By Stephen Bucaro
Inkscape is a free Open Source vector graphics illustration application that
works similar to Adobe Illustrator. Unlike a raster graphics drawing
application, a vector graphics editor allows you to use your mouse to edit your
image by selecting and dragging points on the geometrical objects in the image.
Inkscape supports features like shapes, paths, text, text-on-path, flowed
text, transforms, layers, gradients, gaussian blur, alpha blending, bitmap
tracing, and much more. It be used for creating images such as icons, flags,
logos, maps, diagrams, etc., and through use of Gaussian blur, its capable of
producing images of near photographic quality.
Inkscape is an Open Source application that comes in versions for Microsoft
Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and other operating systems. It can be downloaded
for free from the Inkscape website.
In this article you'll learn your way around the Inkscape interface,
including its toolbars and menus. You'll learn how to zoom and pan to navigate
your drawing canvas. And you'll learn how to save and open your drawing files.
Inkscape Main Window
Shown above is the Inkscape main window. At the top of the window is the main
menu bar, which contains the usual File, Edit, and View menus,
along with menus specific to vector drawing, including Layer, Object, Path,
Text, and Effects. The Help menu contains several very good tutorials.
Below the main menu bar is the Command Bar. It provides many functions
similar to the main menu bar, except in a button format. Below the Command
Bar is the Tool Control Bar which provides you with commands related
to the currently selected tool in the toolbox.
On the left side of the main window is the Toolbox. The Toolbox
contains buttons that let you access the vector drawing tools provided. At the
top of the Toolbox is the Select Tool which is used to select areas and
objects. Below that is the Node/Handle tool, which is used to select and
control nodes and handles.
The Toolbox also contains icons to draw various shapes, lines, and curves,
along with tools to create calligraphic lines, text, and gradients. The best way
to learn these tools is to experiment with them.
At the bottom of the window is the Palette. The Palette provides a way
to change an object's fill colour or stroke color. Below the Palette is the
Bottom Toolbar which contains controls to modify the Fill and
Stroke, select the Layer, set the Zoom, and it contains a
Status area that provides information and help related to your current
In the center of the window is the drawing area, which displays the Page Border.