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a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 1 of 13

a Quick
Guide to

T his is a guide is for artists or hobbyist who are already familiar with one
vector drawing application and are looking to try Inkscape.
Inkscape Even if this
isn't you, you might still find this guide useful.

It will hopefully be a good quick reference to help

users overcome the hurdle of getting to know a
different application, reveal some of the
differences with other vector drawing applications,
and highlight just a few of Inkscape's lesser known
or more attractive features.

Many simplistic and obvious features aren't

described at all in this guide. For a thorough guide
to all of Inkscape's features, visit

In most cases I only list keyboard shortcuts for

functions, but many of these functions are also
found easily in the menus or on palettes and toolbars.

1. The Inkscape Window
2. Illustrator-
Illustrator-Inkscape Translation Dictionary
3. Working with Paths 10/25/2010
a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 2 of 13

1. Drawing a path
1. Creating a path
2. Finish a path
3. Cancel a path
2. Edit a path
1. Add a node
2. Delete a node
3. Split / break a node
4. Combine / join nodes
5. Continue / append an open path
6. Delete a segment
7. Join nodes with a new segment
8. Change node type
4. Working with objects
1. Selecting objects
2. Selecting an obscured object
3. Resizing & rotating an object
4. Ordering objects
5. Duplicating objects
6. Cloning Objects
5. Working with Groups
1. Grouping & Ungrouping
2. Selecting objects within a group
3. Add objects to a group
6. Working with Clips & Masks
1. Defining a Clip or Mask
2. Clip / Mask multiple objects
3. Edit objects in a clip / mask
4. Add objects to a clip / mask
5. Edit the clipping / masking object
7. Working with Layers
1. Moving objects between layers
8. Working with Gradients
1. Creating a gradient
2. Applying an already defined gradient
3. Position / transform a gradient
4. Reversing a gradient
5. Repeating gradient
6. Asymmetric radial gradient
9. Conclusion and copyright 10/25/2010
a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 3 of 13

The Inkscape Window

Note that the Tool Control Bar will display icons specific to the tool you have

Illustrator-Inkscape Translation Dictionary
For those already familiar with Adobe Illustrator,
Illustrator here's a brief translation of
Illustrator terms and tool names to their Inkscape equivalent.

Illustrator Inkscape

Anchor Node (smooth)

Handle Handle

Anchor (corner) Node (cusp)

Selection Tool ( V ) Selector Tool ( S )

Direct Selection Tool ( A ) Node Tool ( N ) 10/25/2010
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Illustrator Inkscape

Pen Tool ( P ) Bezier Tool ( B )

Pencil Tool ( N ) Freehand Tool ( P )

€ Live Trace € Trace Bitmap

Working with paths

Drawing a path

Paths are drawn using either the Bezier tool or the Freehand tool .
Unless you have a graphics tablet you will most likely always use the Bezier

Creating a path


Laying a path with the Bezier tool involves simply

clicking each spot you want a node to appear. A
single-click creates a sharp node whilst mouse
-drag creates a smooth node.

As you draw Inkscape shows the segments of the line you've laid in
green and the unfinished segment as red. To undo the previous
segment, press Backspace or Delete .

Finish path:


Double-clicking will finish the path with the

unfinished segment (red) whilst pressing Enter
or Right-clicking will end the path and discard Segment finished using
the unfinished segment. Clicking or mouse- double-click

dragging on the starting node will create a

closed path. 10/25/2010
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Cancel path -

Press Escape or Ctrl + Z to cancel the entire

Segment finished using
Enter or Right-

Edit a path

Add a node:

Tool Control:

Double-click or Ctrl + Alt + Click on a

segment to add a node in that spot.

Delete a node:

Tool Control:

You can Ctrl + Alt + Click a node to delete it,

or select the node and press Delete or
Backspace . With either of these options Inkscape Delete attempts to
will modify the handles on the remaining nodes to preserve the shape by
adjusting the adjacent
try and preserve the shape of the path. If you
node handles.
don't want this to happen, press Ctrl + Delete or
Ctrl + Backspace instead.

Ctrl + Delete does not

preserve the shape.

Split / break node:

Tool Control:

Select the node and press Shift + B to split or

break it into two nodes.

It may not be obvious

you've split a node until
you move one. 10/25/2010
a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 6 of 13

Combine / join nodes:

Tool Control:

Select two end nodes and press Shift + J to

combine them into one node.

Continue / append an open path:


Select the path and start drawing from one of the

end nodes with the Pen Tool.

Delete a segment:

Tool Control:

Select the segment, or the two nodes at either end

of the segment, and press the button to delete

Join nodes with a new segment:

Tool Control:

Select the two end nodes and press the button

to create a segment between them.

Change node type:

Tool Control: , ,

Press Shift + C to make a cusp node. Press

Shift + S to make a smooth node. Press
Ctrl + Delete to make a smooth node with
symmetrical handle lengths. Alternatively you can A smooth node is
Ctrl + Click the node to toggle through each indicated by a square
node type. 10/25/2010
a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 7 of 13

whilst a cusp node uses a

Working with Objects diamond.

For clarification, an object is a general term to describe all shapes that make
up a drawing. Text, shapes, paths, anything drawn, is an object. This
includes groups of objects.

Selecting objects:


Unlike applications like Adobe Illustrator and

some other graphics applications, Inkscape does
not provide a view of how all your objects are
stacked in a drawing. You can only select objects from within the canvas
area with the Selector tool.

Selecting an obscured object:


Sometimes you can't select an object because

another object is above it. You can cycle through
the selection of objects by pressing Tab or you
can Alt + Click to cycle through selecting just the objects below the
mouse cursor.

Resizing & rotating an object:


Select an object to show its transform handles.

Click the object again to toggle rotation
handles for the object.

Ordering Objects:

Tool: 10/25/2010
a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 8 of 13

To raise or lower an objects order press Page Up or Page Down

respectively. To raise or lower an object to the very top or very bottom
press Home or End respectively.

Duplicating Objects:


Press Ctrl + D to duplicate an object. This is

similar to copying and pasting an object except
it's position is the same as the original.

Cloning Objects:


To clone a object press Alt + D . Cloning is

similar to duplicating except the clone maintains a
link to the original so when you edit the original
object the changes will be reflected in clone/s
also. To select the original object whilst a clone is
selected press Shift + D . You can unlink a clone
from the original by pressing Shift + Alt + D whilst the clone is

Working with Groups

Groups are a way of grouping multiple objects into a new object that can be
treated the same as a regular object. Even after grouping, individual objects
within the group can still be edited.

Grouping & Ungrouping:


To group multiple objects press Ctrl + G and

press Ctrl + U to ungroup.

Selecting objects within a group:

Tool: 10/25/2010
a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 9 of 13

To select an object within a group Ctrl + Click .

Use Ctrl + Alt + Click to select obscured
objects in a group. This is true for clips and
masks as well. Alternatively, you can enter a
group by pressing Ctrl + Enter or double-clicking and then select
the objects as normal. To break out of the group, press
Ctrl + Backspace or select an object outside of the group.

Add objects to a group:


Press Ctrl + Enter or double-click to enter

the group then draw or paste the new object to

Working with Clips & Masks

Clips and Masks are used to restrict what parts of an
object are visible. The shape of the object used as a
clip defines the area that is visible whilst the
transparency or lightness of an object used as a mask
determines the area that is visible.

Defining a Clip or Mask:


Select two object and make sure the top most

object is the object you want to use as the
clip/mask. Select Set for either Clip or Mask
under the Object menu.

Clip / Mask multiple objects:


If you select three objects and set a clip / mask where the top object is
used as the clipping / masking object you'll end up with two separate 10/25/2010
a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 10 of 13

clipped / masked objects. If you want to clip /

mask multiple object, group the objects first.

Edit objects in a clip / mask:


Double-click a clip / mask to enter it and you

will then be able to select and edit the objects in
it. If you are clipping / masking a group you will
also be able to use Ctrl + Enter .

Add objects to a clip / mask:


You will only be able to add objects to a clip /

mask if you are clipping / masking a group.
Double-click or Ctrl + Enter to enter the
clipped / masked group then draw or paste the
new object to include.

Edit the clipping / masking object:


To edit a clipping or masking object you will need

to release the mask ( Object > Clip or Mask >
Release ). The only way to edit a clipping /
masking object without releasing it is if the
clipping / masking object is a cloned object and
you edit the original. 10/25/2010
a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 11 of 13

Working with Layers

Layers work much the same as layers on other applications and the can be re
-ordered, visibility toggled and locked from editing using the Layers palette
or the Layer Information in the Status Bar.

Moving objects between layers:


To move an object to the layer above or below press Shift + Page Up

or Shift + Page Down respectively.

Working with Gradients

Creating a gradient:


Defining a gradient is pretty straight forward.

Simply select an object, use the Gradient Tool to
lay a new gradient then click the Edit button on
the Tool Control bar to open the Gradient Editor
where you can edit the gradient.

Applying an already defined gradient:


Inkscape encourages you to re-use the same

gradient on multiple objects. To apply a gradient
already used by another object, select the object then the Gradient Tool
and select the gradient from the drop-down list on the Tool Control
bar. Alternative, copy an object that uses the gradient ( Ctrl + C ) then
paste the style on the target object ( Ctrl + Shift + Z ), but note this
will copy all styles associated with the source object including the
position of the gradient.

Note: When you edit a gradient the changes will be reflected in all objects
that use it. You can duplicate a gradient to make subtle changes for a
specific object. 10/25/2010
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Position / transform a gradient:

Tool: or

Using either the Gradient Tool or the Node Tool

you can easily position and transform a linear and
radial gradient by grabbing its handles on the
Inkscape canvas.

Reversing a gradient:


Press Shift + R to reverse a gradient. Note that

if the gradient is used on other objects it will be
duplicated so it doesn't affect those objects.

Repeating gradient:

On the Fill and Stroke palette, select the repeat

mode (reflected or direct) for the gradient on the
selected object from the drop-down list.

Asymmetric radial gradient:

Tool: or

You can modify the centre position of a radial

gradient to make it asymmetric by Shift +
drag the centre handle.

Conclusion and Copyright

I hope you found this this guide useful.

Note that the images of the ladies were digitally inked and coloured by
Inkscape based off pencils provided by King
myself using Inkscape, -Cheetah
( and renecordova
( respectively.


You can leave comments about this guide at or at

DeviantArt. 10/25/2010
a Quick Guide to Inkscape Page 13 of 13 10/25/2010