Join Mike Rankin for an in-depth discussion in this video Using the Spray tool, part of Inkscape Essential Training.
- Sometimes you might want to create artwork composed of many copies of a graphic element. Think of things like leaves on a tree, a school of fish, copying and pasting and then modifying each leaf or fish would be a slow and tedious way to work. Fortunately, Inkscape has a much better solution. The Spray Tool, so let's see how it works. So here in the Exercise file I have a bare tree that I'd like to add some foliage to. And I have a single leaf that I'm going to use to create the foliage. I'll select the leaf and then select the Spray Tool.
And in the Tool Controls I have 3 different modes for the Spray Tool. The first one gives me independent copies of the graphic that I'm spraying. So it's just like I'm copying, pasting but much faster. The second option creates clones. So every leaf I spray is connected to the original one. And when I modify the original, the clones are automatically modified in the same way. And we'll see how that works later on. And the third mode unites all the objects in a single path which could be used for creating interesting shading effects or textures.
But it wouldn't be appropriate for making foliage in this case. So I'm going to stick with the clone mode. And let's look at the rest of the Tool Controls. Width is the size of the spray area. And note that it's relative to the visible canvass area. What that means is when I'm zoomed in close I'll spray over a small area. And when I'm zoomed way out using the same setting, I'll spray over a much larger area. Amount controls how many copies of the source graphic are sprayed. And note you can use this tool with a pressure sensitive pen tablet.
So the harder you press the more copies you get. I can also add in some variation so all the copies are not exact duplicates which will be great for creating naturally looking graphics like these leaves on a tree that I want to make. So I can have copies that are rotated, copies that are of different sizes. And the Scatter Control is where copies are placed relative to my cursor. At a one value for Scatter all the copies go right at the center of the spray area. And at 100 all the scatter copies go throughout the spray area. And Focus is similar.
At a zero focus, copies are tightly placed in the center of the spray. And at 100 they avoid the center and are placed all the way out at the edge. So let's add some leaves to the tree. So again, we're using the Clone Mode. We'll vary the width just a little bit. We want a whole bunch of leaves so we're going to drag the amount all the way to a 100. We'll rotate them a little bit. Some are around 20, same for the scale. And we'll leave a low scatter value. And let's start spraying leaves on the tree just by clicking and dragging. And we'll add them up and down and all around throughout the tree.
Wherever we see a branch that we want to add some leaves to. Just think of what it would be like to draw each of these things or to copy and paste them. Or try to do this any other way. Alright, that looks pretty good. Now note a couple of places here we have leaves that went off the tree. Now that's no problem because we can just press the spacebar and then select the leaf and move it where we want it to go. Likewise we can drag some if these guys in and get them on the tree. And we'll just move this guy in here.
Now since I us the Clone Mode, I can select the original leaf and modify it to modify all the copies. So here's the original. And I can choose a different color from my swatches. And instantly change from spring to fall. Now note there's no option to add a variation in color using the Spray Tool. So if you want that, what you could do in this case, is once you're done spraying the leaves you could break the link to the original by selecting all the clones. I'll just press Ctrl + A and choose edit Clone, Unlink Clone and when Inkscape's done we'll have all independent leaves.
Now to add some variation and color we can select them all, take the Tweak Tool and select the Jitter Color Mode. And make sure our channels are selected for Hues, Saturation and Lightness. Probably not Opacity in this case though. We don't leaves that we can see through. And then just click and drag over the leaves. And just like that you get some nice varied fall foliage. So here we saw how to create linked copies of an object using the Spray Tool. And then we unlink them from the original and used the Tweak Tool to introduce some variation in color.
- 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