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Pain-Free Path Editing

Penpal lets you edit paths in ways that After Effects doesn’t.  It has over 40 path-editing tools that are missing from Adobe After Effects.  It’s the vector editor that is missing from After Effects.

Penpal brings bezier power and precision into AE, so that your workflow is free from excessive planning and difficult round-trips to Illustrator.



Here’s just a few of the capabilities Penpal brings to AE:

  • Flip paths horizontally or vertically
  • Break a path into two separate paths
  • Distribute and align points within a shape
  • Snap selected points to pixels
  • Simplify paths with too many points
  • Reverse the direction of points along a path
  • Mirror points around an axis to create perfectly symmetrical shapes
  • Join two separate paths into one
  • Quickly make a broken tangent smooth again



Switch between Penpal’s Spaces, and you can work on paths that are transformed by groups, rotation and parenting as if they were still in their original state – with all of Penpal’s functions working in the right-way-up orientation.

You can treat shape layers as if they were precomps, but keep all the Path properties right there in your timeline.


Version 2 of Penpal brings a huge boost in interactivity with a live, responsive UI panel: Drag elements around in the canvas. Option-drag to smooth or break tangents. Hold Shift to constrain to axes. Enable various levels of snapping.

This UI is based on the one you already know from Ae and other Adobe apps, so it feels familiar from the moment you fire it up. Users of v1 can now work in Penpal more intuitively, more of the time.

And Penpal still goes beyond Adobe standards by letting you select tangents as if they were points. That allows you to drag two or more tangents at the same time, and do things like copy one tangent and paste it to another.

After Effects has always lagged far behind Adobe Illustrator when it comes to editing bezier paths. This lack of love for shape layers forces us into extreme preparation, awkward hacks and flow-breaking workarounds .

We know folks who don’t use Illustrator at all, and design everything from scratch in AE, thanks to Penpal. We’re not saying that Penpal can do everything Illustrator can (though it can do some things Illustrator can’t). But with Penpal in your workspace, you’ll need Illustrator a lot less. Perhaps not at all.

How does it work?

Penpal utilises HTML wizardry to display a representation of your paths in it’s panel. Load paths from selected layers into Penpal by clicking the reload button at the top-left, or double-clicking anywhere in the canvas space below.

It’s here that you can select the elements you want to work with by either dragging a marquee over them, or shift-clicking on them one-by-one. You can select whole paths, and the individual points and tangents that construct those paths. Selected points and tangents are indicated with a filled icon just like you’re used to from Adobe applications, while unselected ones are stroked and empty.

Click on any of the three tabs at the top of the panel to see Penpal’s function buttons that are associated with that element – paths, points and tangents. As you do so Penpal also highlights that element blue, so you always know what you’re doing with just a quick glance.

Learn more

The official Penpal Training Series on YouTube will teach you the fundamentals in bite-sized chunks. The Penpal User Guide is the most thorough way to learn everything Penpal can do.

Penpal is localized for Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Trial mode

Penpal has a free trial mode which will only load paths with 10 points or less, and functions for 10 days. If you purchase a license, you can enter the license code and use Penpal without restriction.

After Effects 2024, 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, CC 2019, CC 2018

1.5.0 –  Nov 11, 2022

– “Points: Mirror Path on axis” function buttons
– “Tangents: Move” function buttons
– “Points: Snap” button accepts ALT modifier key to also snap tangents.
– “Points: Move” button accepts ALT modifier key to leave tangents in place.
– Toggle button in Preferences to display tangent coordinates as absolute or relative.Changed:
– “Points: Break” function now also works with only one point selected.
– “Points: Toggle paths open/closed at selected points” only opens closed paths with 2 points selected, and does not alter points when closing open paths.
– Selected paths are now thicker in Points and Tangents tabs UI.
– Little UI arrows for dropdowns are disabled.Fixed:
– “Points: Snap” no longer zeros tangents if no points are selected.
– Panel no longer listens to keystrokes it doesn’t use (re-enabling various other keyboard shortcuts).

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