Over the last few months I’ve been experimenting with approaches to create illustrations in digital and I’ve been sharing these. I’ve also been keen to work out how to take and improve on hand drawn sketches and ideas and bring them into digital too. Key to this has been learning how to use Inkscape or at least to get by with it and find out what it can do. This is the first in a series of posts which I’m hoping will help others to pick up the same techniques I have and bring their own creations to life.

Firstly anyone wishing to follow this will need to get their hands on Inkscape, this isn’t a problem as it it open source (i.e. free) and should be able to work across a range of platforms. In order to find out more and download it have a look at https://inkscape.org

Also if you want to find out more and can’t wait for me to write my posts there’s the Inkscape manuals:

Inkscape Manuals

There’s also the Inkscape Wiki:

Inkscape Wiki

What I want to do for the first few posts is get some familiarity with the drawing an processing functions. To start we need a canvas to draw on.

File > Drawing Properties

These options come up and there’s a whole load if you want to play. For now just set the page size to A4 and set to landscape to follow what I’m doing.


Now we have the blank canvas to work on.


On the left is a toolbar like this will all kind of useful stuff.


But what does it all mean and do? I’ve found out for you…

Select and Transform

selects objects either with a single click or a window select and has some re-shaping and transforming functions.

Edit Paths by Node

Where objects are defined with nodes, use this to move / edit the nodes and re-shape (nodes are square grab points that appear on selection of objects).

Tweak Object by Sculpting or Shaping

Seems to move objects about in different kind of ways, when using this tool it has options that appear in the upper toolbar.

Zoom in and Out

Zooms in and zooms out.

Measurement Tool

Measures objects or distances in pixels.

Create Shapes Tools

These are what the shapes tools do – for different colours, select the colour before applying the shape. Create spiral tool does exactly that.


Draw Freehand / Calligraphic

Examples of the draw freehand and italic tools.


Draw Curves and Lines

This tool is really useful and helpful, it can help the artist create nice straight lines easily and geometric curves without much hassle. It also creates more organic curves really easily. It’s hard to explain in words, use this tool at the top to switch between the different lines.


Have a play and see what they all do to find the types of lines needed. A quick doodle from me created this.


Text Tool

Self explanatory.

Spray Object

Kind of weird to get your head around but it sprays the selected object.


Erase Tool

Rubs out whatever is in the way on the selected layer.



Select a colour and fill an area with he colour. Any gaps in line sof the object and the colour ‘leaks’.

Gradient Tool

Creates gradients like these and any others the artist might want to think up.


Mesh Tool

The mesh tool is a bit of a complicated feature that’s going to need a post of it’s own, in essence it’s a way of creating a ‘virtual’ looking image of a real object. Watch out for the Inkscape post on this.

Dropper Tool

Selects colours from an image.

Create Diagram Connectors

Used mainly in creating flow charts, this feature connects together different elements of a flowchart.

So that’s the start and literally it is just the start, the basics of how to get by in Inkscape. If you’re interested have a play, try some things out and let me know how things go, there’s more on this to come but if there is something that is unclear or you need to do then it could form the basis of a new post.

Happy Drawing!

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5 thoughts on “Digital Art with Inkscape – How Inkscape Works

  1. Oh YES! When my schedule empties out a bit I’ll definitely be diving back into Inkscape with your guide in my hand! Their manual is great, but it’s HUGE and way more technical than I need, so these posts are super-useful. Thanks! 😀


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