Render a Cool Vector Droid in Pixelmator

Render a Cool Vector Droid in Pixelmator



Difficulty: Advanced


vector droid final


In this advanced Pixelmator tutorial we will give the Pixelmator 2 vector tools a nice workout. We'll show you how you can build bigger vector objects from smaller parts. Also learn to use the screen measuring tool, guidelines and vector center points to align objects. Let's get vectoring!

Tools and Setup

First, choose a canvas. We'll go with an 800px by 1000px set at 300dpi so we can print our final piece if we want.

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Pull out a vertical guideline and set it a 400px, the center of our document. Measuring and the use of guidelines will be important to get the symmetry we are looking for.

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We will be using the Screen measuring tool in Pixelmator. What you didn't know? It's a fairly hidden feature, simply click your pointer between the rulers (in the red box) and drag on to the canvas to set your measuring reference point where you want. Double click in the same area to return the rulers back to default (starting from the far top left of the document) When used in combination with guidelines it becomes a powerful tool.

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If you can't find all of your vector tools go to Preferences > Tools > Drawing and you can drag the tools over to the tools palate in what ever arrangement suits you. You can even group them together which creates a drop down menu to save space.

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Step 1 - Middle Section

In this Pixelmator tutorial we will be using the Pen Tool, Rectangle shape, Ellipse shape (round / oval) and the Rounded rectangle shapes. Choose the Rounded rectangle shape to start with. You won't need to add a new layer, like the text tool shapes will create there own layers each time we pull a new shape.

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Pull a 244px wide by 190px high rectangle. Set the rounded corner radius to 20px using the blue handle in the top left corner. Next in the tool options bar click the Shape Settings button and the Shape Settings palate will appear. Set the fill color to #191919 and the Stroke to Black, center and 6px. Line up this shape using the transform center points (small white square handles) to the center guideline. Use the keyboard arrow keys to get it exact. Finally name this layer "Backpack".

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Next choose the Rectangle shape. Make sure the the Tool options bar reads "Draw new shape" up at the top. Then pull this rectangle - W: 148px H: 110px, Fill color: #B3B3B3. The stroke on future shapes will stay at black and center for the whole tutorial and 6px until I tell you to change it. Name this layer "Torso" and line it up with the center guideline.

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Pull another rectangle shape - W: 52px H: 290px, Color: #B3B3B3. Each time you pull a new shape remember to do it on a blank part of the canvas so you don't accidentally select and move an existing shape. When your done name this layer "Spine" and center it as shown.

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Switch to the Rounded rectangle and create this shape - W: 84px H: 22px, Color: #B3B3B3, Radius: 6px.

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Name the layer "Vertebrae" and center along the guideline.

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Duplicate this layer 5 more times, centering and spreading them evenly apart. Select and group all the shapes we've made so far in a group called Middle Section.

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Step 2 - Droid Head

Choose the Rectangle shape and pull this - W: 226px H: 244px, Color: #005CDB. Name the layer "Head" and center it.

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Now to customize any vector shape, right click on the shape and choose, "Make Editable". This will show all of your Bezier points and allow you to add delete, move and manipulate them.

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On this shape add a Bezier point along the top center by simply double clicking on the shapes outline. The outline is not the black stroke it's the true edge of the shape itself, shown by a thin grey line. if you can't see this line, right click on the shape and choose "Show Outline", it should be shown by default. This is where all measurements of the shape are taken from and where Bezier points are located. Add two more Bezier points along the sides as shown. Lastly, delete the Bezier points in the corners by clicking on them once and hitting delete.

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To select more than one Bezier point click on the first one then CMD click on the second one. To move these downward in a straight line hold the SHIFT key and drag. Move them down slightly as shown.

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Now that your getting the hang of it let's speed up the process. Using the Rounded Rectangle shape make these three shapes for the face of our Droid. Mask - W: 168px H: 70px Color: #02B5FF Radius: 20px. Eye - W: 26px H: 44px Color: #333333 Radius: 6px. Mouth - W: 76px H: 32px Color: #333333 Radius: 8px.

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Select the Mask shape and place guidelines across the vertical and horizontal center points. Line up the Eye shape along the horizontal guideline and holding Option and dragging, duplicate it. Set the eyes evenly apart, you can do this by dragging the Screen Measuring tool to the center guideline. Then set vertical guides on either side the same distance apart from the center.

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Last, move the Mouth shape to center using the keyboard arrow keys.

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Switch to the Move tool and select these four layers.

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Drag them over the Head shape and align them center.

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Choose the Rounded Rectangle shape and make this - W: 30px H: 44px Color: #02B5FF Radius: 6px.

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Right click and make the shape editable. Delete the two Bezier points where the green circles are. Add a new point to the left side center and drag it out and up slightly as shown. Double click on this same point to sharpen the tip. You may need to sharpen the top and bottom Bezier points on the same left side as well.

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Duplicate this layer and flip one of them over horizontally. Go to Edit > Flip Horizontal. Place them as shown and use a guideline to make sure they are parallel.

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Select all of these shapes including the Head and group them together, name the group "Head Section".

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Step 3 - Chest Plates

Now let's get custom! First drag two guidelines to where the red lines are shown below. Grab the Screen Measuring tool and place it on the intersection of these lines (in the red circle). Next place two more vertical guides at 44px and 104px. And two horizontal guides at 48px and 204px.

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Now choose the Pen Tool and create this shape. It works a little different, you don't drag like you do shapes, instead you click to set an anchor point then move your mouse over to the next point and set another anchor and so on. Hold SHIFT as you move the mouse any time you need a straight line. When you come to the starting point a tooltip will pop up to Finish Drawing, click one last time to complete the shape.

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Right click and make the shape editable. Add Bezier points to these locations and move them to get the curves shown.

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Add one more Bezier point here and curve the bottom a little more.

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In the Shapes Settings click on Fill color and choose #005CDB. Duplicate the Breast Plate and go to Edit > Flip Horizontal.

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Set these evenly apart as shown and name them Left and Right Breast Plates.

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Step 4 - Hip Plates

Next on a blank part of the canvas set up this template. Start with the two first guidelines shown in red, set the Screen Measuring tool in the red circle and drag new guides out to the measurements shown below.

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Use the Pen Tool again and create this shape.

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Right click and make the shape editable. Add the Bezier points and move them to create the curves shown below.

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In the Shapes Settings add the fill color #005CDB. Duplicate and go to Edit > Flip Horizontal.

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Center them under the Breast Plates and overlap their 6px strokes.

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Place these Hip and Breast Plate shapes in the Middle Section group towards the top.

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Remove the Backpack Layer from the Middle Section group and place it on it's own as shown.

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Step 5 - Shoulder

Let's make the Shoulder parts. With the Rectangle tool make the Shoulder Pin - W: 72px H: 40px Color: #B3B3B3. The Shoulder Plate - W: 44px H: 64px Color: #005CDB. With the Rounded Rectangle make the Rotator - W: 24px H: 80px Color: #B3B3B3 Radius: 4px. Finally choose the Ellipse Tool and hold SHIFT to drag a perfect 52px Circle for the Shoulder Ball (Color: #B3B3B3).

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Choose the Shoulder Plate shape and right click to make it editable. Drag the bottom right Bezier point towards the middle and double click on it to curve it. Lengthen the Bezier handles to get more curve.

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All of the Shoulder part layers will go below the Middle Section group and just above the Backpack layer. Set the Shoulder Pin first and pull a guide along the horizontal center points.

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Line up the Rotator along this same guide as shown.

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Place the Shoulder Ball 1px away from the Rotator and about 6px down from the outside of the Shoulder Pin.

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Last place the Shoulder Plate 1px away from the Rotator and also align it along the horizontal center guide.

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Select these layers and group them as Right Shoulder.

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  • kimti leung says:


  • AJ_X says:

    Hi there, I am relatively new to Pixelmator but I thought I would give this a try. 

    I am stuck on Step 1 (I know! lol), the part where you say “Pull a 244px wide by 190px high rectangle”

    How do you precisely measure out vector shapes? I know how to pull out the guides, but how would I create a 244×190 accurately? Do you use the rulers and just guess when you are near enough or is there a method where you can actually enter the dimensions? Please help

    P.S. – This is the best site on the whole of the interwebs for Pixelmator Tutorials! Keep up the good work.

    • Gamrcobe says:

      No problem, First you may need to reveal the Info bar by going to View > Show Info Bar. You can do the same with the Tool Options bar if it’s not showing. These will appear at the top of the canvas. If you double click on the info bar a hidden options list appears and you can choose what is shown in the Info bar. When you pull a vector shape the x & y dimensions will show up there. The dimensions will also appear right near the pointer if you let go of the shape after dragging a bit and then drag one of the white center handles that appear. Hope this helps, thanks for the compliments!

  • Bbgirl1809 says:

    How do you get the Bezier handles to pop up, I can’t get them to pop up.

  • Massimiliano Giroldi says:

    Hi Jacob,

    for my first try with Pixelmator 2 I found this tutorials and has been a great choice, indeed. 
    I’m already starting to see the other tutorials. Beautiful site. And now bookmarked!

    Of course, I have a couple curiosities:

    1) exists some hidden numeric control for the shapes (width, height, etc)? Sometimes it is a little hard to achieve the pixel perfect number.

    2) Can you give us some tip about how did you achieved the final effects? Did you used textures, filters..?

    Thank you very much.

    • Gamrcobe says:


      Thanks for your compliments!

      1) No you can’t input height and width numerically. That would be a great feature from the info bar or Shape settings panel. Hopefully the Pixelmator Team makes this happen if future updates.

      2) I style with simple gradients. At the end of the tutorial I have a section call Styling with Gradients, it just shows the method, but this will work on all of the parts, try it out!

      The “texture” is just a light grunge texture placed at the top of the layers panel and the blending mode is set to something like Overlay or Soft Light.

      Hope this helps, try different things!

  • AJ Fleming says:

    Wonderful tutorial! I love the final result! I’m curious how I’d get the circular metallic effect you’ve created in the final image there. I’m working on an icon that would use that, but I can’t get it right! Thanks!

    • Thanks man! The metal is just a texture I found to use for the background. We really need a circular motion blur in Pixelmator. Check out Abduzeedo’s Captain America sheild tut for one way of achieving something close.