Inkscape is a vector graphics application that is a free and open-source alternative to Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. It has many of the same features, but it is available for more operating systems.
Vector graphics are drawings that can scale without losing their quality and becoming distorted. They are often used to create logos and artwork that will be used in both print and digital publications.
Text is often vector art. This includes characters in a word processing documents as well as graphics programs.
It is different from raster graphics, which are composed of pixels, and they will become distorted when their sizes are changed. Images and most artwork found on Websites are raster graphics.
There are four sections of controls that surround the canvas where the artwork is created and placed. Click the desired one to jump to that section on the page:
For the Windows version InkScape and most Linux versions there are 10 menus. Some Linux distros place these items in the menubar at the top of the screen. The Mac version has 11 items in the menubar.
Through these items, users can access all the tools, features, and dialog boxes in InkScape to create designs and documents. The menu items are as follows:
- InkScape (Mac only): This menu has the Preferences item that launches the Preferences dialog. The Preferences item is in the Edit menu in the versions of InkScape that run on other operating systems.
- File: This menu is where users can create new documents, save them, and print them. Importing images and exporting projects to PNG Image file are also in the menu.
- Edit: The Edit menu has a variety of items , such as cut, copy, and paste; finding text and objects; and cloning and duplicating documents.
- View: This has different view modes. It allows the user to change the canvas orientation and launching dialogs for swatches and messages.
- Layer: Artwork and graphics can be created with different layers. This menu has different settings and controls for those layers.
- Object: The menu has various items to modify, group, and ungroup objects. Objects are lines, text, shapes – any item that can be placed on the canvas.
- Path: A path is a sequence of straight line segments and/or Bezier curves which, as any other Inkscape object, may have arbitrary fill and stroke properties. This menu has different items to modify these paths.
- Text: The menu has different items to modify and edit text. It also has a check spelling item.
- Filters: This menu has access to different filters and dialogs with filters.
- Extensions: This has a variety of settings for text, typography, color, images, and many other items.
- Help: This has links to the Inkscape Manual, frequently asked questions, tutorials, and bug reporting.
There are two toolbars that appear by default on the right side of the canvas window. They are Commands Bar and Snap Controls Bar.
These bars will appear by default unless you hide them. To hide them, click the View menu. Highlight the Show/Hide sub-menu. Then click the items, so the checks are removed from the items. The corresponding toolbars will disappear.
The Commands Bar has items from the several of the menus, including File, Edit, and Layer. The items include the following:
- Create new document
- Export this document
- Group and Ungroup
- View and select font family
- Align and distribute objects
There are more than 25 items in the toolbar that a majority of users need quick-access to.
Snap Controls Bar
The Snap Controls Bar toolbar has various controls for controlling how different objects are moved on the canvas. The items include:
- Enable snapping
- Snap bounding boxes
- Snap to path intersections
- Snap text anchors and baselines
- Snap to grids
The toolbox that appears on the left side of the canvas has several icons for various drawing tools.
- Select and transform objects
- Edit paths by nodes
- Create 3D boxes
- Create circles, ellipses, and arcs
- Spray objects by sculpting or painting
There are 21 icons altogether. Simply click the desired one to select it and use it. The toolbox provides quick-access to a variety of tools, so the user can easily add to and update a canvas and the piece that is being worked on.
Toolbox does not contain all the available tools. More tools are available in the menus. For example, at the bottom of the Edit menu (for Mac), there is an Emojis and Symbols item that launches a dialog with symbols and emojis.
The toolbox is the same across operating systems. However, menus may differ from operating system to operating system.
Below the canvas are two bars. One is a color palette. The other is Statusbar.
This bar shows an array of colored squares. Click the desired object or text on the canvas. Then click the desired color. There is an arrow to the right of the colors. Click it to see a list of different palettes.
This bar has items to lock the current layer and make it visible and invisible. It also has information about the selected object and information about the canvas.
Inkscape works on several different operating systems, Windows, Mac, and most Linux distros.
- For Windows there is a version that can be installed. There also is a portable version that can be put on a USB drive or other external drive and taken from computer to computer.
- The Mac version is designed for Intel Macs.
- Linux users can choose from multiple versions. The version to download and install is Flatpak. AppImage is like the portable version in Windows. It can be stored on an external drive and taken from computer to computer. Some distros come with it preinstalled. Most users also can install it through the software manager. It works on Intel/AMD and ARM chips.