and adjusting it’s handles one at a time as needed.


This next graphic is just so you can see how the handles of each vector point are positioned.  (this is a compilation of screen shots that I put together for this purpose…you are never actually able to see all handles at one time in YouiDraw.)

vector handle position is important

Remember that a curve is determined by the handles on either side of it.

what determines a curve

Moving either handle will change the curve.  In my example, to make the curve match the template better, I will move the top handle up a bit.

adjust the vector handle

34. You can now easily zoom in and make any other needed adjustments.  The back foot on my bunny is not long enough.  I can simply click on that vector point and drag it out to the correct position.

move a vector point

In the same way I can move the vector point that is in the wrong position just above the front foot to it’s correct position.  Then I adjusted the handles as needed.

adjust the handles

Your bunny may have other adjustments that need to be made.

Save your work.

PART 4 – Add the finishing touches

35. Now use the Ellipse Tool to create the ear, nose, eyes and tail.  I usually will create these things away from the main art work and then move them into place.

Draw a long skinny oval using the Ellipse Tool.  Make sure the fill box is checked and click the swatch beside it to select a pink color.  Uncheck the stroke box.  Rename the ellipse layer “ear” in the layer tree.  Rename the body also if you haven’t already.

add the ear

Next select the move tool.  Click and drag the handle to tilt it then move it into place.

click-and-drag-to-tilt1 click-and-drag-to-tilt

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.50.04 PM

36. Now add circles to create the whites of the eye, the nose, and tail.  To make a perfect circle you will need to select the Ellipse Tool and hold down the shift key while you draw the circles. For each circle select the appropriate color and uncheck the stroke box.  Name each circle in the Layer Tree.

perfect circle in youidraw

37. To make the inner eye, create two perfect circles that overlap.  Don’t forget to hold down the shift key.  You will then select both circles.  To do this use the Move Tool and select one circle then hold down the shift key and select the other circle in the layer tree.

union tool in youidraw

Now click the subtract icon at the top of your art board. The top circle is subtracted from the bottom circle.

using the subtract option

Select a green fill color and uncheck the stroke box and move the eye into place.

youidraw eye

38.  Now all you need to do is select the body again and add a gray fill color and uncheck the stroke box.  If for some reason you can’t see any part of the bunny, you may have some of the pieces out of order in the Layer Tree.  Here is what mine looks like.  Remember the top layer in the Layer Tree is the back layer on your art board.  The bottom layer in the Layer Tree is the top layer on your art board.

layer tree

Hide the template by clicking the eye icon in the layer tree and you are done!  Nice work!  You just created an awesome drawing with the pen tool in youidraw. Don’t forget to save.

finished bunny

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