2D-drawing software

Inkscape

120 MIN

What is inkscape?

In this tutorial you'll learn how to work with inkscape. Inkscape is an open source software that allows you to create drawings on a computer. Inkscape is a vector graphic editor. The drawings created with inkscape can be used to send to a laser cutter or a vinyl cutter.

Some examples

Some examples

Inkscape can be used to draw logo's, graphic design, files to laser cut,...

Software inkscape

Download the software

Inkscape is an open source software to draw vectors.
Click here to download inkscape.  

Getting started

Inkscape - getting started (1/4)

Vector graphic editor

Vector graphics

inkscape is a drawing software that uses vector graphics. A vector graphic editor will generate images that are a mathematical representation of a shape. This means that the software describes a drawing as a set of lines and curves (called path). Each piece of the path has a start and end point. Each of the start and end points has a defined x and y position.
A raster image on the other hand describes an image as a set of pixels. vectorraster

Vector file vs bitmap image

At first glance there is not a big difference between a vector and an bitmap image (sometimes called raster image). When zooming in, you'll notice the bitmap image consist of a bunch of squares(pixels).
On the other hand a vector file can be scaled and will stay smooth. vectorraster

Path

The color of a vector can easily be changed. It is possible to show and edit the path of a vector file. These paths are exactly what we need if we want to vinyl of laser cut something, because the cutting machines will be able to follow these paths and thus use them as cutting lines.

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File formats

A couple of common vector formats are .SVG, .AI, .EPS and .PDF. Typical file formats for raster files are JPEG, .PNG, .TIF and .GIF vectorraster

Navigation

Zoom in and out

There are a few ways to zoom in and out.

  • Using the plus and minus key on our keyboard.
  • To zoom, hold the Ctrl key on you keyboard while using the scroll wheel on your mouse.
  • Manually enter the zoom percentage on the bottom right of the screen.
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Pan around

There are two possible ways to pan around.

  • Click and drag the mouse wheel button, this method allows you to pan in each direction.
  • Scroll vertically by scrolling the mouse wheel up and down.
  • Scroll horizontally by holding the shift key while scrolling the mouse wheel.
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Document properties

Document properties ...

The visible page is by default the size of an A4 page. When the page size needs to be a different size or when the default measuring unit needs to be changed, click "page > document properties". The document properties window will pop-up.

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Change the unit

In the document properties you can adapt the default unit to work with. Change the default units to mm. preferenceslaser

Change the page size

A good practice is to set the size of the page equal to the size of the material used, this way you know in advance if the design that you made will fit within the material that you are using. preferenceslaser

paper size laser cut and vinyl

  • Custom size for Full spectrum laser cutter
    units: in
    Width: 20
    Height: 12
  • Custom size for the small sheet of the brother ScanNCut vinyl cutter
    units: mm
    Width: 300
    Height: 300
  • Custom size for the large sheet of the brother ScanNCut vinyl cutter
    units: mm
    Width: 300
    Height: 600

Generating shapes

Inkscape - generating shapes (2/4)

Rectangle

Draw rectangle

Start by drawing a rectangle. Select the rectangle tool from the toolbox on the left of the screen.
Draw a rectangle on the work surface. click the left mouse button and drag it. Release the mouse when the rectangle has the needed size.
As long as the rectangle tool is activated you can keep on drawing additional rectangles.

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Interface rectangle

Whenever a specific tool is selected from the toolbox, two parts of the interface will always change. Accordingly the first one being the mouse cursor now showing us that we can draw rectangles and the second one is the tool control bar on the top of the screen.

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Control points

There are a few control points on the shape that can be used to change the form.
Use the square shape control points to resize the rectangle.
Use the circle shaped ones to run over the corners.

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Tool control bar

While resizing the rectangle you might notice that the values in the tool control bar change accordingly.
In the tool control bar there is a value for the width and the height and one for the round over. So whenever you want to design a rectangle with specific dimensions you can enter these here. These values will be the exact dimensions when we have cut our shape on the laser or vinyl cutter.

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Tool control bar width and height

To change the width and height, type the values is the tool control bar. In our example, the values are set to millimeters, so we have a rectangle that is 100 millimeters wide by 80 millimeters high.

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Tool control bar round over

The Rx and Ry value describe the round-over radius. In this case the round-over is 20 mm.

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Tool control bar reset corners

The icon on the most right of the two control box is a reset button, it will make the corners of our rectangle sharp again

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Circle

Draw circle

Select the circle shaped icon in the toolbar on the left. then click your left mouse button somewhere on the canvas and drag it until you have an ellipse with the desired shape.

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Control points

Use the square shaped handles to change the shape of the ellipse. Use the round ones to adjust the start and ending point of the angle. Create open ellipses that look like pac-man or pizza slices. Note that each tool is going to remember the last settings used, so if the circle looked like pac-man the next will look like packman too.

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toolcontrol bar

In the control box the two values for the start and ending angle of the ellipse can be manually entered.
with the two buttons in the top bar a closed segment or an open arc can be selected.
The most right icon is the reset button which will make sure that your shape is a closed ellipse again

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Creating a perfect round circle

Create a new circle. Hold the control key while drawing the circle.

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Changing the size of the circle


To change the with and height of the circle. Press the select tool in the left bar (a black arrow). In the selection bar (upper bar) you can change the values for the width and the height.
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Star and polygon

Draw star

click the star and polygons menu on the left. Left click and drag to generate the shape

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Change parameters

Once the star or polygon is drawn you can change the parameters in the top bar. From left to right:

  • Select the polygon or star icon to change the figures to a polygon or a star
  • change the amount of corners
  • Change the spoke ratio
  • round the tips of the star
  • randomize the figure


to draw a triangle, draw a star/polygon, select the polygon button and decrease the amount of corners to 3.

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Text

Write text

press the text object button on the left of the screen. Click somewhere on the canvas and start typing.

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Change font and size

In the object box the type and size of the font can be changed.

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Color

Inkscape - Color (3/4)

Fill and stroke palette

Open fill and stroke palette

Select or draw a figure. Select a color from the color palette on the bottom. For each object you have the option to select a fill color and a stroke color.
Double click the fill and stroke box on the bottom left of the screen and then the fill and Stroke menu will pop up.

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Fill, stroke and stroke style

there are three different tabs.

  • the first one allows us to set up the color for the fill of our shape.
  • The second one lets us choose the color for the strokes.
  • In the last one we can find some additional settings for the stroke.
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RGB colors

In the menu we can use the RGB sliders to generate whatever color we want. RGB stands for "Red, Green and Blue". Each of these 3 colors can have a value variating from 0 to 255. Mix these 3 colors to generate a brought range of colors.
The A stands for alpha, it descripes the transparancy and can variate from 0 (transparant) to 255 (fully opaque).

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Laser cut

Laser cut vs engrave vs raster

Using different colors in our design is especially handy when we are designing something for a laser cutter. There are three basic operations that we can do with our laser cutter.

  • Cut out lines. The laser cuts out the material.
  • Engrave lines. The laser power is less, so the laser cuts only half through the material. This way a line drawing can be made on top of the surface.
  • Raster the surface. The laser cutter will color in a surface with half power. The laser cutter moves from left to right to color in the surface, this is a slow process.
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Setup fill and stroke settings for cutting

A different stroke color is needed for each operation. In theory it doesn't really matter which specific color is chosen but it's easier to always pick the same ones for the same operations.
To cut out a form:

  • Go to the second tab. To set the stroke color to red , slide the red slider to the maximum value of 255. Set the green and blue values to zero. The fourth slider, the alpha slider, needs to have the maximum value of 255.
  • Go to the fill tab and turn of the fill by clicking the "x"-icon
  • The blur and opacity values should stay at their defaults. The default setting of the blur is 0. The default setting of the opacity is 100.
  • Go to the third tab. In this tab the width of the stroke can be changed. Change the value to 0.2mm.
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Setup fill and stroke settings for engraving


To engrave a form, this means to draw the outer lines of the form on the material:

  • Go to the second tab, To set the stroke color to blue. Slide the red and green slider to 0. Set the blue value to 255. The alpha slider is set to a value of 255.
  • Go to the fill tab and turn of the fill. by clicking the "x"-icon
  • The blur and opacity values should stay at their defaults. The default setting of the blur is 0, for the opacity this value is 100.
  • Go to the third tab. Change the width to 0.2mm.
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Setup fill and stroke settings for rastering


To raster a form, this means to color in the surface of the form:

  • Go to the first tab, the fill tab and set the color to R:0 G:0 and B:0 to make it entirely black.
  • Go to the second tab, turn of the stroke by clicking the "x"-icon
  • The blur and opacity values should stay at their defaults. The default setting of the blur is 0, for the opacity this value is 100.
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Combine and allign shapes

Inkscape - Comboshapes (4/4)

Draw the gingerbread man

Draw the head and the body

Start by drawing a circle for the head and draw a rounded rectangle for the body.
To cut out the form, set the stroke paint color to red and turn off the fill color, as seen in "Setup fill and stroke settings for cutting".

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Align and distribute tool

Use the align and distribute tool to position the head exactly in the middle of the body.
Open the menu by clicking the align and distribute icon on the top of the screen. A second way to open the menu is by clicking the object tab and than click 'allign and distribute'.
Select the three objects by holding the shift key. Choose how to align the two shapes. In this case we want to Center them on the vertical axis, the two shapes will relocate automatically

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Move object horizontally or vertically

Move up the head by selecting it and dragging it up. Meanwhile, hold the control key on your keyboard. This will limit the movement to only a vertical or horizontal motion. The head will stay in the middle of the body while moving it up.

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Boolean operation

The red lines will be cut by the laser cutter. When looking at the design, notice that right now we will end with with five separate pieces instead of continuous piece.
To solve this use a boolean operation. Select the three shapes go to the path menu and select Union.
This boolean operation will delete all the overlapping parts in our design thus leave us with one single control line.

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Rotate tool

Draw the first arm, which is again a rectangle. Rotate the arm.

  • Select the object
  • Use the straight arrows to resize the object
  • Click the object again, the arrows will become curved. Use the curved arrows in order to rotate the object
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Duplicate object

Duplicate the first arm to generate the second one.

  • Press control D
  • or go to edit and then select duplicate

This will generate a copy of the shape and put it on top of itself. Drag it to another position.

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Flip object

Flip the object horizontally using the flip-icon in the tool control bar. in the two control box.
Once the second arm is in the correct place use the Union operation again to delete the overlap.

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Finish the gingerbread man for laser cutting.

Draw the legs of the gingerbread man and union them. Draw some eyes, mouth and buttons.
Change the stroke color of the buttons and mouth to blue to engrave them. Change the fill of the eyes to black to engrave them.

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Rescaling.

while designing the figure, we didn't pay any attention on how big it would end up we can easily adjust this afterwards we just have to drag and

  • Select everything the design
  • Press the lock icon on the top of the screen to lock the proportions.
  • Enter the dimension for the width or the height to resize the figure.
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