- What is Inkscape?
- Learn how to use the software
- What image file types can I import and export
- How can I design my own illustrations
time Time estimation: 120 minutes
What is Inkscape?
Inkscape is professional quality vector graphics software which runs on Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux. It is used by design professionals and hobbyists worldwide, for creating a wide variety of graphics such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, maps and web graphics. Inkscape uses the W3C open standard SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) as its native format, and is free and open-source software. During this training we will use Inkscape 0.92 on Windows. To download the most recent version, browse to the Inkscape Download page. For Windows 10 S: the Inkscape app is also available in the Microsoft Store.
External training material
- Online Inkscape tutorials.
- Nick Saporito Inkscape tutorials for beginners
- Nick Saporito Inkscape intermediate/advanced tutorials
Inkscape is a single-window program. Drawing tools are on the left hand side, option docks are on the right. In the central window, you have the drawing area with default an A4 page as document layout. To select another format for e.g. posters, go to File - Document Properties. Next to the document size, you can adjust the background colour (default: transparant).
You can import scalable vector graphic files (.svg) and also GraphPad Prism graphs (.emf or .pdf format). Inkscape is not used for editing images like GIMP. If you import bitmap images, note that they are not scalable like vector objects!
Drawing lines and objects
You can draw a line with the Draw Bezier tool. You can make your own shape or just draw a line or path. On top of your drawing area you can select the Mode: Regular Bezier curves, Spiro paths, straight line segments and paraxial line segments. When selecting the straight line mode, you can hold the Ctrl button to make your line snap every 15 degrees around your first/previous point. You can draw shapes by using the Rectangle tool, Ellipse tool and the Create Stars and Polygons tool. On top of the drawing area you can specify your polygon and star properties, size and lock aspect ration. Here is the Crtl key useful as well for creating squares, circles or specify the position of your object. When you have an object (polygon or others) you can select a color for the stroke and inside of the object. Selecting an object using the Selection tool will give you more options on top of the view area. You have the option to rotate, flip, change dimensions and XY position (in different units). You can change the position of the selected object compared to others (move up/down).
A path consist of lines and nodes. These lines can be straight or curved and you can make an object using paths ( closed path). When in Path mode you have several options; add or remove a node, joining or breaking nodes apart and changing the node properties. You can also change the segment (line between nodes) properties with the options on top of the screen. You can convert an object into a path to gain more flexibility by selecting the object and go to Path – Object to path. Afterwards you can use the object tool or the path tool to manipulate the object.
Fill and stroke
Paths, lines and objects can be given a plain color, patterns, gradient color or left blank/transparent. You can also configure the stroke style and color. Click Object – Fill and Stroke to see all the options. Paths/lines can be transformed into arrows using the Stroke style option Markers.
At the left there is also a Text tool available. With this tool you can create and change text, it’s colour, font, style and size. After entering text, you’re able to manipulate it like an object. You can also attach text into a frame by selecting both objects and click on Text – Flow into Frame. You can also align text to a path. Select both text and path and click Text – Put on Path. Once the text in aligned to the path it stays adaptable and can be removed from the path; Text - Remove from Path. Text is an object at first. When you select Path - Object to path you can modify your text like any other object that is converted into a path.
Grouping, aligning and arranging object/paths
To group several object you must select them all (hold Shift) and select Object – Group. To unite several paths you must select Path – Combine. Both options are the same and allow you to manipulate objects/paths as one. Both actions can be reversed (Ungroup / Break Apart). Several object must be aligned before you group them, think of text inside a box. To display the options, go to Object - Align and Distribute. When multiple objects are selected, you can align the top, bottom, left and right edges of the objects. Aligning on the central axes is also possible, this in both horizontal as vertical direction. The aligned objects always need an anchor, this can be changed in the box on top of the toolbox (Relative to:). This anchor can be an object (first, last, smallest or biggest) or the page, a selection or the complete drawing. Distributing objects works in a similar way, but manages the space between objects. For paths you can only align the nodes. Aligning or distributing objects allows you to manipulate the X and Y position of your objects. There is also a virtual Z axis. When you have multiple objects with different colours, you can move the one above the other. Every new object you draw will be on top of all the rest. To raise an object one step or to the top, you can use the buttons on top of your screen. The same can be done to lower an object one step or to the bottom.
Path Effects and operations
When you want to distribute/multiply an object along a guideline, there is a tool called Path Effects. First draw and select the object or group of objects and past it in the clipboard (Ctrl + C). Draw or select your path (guideline) and select Path – Path Effects. Click on the ‘+’ sign and select the effect Pattern Along Path. In the new box on the right: select ‘Repeated’ on the option Pattern copies. Now click on ‘Paste path’ to paste the object you want to multiply. Note that only the shape is pasted, not the color. When adjusting the color, it will affect the entire path. To copy the colour, use Crtl+C again on your original, select your path of objects and go to Edit - Paste Style - Paste Style. There are also standard patterns to distribute along a path. When clicking on the ‘+’ sign to add an effect, select ‘Gears’ or ‘Hatches (rough)’. Each of these effects have their own options to create an effect and to adjust the pattern. When it comes to paths, you can do much more than combining them. When you want to cut one shape out of another shape, you can use the options in the Path menu; Union, Difference, Intersection, Exclusion, Division and Cut Path.
To make a diagram with objects (circles, rectangles, stars, etc.) connected by lines, there is the Diagram connector tool. First you must draw and align the objects to create your diagram. Then select the Diagram connector tool. Every object can be selected by clicking in the white box in the middle of the object. Once connected the lines will follow the object if you move it to another place. The lines can be used as a path, therefore you can also modify them to e.g. dashed lines, arrows, etc.
hands_on Hands-on: Exercise 1
hands_on Hands-on: Exercise 2
hands_on Hands-on: Exercise 3