Offset a path in Affinity Designer

How To Offset A Path In Affinity Designer

How To Offset A Path In Affinity Designer 800 470 Nick Saporito

Path offsetting is an essential function when it comes to vector design. It allows you to resize objects by adding or removing an equal amount of surface area around an object, which differs from scaling. Simply adding to an object’s width and height does not produce the same result as offsetting. In this tutorial we’ll be going over how to offset a path in Affinity Designer. This is accomplished with the help of the Contour Tool.

In short, all you have to do to offset a path in Affinity Designer is access the handy Contour Tool and click and drag the handle at the top of the selected object to increase or decrease its offset. Let’s examine in further detail.

Offset A Path In Affinity Designer

To offset a path in Affinity Designer, select the object and access the Contour Tool by pressing O on your keyboard. Using the handle that appears at the top of the object, click and drag it to the right to increase the offset, or to the left to decrease it.

The following video tutorial goes over the complete process, step-by-step:

Continue on for the written instructions.

Table of Contents

Offset A Path

Offset Properties

Offset A Path

Let’s first go over the workings of path offsetting, then we’ll have a look at some of the properties you can change.

Step 1: Select the object you’d like to offset

To offset a path in Affinity Designer we must first ensure that we have the path selected. Click on the object using the Move Tool  (keyboard shortcut: V) to select it. You will know it’s selected once you see a blue bounding box and transformation handles around it.

Step 2: Access the Contour Tool

Path offsetting is accomplished using the Contour Tool— a tool dedicated to path offsetting.

With your object selected, access the Contour Tool in the tools menu to the left of your screen, or by pressing the letter O on your keyboard:

Contour Tool location

The Contour Tool is a dedicated tool for path offsetting.

Step 3: Click and drag the handle at the object to change its offset

With the Contour Tool enabled, you should see a vertical transformation handle located at the center-top of your object:

Contour Tool handle location

The handle at the top of the object allows you to offset the path.

Clicking and dragging this handle allows you to offset the path. Moving it to the right increases the offset, whereas moving it to the left decreases it:

Offsetting the path

Drag the handle left and right to increase and decrease the offset.

Step 4: Finalize the changes by clicking Bake Appearance

You will need to finalize the changes once you are finished offsetting your path. As of right now, Affinity Designer does not recognize the object as a path that can be edited in some of the ways you normally would.

For example, you would not be able to edit the anchor points of the path, such as you would to do something like joining curves, in the object’s current state. You will first need to “bake” its appearance.

To do so, simply click the Bake Appearance button in the tool settings menu of the Contour Tool:

Bake Appearance button location

Click the Bake Appearance button to finalize the changes and convert the offset into a path.

Once applied, your offset path will be finalized with updated nodes/anchor points. Bear in mind though that these changes are final. You will have to create a new offset if you’d like to go back and edit it at any point.

Offset Properties

Now that you know the basics of offsetting a path in Affinity Designer, let’s have a look at some of the properties that can be changed when working with them. These properties can be located in the tool settings menu, towards the top of your screen, whenever you have the Contour Tool enabled:

Contour Tool settings

The three main components of the Contour Tool we’ll be going over include the Contour Type, Cap, and Fill.

Change Corner Styles

You may notice that when offsetting your path, the corners of the offset are automatically rounded. That is because of the Contour Tool’s default settings.

There are 3 types of corners you can apply to your offset:

  1. Round: The default setting for the Contour Tool is for the offset to have rounded corners. This setting is enabled by default.
  2. Miter: This setting will make the corners of your offset sharp. Be sure to toggle this setting if you’d offsetting an object with pointed/sharp corners.
  3. Bevel: This setting makes it so that your corners are squared, giving them a cut-off appearance.

Here’s a diagram depicting how each style looks:

Corner Styles

Three corner styles to choose from, depicted above.

You can toggle through these styles using the tool setting menu at the top of the screen. It is labeled as Contour Type.

Change Cap Styles

Within the tool settings menu you will see a section labeled Contour Caps. This setting allows you to change the style of a path’s endpoints.

There are 3 types of contour caps to work with:

  1. None: This is the default setting. When enabled, the endpoints of your path will not have the offset applied.
  2. Round: This setting applies a rounded cap to the endpoints of your path.
  3. Square: This setting applied a squared cap to the endpoints of your path.

A depiction of each style:

Cap styles

The three types of cap styles include none, round, and square (depicted above.)

Add Or Remove A Fill

The final setting we’ll be looking at in the Contour Tool menu allows you to remove the fill from your path so that the offset, and only the offset, remains.

By default, offsets are usually rendered in addition to the path. That’s because the Auto Closed option, under the Contour Fill section, is enabled by default. If you were to choose Force Open instead, the path’s fill will be removed and only the offset will remain:

Contour Fill

With this setting you can choose to remove the fill from your offset path.

Conclusion

Thanks to the handy Contour Tool, it’s easier to offset a path in Affinity Designer than it is in any other vector application. Illustrator requires that you navigate through a messy menu system and Inkscape requires it to be added as a path effect. Only in Affinity Designer do you have a dedicated tool for offsetting that is only a keyboard shortcut away.

If you have any questions or need clarification on any of the steps taken in this lesson, simply leave a comment below.

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Nick Saporito

Hi, I'm Nick— a Philadelphia-based graphic designer with over 10 years of experience. Each year millions of users learn how to use design software to express their creativity using my tutorials here and on YouTube.

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2 comments
  • Allan Dutch

    Hello Nick! Love your work, respect your time and patience.
    I want to create a Alfonse Mucha style drawing.
    As is often the case in his work the main objects are outlined and then have an offset outline around them.

    i create the drawing with each object having a single strike of a similar color.
    Then, I grouped them and tried applying an expanded stroke. Next I tried using the contour to.
    Is there a better way to do this?

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