Join Mike Rankin for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding shapes and paths, part of Inkscape Essential Training.
- Inkscape has dedicated tools to help you draw things like rectangles, ellipses, polygons, and stars, and these objects are very different from paths that you can draw that just look like rectangles, ellipses, polygons, and stars. So in this movie we'll look at how shapes work and how you can convert shapes to regular paths if you need to. If you look in Inkscape's toolbox in the upper half there are series of tools you can use to draw shapes. Things like rectangles, 3D boxes, ellipses, stars and polygons, and spirals.
For now let's set aside the 3D box tool, since it has some unique features and focus on the others. With each of these tools you can quickly create shapes with the formatting you want and you can modify these shapes with controls that appear on the actual shapes. To choose the formatting of a shape double-click on the tool. I'll double-click on the Rectangle tool. The Preferences dialog opens and here I can set the Style of new shapes. Inkscape remembers the Last used style and I can tell it to keep using that style for all the new rectangles I draw, or I can choose This tool's own style, which will stay consistent regardless of how I style rectangles in my document.
And you can see the default style for a rectangle is a blue fill. Let's choose Last used style and close the dialog. And draw out a rectangle. And in my case Inkscape remembers that the last rectangle I styled was purple with 50% Opacity. And I can see that over here in the Fill and Stroke dialog. And each rectangle I draw from here on will have that style, but if I change one to say a green fill and 100% Opacity now when I draw a rectangle it'll have a green fill with 100% Opacity.
Also notice there are controls on the rectangle. There are two squares and a circle. We'll go into more detail about them in the movie on rectangles, but for now just know that these are the only controls you have to modify the shape of this rectangle. You can't select individual corners or sides and modify them freely. You can resize the rectangle, or round its corners with these controls, but this is alway going to be a rectangle. Likewise, if I draw out an ellipse with the Ellipse tool it works the same way.
I can use the last used style for its formatting, or have a consistent style for all ellipses, which I can get at by double-clicking on the Ellipse tool and open the Preferences again. And it has controls for resizing the ellipse, but again I can't just reshape this freely. Same goes for the Star and Polygon tool and the Spiral tool. Now if I just want to use one of these shapes as a starting point for something else entirely I need to convert it to a regular path. And for that I need to select the shape, so I'll take the Selector tool, I'll grab this rectangle, and choose Path, Object to Path, or I could use this keyboard shortcut Shift + Ctrl + C.
Now it didn't look like anything changed. The outward appearance of the object is the same, but if I switch to the node tool by pressing the letter N on my keyboard I can see a big difference. The controls for adjusting the height and width and corner radius are gone and now I have independent nodes that define the shape of this path. I can grab nodes by dragging over them, like the bottom two here, and move them anywhere I want with my arrow keys. I can add nodes wherever I want. Like I could select this segment and press shift + I to add a node in between.
And move that as well. And completely reshape the object. I can do the same thing at top. Press shift + I, move this node. And pretty soon I have something that's really not a rectangle at all. It's a freely reshapeable object. Oftentimes starting with a shape and then converting it to a path is easier than drawing something from scratch with the Pen tool. So in this movie we learned about Inkscape's shape tools, we saw how you can set the formatting for shapes, and how you can modify them in limited ways.
We also saw how you can convert shapes to regular paths when you need more flexibility to reshape them into something entirely different.
- Downloading and installing Inkscape
- Creating new documents
- Importing AI and EPS files in Inkscape
- Working with input devices like tablets
- Drawing basic shapes
- Scaling and rotating objects
- Adding fills and strokes
- Using Inkscape extensions
- Adding and editing text
- Printing and exporting Inkscape artwork
Skill Level Beginner
Drawing Vector Graphics: Patternswith Von Glitschka3h 59m Intermediate
1. Getting Started
2. Navigating an Inkscape Document
3. Drawing Basic Shapes
4. Transforming Objects
5. Working with Fills and Strokes
6. Using Filters
7. Using Extensions
8. Creating Complex Shapes
9. Working with Text
10. Printing and Exporting Artwork
Next steps1m 9s
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