How to Break Curves in Affinity Designer

In graphic design, breaking a curve is like opening Pandora’s box. The Break Curve tool in Affinity Designer allows you to alter any basic or freely drawn shape, making the possibilities for unique shape designs virtually endless. Learning how to break curves is you putting a key into the lock and waiting to see what emerges when you lift the lid.

Breaking a curve in Affinity Designer is a fairly simple process and one that can elevate your graphic designs in just a few clicks. Read on to find out how to put curve-breaking to work for you.

Breaking the Curve Finetunes a Shape

The term “breaking a curve” is a bit of a misnomer. You might think this tool only allows you to work with circles or arcs, but that is not the case at all. You can break a curve in any shape, from the standard ones already in the toolbar to random shapes you draw yourself with the pen tool.

With the Break Curve option, you can finetune any of a shape’s segments, tweak the angle of two connecting lines, or redirect a line to intersect at another spot. The choice is yours. Your discerning, artistic eye can decide exactly how to adjust a shape to your satisfaction.

1. Draw a Shape

Let’s say you’re in Affinity Designer ready to work on a new document. There are two ways to create a shape on the blank workspace.

  1. Choose one of the pre-made shapes from the toolbar on the left side of your screen. All the basic ones are there: square, circle, rectangle, and diamond. Plus clicking on the white arrow opens up a longer list of shape options. 
  2. Use the Pen tool to freehand draw a shape with any number of sides and line segments. The last line you draw should connect with the beginning line so that you have a closed shape.

 Notice that there is a clear circle where each line segment connects with another one. You’re now ready to practice breaking curves in this new shape.

2. Manipulate the Line Segments

Each of the line segments in the shape can be manipulated in a different direction or be made to intersect with a different part of the shape. To do this, select the Node tool from the same toolbar you just used. The Node tool icon looks like an arrow without a tail. Your cursor will change to look like this tailless arrow.

Start by clicking on one of the nodes, or open circles. The node turns blue which indicates that you can manipulate it. Move the line and adjust its position in the shape’s outline.

Tip: For even more detailed adjustments, you can add more nodes simply by clicking along the path of line segments as many times and wherever you wish.

Adding nodes offers you many more places to manipulate the object’s shape. Click on any created node to move that line around.

3. Break the Curve

Now it’s time to unlock Pandora’s box. You must release the connection between two points so that you can break the curve.

  1. Select the node where you want to separate two segments.
  2. Click on the Break Curve tool on the toolbar at the top of workspace. It looks like an arc with a line through it.
  3. Grab the selected node with your activated Break Curve tool and manipulate that path segment as desired. Notice that the other path segment stays in place.

That gives you control over one single node and path segment. But what if you want to work with the entire shape and tweak it in lots of places? There’s an easier way to do this than selecting individual nodes.

Break the Curve Throughout the Entire Shape

If you have placed multiple nodes along the line path of your shape, with a couple of mouse clicks, you can select all of them at once. This allows you to manipulate each node and gives you uber control over how the shape looks.

  1. Select the Node tool icon on the left toolbar.
  2. Click and hold down the mouse button as you drag the cursor across the entire shape. You’ll see a blue box appear as you drag.
  3. Release the mouse button and every node will now be clear.
  4. Select the Break Curve tool from the top toolbar to activate every node and make each one available to be manipulated.

Final Thoughts

With just a few clicks of the mouse, the Break Curve tool in Affinity Designer lets you take a shape and tweak it anywhere along its outline to create a unique, new graphic that fits into your ultimate design.