I want to draw for example a hand of a 50's cartoon. I know how to do a closed shape with the pen (in Affinity Designer):


The problem is when i want to put the lines of the fingers, Is there a way of do it with the same object?

Currently i am doing it putting another curve for every finger, but maybe there is a way to do it in the main shape of the hand.


At first: There's no such thing as closed path with a single stroke side branch. The branch must be a separate path or it must be forth-back. Of course you can convert the paths themselves to filled areas and make an union, but they become practically uneditable. Let's check the forth-back branch. I assume you have got something like this before adding the extra lines:

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Drag the corner point between the fingers to the other end of the line between the fingers and insert nodes to half way of both generated V branches

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Drag the new nodes to the same point; they should snap. Then drag the curve to one. Do not drag handles, the curve moves quite loyally. You probably must adjust a little the handles at the ends of the fingers.

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This is much extra work if you have many hands to draw. I guess it would be far easier to leave the separate extra paths, only group them with the outline to keep all together.

Not asked: If you are going to draw plenty of new images in that style, not only trace a few old images, you have a little underpowered tool. A fast way to draw is to use open curves and fill the areas with a paint bucket. Affinity designer hasn't it. Illustrator has it (= the shape builder) and it's precise. Inkscape has one too, but it works in screen resolution. It has been still quite useful, if the filled area is zoomed in to big size at first. Unfortunately I do not know, how well it works in other vector drawing programs.

Open curves can be drawn fast with the pencil tool. Use heavy smoothing to get only a few nodes. Too many nodes = difficult to adjust. Using Wacom or other tablet you draw nearly as fast as onto paper.

These are the open curves I mean:

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This is in Inkscape. There the stroke should be quite narrow and snap on path should be ON. The ends must be often moved onto the next curve except if you start on an already drawn curve.

This is what the paint bucket makes:

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This can be good enough, but it isn't exact. Illustrator's Shape Builder is far more developed. It doesn't care the stroke width, it uses the midline. Inkscape's paint bucket fills only to the stroke edge and does it in screen resolution. It's like autotracing the screen image.

  • Wow, thank you very much for the explanation. The first part is what I was looking for. And the next explanation it is also very useful. – MikelMats May 21 '19 at 9:55

I'll tackle this in the most straightforward manner in Affinity Designer with a workflow which goes from how one naturally draws such a hand to the desired end result, quite quickly.

It appears far longer written than it is in practise: to draw this hand, with screencaps for documenting the process took me less than a minute.

One: draw the cartooney hand, using the Vector Brush tool, with independent lines for each curve as one would normally draw or sketch. In my case using an old Wacom Intuous graphics tablet, pressure feeding stroke width.

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Two: Group all these curves. Double click into that group, select only those curves which (partially) form the outline of the hand against space, excluding any lines which only delineate internal details.

Three: Copy-paste these outside the group, hide the group in the Layers Palette.

Four: By left-clicking on a curve with the Node Tool (white arrow) add anchor-nodes where those lines intersect.

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Five: Then, with that node still selected, click on Break Curve in the tool-dependent area of the menubar (break, join etc only show up when you have a curve selected and are using the Node Tool) to break the curve at that node.

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Six: Delete the extraneous curve portion (the interior curve of the base of the thumb in this case). Select both the contour curves (in my case the thumb and the wristline curves) and select Join Curves - note you don't need to select the specific nodes at which they connect, and in fact they don't have to perfectly touch - just have both curves selected and it'll work well.

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You will then see your curves joined into one.

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Continue this for all the curves in the exterior contour of the hand.

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Seven: Remove the stroke from this curve, and fill and apply transparency as you prefer for the final effect, and in my case I closed the curve along the wrist to control the wrist bump in the fill - I didn't have to do this - Affinity Designer will happily fill unclosed curves.

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Eight: Now unhide your original drawn curves of the entire hand, having assured that this group is higher in the draw order in the Layers Palette than the whole hand fill we just constructed, and you're good-to-go!

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Hope this helps.

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