Inkscape – Introduction


Inkscape is a vector drawing program that saves documents to the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. It runs on Windows, Mac (see the Mac OS X section below), and Linux distros.

The open-source application has comparable features to Adobe Illustratror, CorelDraw, and other professional vector-graphics tools. It has been used for many professional projects , and many prefer it to the previously mentioned applications for some jobs.

  • Like many other open-source applications, it is free of charge to download and install.
  • There is also a portable application that runs on Windows. A portable app can be places on a USB or external hard drive and run from any computer with Windows.

User interface

The canvas is surrounded by toolbars eight toolbars that can be hidden and made visible. They contain the tools that you use to create the objects on the canvas that compose the work of art. Objects are shapes, text boxes, and those that you create with drawing tools.

Here are the toolbars:

Command Bar

Inkscape Command Bar
This has basic icons that includes creating a new document, saving the current one, and importing and exporting images.

Snap Controls Bar

Inkscape Snap Controls Bar
This image is on the right side of the canvas. The image shows it rotated horizontally. The toolbar has items to help you snap lines to objects and snap objects to the canvas.

Tool Controls Bar

Inkscape Tool Control Bar
This toolbar has tools to rotate, resize, and make other changes to text boxes, shapes, and other objects.


Inkscape Tool Control Bar
This toolbar has the tools for creating graphics. These include text creation, shapes, and drawing tools.


Inkscape Rulers
This helps you measure your drawings and position them. It runs above and on the left side of the canvas.


Inkscape Scrollbars
These allow you to move the canvas up and down or left and right, so you can see different parts of a large canvas.


Inkscape Palette Toolbar
This has a spectrum of different colors that can be applied to the various objects you place on the canvas.


Inkscape Statusbar
The bars has information about a selected object.


There is another way to access the tools and features of Inkscape – through the nine menus. There is also a Help menu.

File Edit View Layer Object Path Text Filters Extensions

Mac OS X

The instance for Mac computers does not run natively on OS X. It requires an open-source application called XQuartz, that implements the X.Org X Window System.

This system is the that Apple no longer includes with the latest versions of its operating systems. It was discontinued after 10.7.

At this time, team members working on the Mac instance are still switching it to handle Gtk and Glib libraries for OS X. There is an unstable version that runs on OS X.

Inkscape on Mac
Inkscape for Mac requires XQuartz to be installed, unless you are running 10.7 or earlier. Under XQuartz, the Inkscape menu is part of the window, while XQuartz menu items are in the OS X menu bar.