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© Ugur Akinci
Inkscape is a great vector drawing software with poor documentation. Most people quit using Inkscape after a few tries because the GUI looks different than that of (say) Illustrator. Although I use Illustrator for most of my technical drawings I can’t help but appreciate the amount of functionality packed into Inkscape, which is after all a totally free product that you can download from Inkscape.com.
Here is the first screen that welcomes you when you launch Inkscape:
Maximize the window by pulling on its bottom-right corner and you can get the full workspace, with all tools displaying:
(Click to enlarge images)
As you can see right away, this is not a lightweight vector drawing program at all. It comes loaded with many of the same features that you’ll find in an industry-standard program like Adobe Illustrator. So it’s worth a closer look.
Click and select the Create stars and polygons tool on the toolbar (LEFT sidebar) and draw a star. Shortcut to select that tool is (*), asterisk.
Now select the Select and Transform Objects tool (F1), which looks like an arrow.
Click on the star once and you’ll see scaling handles displayed around your object.
Click and drag on the handles for various types of image manipulation and familiarize yourself with all the possibilities; too many to list here.
Then click on the star once again and see how the handles change into rotation arrows. Again click and drag the handles for various types of image manipulation and familiarize yourself with them.
Another way to rotate the star is by using rotation and flipping buttons on the top tool bar:
If you have multiple objects you can select them both by pressing CTRL key and then clicking on them. When both objects are selected, you can transform them together (scaling, rotating, etc.) by using the same click-and-drag-the-handles technique:
You can also recolor such joint objects by clicking on the COLOR SWATCH down at the bottom of the editing window:
Stroke and Fill
An Inkscape vector object is made up of a STROKE (the border around the object) and a FILL (the inside color of the object), just like in Illustrator.
When you draw an object and then select it, its stroke and fill color are automatically displayed at the bottom of your editing window:
To edit stroke and fill, click on either the stroke or the fill bar. A separate Fill and Stroke PANEL will display on the right (shortcut: Shift + Ctrl + F)
This is where you can edit the color of both the stroke and the fill; edit the type of stroke like you want (straight or dashed); the thickness of the stroke; gradient for fill, etc.
The editing options are so many that you really need to go in there and play around with the various controls to appreciate the power of this panel.
For example, here is how you can edit the BLUR and OPACITY of your vector object:
Click one of the GRADIENT buttons available and then click EDIT to see all the gradient editing options available to you:
Select the STROKE STYLE tab to appreciate all the different stroke styles available to you:
Inkscape is a delight if you need to draw any vector objects for your technical documents. Getting yourself familiar with its powerful tools can only improve your documentation and the market value of your services as a technical writer.