Inkscape for beginners
Create and edit vector graphics (like illustrations, decals and logos) in this Inkscape course for beginners.
In this 1.5 hour intro course we’ll start with the fundamentals:
*Please provide a USB to save your work
First we'll cover some basic digital design items.
Vector images can be converted to raster if needed for publishing etc.
Please note, if you intend to use your vector graphic with the Edge Laser Cutter, you will need to work with RGB colour. For the Vinyl Cutter it doesn't matter.
Vector Image File Formats
EPS Adobe's EPS format (Encapsulated PostScript) is perhaps the most common vector image format. It is the standard interchange format in the print industry. It is widely supported as an export format, but due to the complexity of the full format specification, not all programs that claim to support EPS are able to import all variants of it. Adobe Illustrator and recent versions of CorelDRAW have very good support for reading and writing EPS. Inkscape can only export it.
SVG The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web, the W3C standard vector image format is called SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). Inkscape and recent versions of Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW have good support for reading and writing SVG. Further information on the SVG format may be found on the official SVG website.
PDF Adobe's PDF format (Portable Document Format) is very widely used as a general purpose platform-independent document format. And while it is not exclusively used as such, it is also a very good vector image format. Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is free, but to create or edit PDF files directly you need to pay (third party tools that perform the same task are also available). There are free options that let you save/export as a PDF using the Print option.
AI The native format of Adobe Illustrator is the AI format (Adobe Illustrator Artwork), a modified version of the older EPS format. The AI format is fairly widely supported, but is less available than the EPS format, and most programs that read AI can also read EPS.
DXF Drawing eXchange Format. A CAD format from Autodesk, used by CAD tools from many different vendors. Some programs have difficulty reading DXF files with splines (curves), so the Desktop Edition supports line+spline as well as line only output modes.
There are numerous other vector formats: CDR is the CorelDRAW native format and XAR is the Xara Xtreme native format, to name a couple.
On your computer open up Inkscape from your file/applications menu. It should automatically open a new template;
To check the document size and setup info, go to the File dropdown menu and choose 'Document Properties', change your set up from portrait to landscape for today's exercise;
Let's quickly go over what you will find in each of the drop down menu's;
There are a few different toolbars in Inkscape, we'll go over the default layout quickly.
Command & Snap Bar
Colour Palette & Status Bar
To learn more about these and setting up your preferred interface, refer to the Inkscape manual, we want to get into the more practical side of our workshop now!
The 2 arrows at the top of the Tool Box are your main navigational tools, the first large arrow is how you can select and move items around on your document (artboard).
The second arrow down is how you can edit nodes and curves/straight lines of a path. We will discuss this in more detail later.
Layers are important to keep your work easily editable and to also create a variety of design techniques. Think of layers like old school cell animation, you layer each change of the art to create the animation.
Each layer can contain one o more objects, the final image is made up of all the visible layers stacked on top of each other, but you can turn layers (and the objects housed on them) off and on, you can move layers around to change the order and so forth. You can also create sub-layers.
Let's open our layers using the interface tools we already looked through. The icon should be in your Command Bar, which may be across the top of app or down the side, when you find it click on it to open the layers window down the right side of the interface.
Like layers, you can group or ungroup individual shapes and lines to edit or move objects around. This can come in handy when working on files with lots of objects or design items.
To group and ungroup objects, you can use either the Edit menu or Command Bar functions.
There are a variety of geometric shapes available in Inkscape to use to create designs, these are vector shapes. Choose them from the Tool Box menu. Hold down the Ctrl key to maintain some constraint of the shape when resizing.
Most paths are described internally in Inkscape (and in many other drawing programs) as a series of Bezier curves. It is very useful to understand the basic properties of Bezier curves for drawing and manipulating paths. Bezier curves are defined by four points, two of which are the end points or nodes of the curve. The other two are control points or handles, each paired with one of the end points. The control points have the useful property that a line starting at one end of the curve and ending at the corresponding control point is tangent to the curve at the end point. This enables the smooth joining of multiple Bezier curves to form a path.
With The Bezier curve tool in Inkscape you can draw outlines around bitmap images of create your own shapes and designs. It can take a little practice to get used to, but once you gain an understanding of this you can do a whole of cool stuff.
Once you have created a path you can make the stroke as large as you need via the stroke
Similar to above, you can also change the colour of the stroke or if wanting to have an object/shape that is in colour, you can change the fill. If you want to have just a coloured shape with no outline, turn off the Stroke and vice versa.
Text is pretty straight forward, use the text tool to type any text and adjust like you would in most computer programs (font, size, colour).
We have 2 options for creating our vinyl sticker in Inskcape, we can use the basics we've just learned to make our own basic shape or text for printing on the vinyl cutter with a few minor steps, or we can use the following method to import a bitmap (does everyone remember what a bitmap is?) and learn how to trace our bitmap to create a vector to print.
Please follow along to learn the Trace option, as it's very handy and similar to Adobe Illustrator's option.
Using this option is great but can be very time consuming
There's a few Youtube videos that you can watch to get more ideas on how to make the settings work for you;
So we showed you the trace option and that may seem super easy but once you get into more detailed photos and images you will see it can be a bit more time consuming and a lot more work. So we want to show you a bit more about drawing your own vector shapes (just like hand tracing) with the Pen tool / Bezier Curves tool.
Let's use the same bitmap image we used for our auto trace option, now create a new layer that sits over the top of our image. You may want to lock your image layer so it doesn't move during this process.
Select the Bezier Curve tool and find an easy starting point of your image and click release to make your first node, then start to trace around your image incrementally adding nodes as you go. You have 2 options to curve your paths, if you don't release your click finger when you create a node you will see you can create curves by moving the mouse, once you click off your mouse button it finishes the path, but you can easily adjust later with the 'handles'.
If you just move around your image making the nodes and straight lines, this is also ok as you can go back and adjust all the handles to get your curves, and it's up to you which way you might prefer to work.
We can now save our new vector shape ready for printing on the vinyl cutter, go to the File menu and Save As, choose the name of your sticker and make sure you are saving as a standard SVG file.
We use Illustrator on the vinyl cutter to import our image to print it, Illustrator can import SVG and should have no issues.
We load our vinyl roll on to the bottom of the vinyl cutter where there is a plastic roll holder, we feed the vinyl colour side up into the cutter and align it to the side but also make sure our feed rollers (small rollers that feed the sheet through) are inside the white marks. If they aren't you may get an error that says bad position.
You also need to make sure the size of your print job will not exceed the size of the vinyl roll. When you feed the vinyl into the machine and hit enter, it should auto calculate the width and show on screen. Since we're just making small stickers, we should be fine but always good to check these settings.
We can see on screen a preview of what our sticker will print like and once you are happy with it, hit the print button and away we go!
Inskcape manual is a great resource