Frequently Asked Questions — for Inkscape Users *
* Please find an FAQ for Inkscape Developers in the wiki.
Inkscape Users Frequently Asked Questions
What is Inkscape?
Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format.
What is “vector graphics”?
In contrast to raster (“bitmap”) graphics editors such as Photoshop or GIMP, Inkscape stores its graphics in a vector format. Vector graphics is a resolution-independent description of the actual shapes and objects that you see in the image. A rasterization engine uses this information to determine how to plot each line and curve at any resolution or zoom level.
Contrast that to raster ("bitmap") graphics, which is always bound to a specific resolution, and stores an image as a grid of pixels.
Vector graphics are a complement, rather than an alternative, to raster graphics. Each has its own purpose and is useful for different kinds of things. Raster graphics tend to be better for photographs and some kinds of artistic drawings, while vectors are more suitable for design compositions, logos, images with text, technical illustrations, etc.
Note that Inkscape can import and display raster images, too. An imported raster images becomes yet another object in your vector graphics, and you can do with it everything you can do to other kinds of objects (move, transform, clip, etc.).
What is “Scalable Vector Graphics”?
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an open, industry-standard XML-based format for vector graphics developed by the W3C. Its acceptance has grown fast! Most, if not all, vector editors can import and export SVG, and all modern browsers (including IE, starting with IE9) can display it directly, i.e. without requiring any plugins. For more information, see About SVG below.
What platforms does Inkscape run on?
We provide source tarballs for Linux (binary packages are offered by the distributor), packages for Windows XP/Vista/7/8 (fully self-contained installer), and Mac OS X (DMG). We know that Inkscape is successfully used on FreeBSD and other Unix-like operating systems. Note that Windows 98/Me and 2000 are no longer supported.
What formats can Inkscape import/export?
Inkscape natively supports opening or importing SVG, SVGZ (gzipped SVG), PDF and Adobe Illustrator (.ai) formats. And, as of version 0.91, Inkscape can import CDR (CorelDraw) and VSD (Visio) natively.
With the help of extensions, Inkscape can open a number other vector formats. For importing PostScript or EPS, please see How to open EPS files in Windows. For formats of Dia, XFig, or Sketch, you need to have those programs installed.
Inkscape can natively import most raster formats (JPEG, PNG, GIF, etc.) as bitmap images, but it can only export PNG bitmaps.
Inkscape does not intend to export other raster formats than PNG as this is currently the most suitable format for vector graphics: it is an open format which uses lossless compression and is typically supported by all graphics or rendering software.
If you need to convert your vector image into another raster image format (e.g. because your document contains bitmaps and the PNG file size is too large, or you want to use your vector image on a platform which only accepts JPEG), you will need to convert the exported PNG with another software (such as GIMP or ImageMagick) or an extension (see this one for JPEG).
Inkscape can save as SVG, SVGZ, PDF, Postscript/EPS/EPSi, LaTeX (*.tex), POVRay (*.pov), HPGL, and MANY others. Starting with version 0.91, Inkscape can save as: FXG (Flash XML Graphics), SIF (Synfig Animation Studio), HTML5 Canvas, and there are improvements for XAML export. Please see “Exporting Other File Types” section of the Exporting Files chapter of the manual, for more details.
If you need another import or export format that Inkscape currently does not offer, you can make a suggestion to add it to Inkscape in the Inkscape bug tracker.
How did Inkscape start?
Inkscape was started as a fork of Sodipodi, in late 2003, by four Sodipodi developers: Bryce Harrington, MenTaLguY, Nathan Hurst, and Ted Gould. Our mission was creating a fully compliant Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) drawing tool written in C++ with a new, more user friendly (GNOME Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) compliant) interface and an open, community-oriented development process. Within several months the project had produced several releases, demonstrating a sequence of significant new features and improvements to the codebase and quickly established Inkscape as a noteworthy Open Source project.
What does “Inkscape” mean?
The name is made up of the two English words "ink" and "scape". Ink is a common substance for drawings, and is used when the sketched work is ready to be permanently committed to paper, and thus evokes the idea that Inkscape is ready for production work. A scape is a view of a large number of objects, such as a landscape or ocean-scape, and thus alludes to the object-oriented nature of vector imagery.
Is Inkscape ready for regular users?
Yes! While Inkscape does not yet have all the features of the leading vector editors, the latest versions provide for a large portion of basic vector graphics editing capabilities. People report successfully using Inkscape in a wide variety of professions and hobbies alike; such as web graphics, technical diagrams, icons, creative art, logos, maps). For example, thousands of images on Wikipedia are created with Inkscape, as is the majority of the content on openclipart.org. Many more examples of Inkscape art can be seen on the Official Inkscape deviantART page; and not to mention the new Gallery on the Inkscape website.
You can start using Inkscape alongside your other graphics and desktop tools now!
Can Inkscape create webpages?
Many webpage authors use Inkscape for webpage mockups or to generate parts of web pages, such as banners, logos, icons, and more.
With the recent advances in SVG support in web browsers, using SVG directly on the web becomes more of a possibility. Most modern browsers can now display SVG images. In theory, SVG and XHTML can be used together within the same document, so interested users or developers can explore this possibility further.
Unfortunately, even though SVG is the internet standard for vector graphics, SVG support is not 100%. Therefore, web page authors who need to support the widest variety of web browsers, often convert each SVG graphic to a raster image (.png) as the very last step.
Can Inkscape create animations?
Yes and no. Inkscape itself does not support animation, although it might someday. Until then, there are several ways to animate, either SVG images, or raster images which were originally created with Inkscape, using other technology. This page covers everything about animation and Inkscape.
Can Inkscape be used from the command line?
Yes, Inkscape has a powerful command line interface and can be used in scripts for a variety of tasks, such as exporting and format conversions. Please see below, for more info.
Will there be an Inkscape 1.00? What would it be like?
Assuming development continues steadily, we will inevitably hit 1.00, but no particular date has been discussed yet.
One of the goals that must be completed before version 1.00 is the full implementation of the SVG 2.0 Specification.
Before going gold with any kind of 1.00 release, there would be a significant effort to tie down loose ends, a push for greater stability and smoothing off of rough edges. This would be a time consuming process and until it does happen Inkscape may be subject to substantial changes between releases.
For more information see our Wiki Roadmap notes. This is something like a developers' "to-do list". However, please note that it's a very general guide, is extremely flexible, and constantly under revision.
Answers to frequently asked “How-to” questions
How to upgrade on Windows XP — Do I need to uninstall the old version first?
When you already have Inkscape installed on your Windows XP computer and you launch the installer for the new version, you should be asked if you wish to uninstall the version you already have. If you answer "Yes", a wizard will be launched that will uninstall the old version; when it finishes, the install wizard will then launch.
However, a file may be left in your installation folder (the default is C:\Program Files\Inkscape) that prevents the installation from completing. Simply use your File Manager to navigate to that folder and remove any files that may be there. You can then resume installation.
If you wish to keep the old version on your computer, simply choose a different folder to which the newer Inkscape should be installed.
How to change Inkscape's interface language
Edit > Inkscape Preferences > Interface: Language. This requires a restart of Inkscape to take effect.
How to change the Inkscape theme
Please see the info here.
How to make a transparent background or change the background color
Inkscape's background is transparent by default. It simply does not use the checkerboard pattern that many graphics programs use, to indicate transparency. The only place you will see the checkerboard pattern to indicate transparency, is in color bars, in the Fill and Stroke dialog, or in the Style Indicators, and several different dialogs, wherever color and/or opacity can be set.
To make a background non-transparent, please go to File menu > Document Properties > Page tab > Display, and click on the checkerboard bar. A small window will open, which allows you to change the color and/or opacity of the background. This should affect the exported images, but the background may still be transparent if you render your SVG with another software (e.g. a browser). If you want to display the background color everywhere the file is used, you'll need to draw a large rectangle, to fit the image/page size to place behind your drawing (on the bottom, in z-order), and fill it with the background color you want. See also this feature request.
How to make a hole in a solid object, like the hole in a donut
There are several ways to approach this, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
- Draw the inner and outer circles (or whatever the shape is).
- Select both paths.
- Path menu > Combine
- Then press this button on Fill and Stroke dialog > Fill tab: , (read about the Fill Rule, in the manual)
- Draw the inner and outer circles (or shapes).
- Select one of the paths. (either one)
- Path menu > Reverse
- Select both paths
- Path menu > Combine
- Draw the inner and outer circles (or shapes).
- Put the inner circle on top, in z-order.
- Select both paths.
- Path menu > Difference
- And there are some fancier ways to accomplish this, but which go beyond the scope of an FAQ. Please see Where to find more help with Inkscape for further assistance.
How to join 2 nodes, when one of the nodes is not an end node
This is currently not possible with Inkscape. Only 2 end nodes can be joined. However, you can still place the nodes precisely, one on top of the other, using either Snapping, or entering the same values for both nodes in the X: and Y: fields on the Node tool control bar.
Then, they can be moved together, as if they were one node, by selecting both nodes when you need to move them. Using the Node tool ( ), with both paths (or subpaths) selected, drag a tiny selection box around the 2 "stacked" nodes (or however many are stacked there). Now they can be moved around, as if they were one single node.
How to create custom document templates
How to measure distances and angles
For versions 0.91 and later, Inkscape has a Measurement Tool.
For versions below 0.91 (which are 0.48.5 and below) the Pen/Bezier tool can be used to get a general measurement. But it's hard to be precise with it. With the Pen/Bezier tool ( ), click at one end of the segment you want to measure, and move the mouse (without clicking) to the other end. In the status bar, you will see the distance and angle measurement. Then press Esc or right-click to cancel.
The angle is measured by default from 3 o'clock origin counterclockwise (the mathematical convention), but in Preferences you can switch this to using compass-like measurement (from 12 o'clock, clockwise).
Extensions menu > Visualize Path > Measure Path will display the measurement of a selected path, in a new text object on the canvas. Until the Measurement tool is available, after noting the measurement, you can either Undo, or just delete the text. Here is info on the Measure Path extension.
How to scale or rotate groups of nodes
By mouse: With the Node tool engaged ( ) press the "Show transformation handles for selected nodes" button , on the Node tool control bar, then select the nodes you need. Now you can transform the selected nodes in the same way as the Selection tool transforms objects. Click on an already selected node to toggle between scaling handles and rotation/skewing handles.
By keyboard: Select the nodes you need. Then press the '<' or '>' key, to scale; or press the '[' or ']' key, to rotate them.
Nodes will be transformed, as if they were an "object", either around the center of that node group, or around the node over which your mouse cursor hovers. So, for example, in a single-path silhouette portrait, you can now select the nodes of the nose and rotate/scale the nose as a whole without breaking the path into pieces.
Press the Alt key, with either method, for incremental movement. Also, you can press H or V key, to flip the selected nodes horizontally or vertically.
How to insert math symbols or other special symbols in the drawing
Probably the simplest way, is to use whatever input method is provided by your operating system. For example, in Windows, you can use the Character Map (Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Character Map). Or in Inkscape, Text menu > Glyphs may provide even more options. For more info, please see the Creating Text chapter, in the manual.
There are a couple of extensions which allow the use of LaTeX formulas. One of them can be found in the Render submenu of the Extensions menu, another one, for example, is texTex. Or they can also be found in the Extensions Repository. More info here and in the manual.
How to make sine curves with Inkscape
Extensions menu > Render > Function Plotter. Please find info in the manual.
How to create custom palettes, and how to save colors for future use
Custom palettes can be created using Swatches.
Since Inkscape uses the same palette file format as The GIMP (The GNU Image Manipulation Program), GIMP palettes can be installed in Inkscape. To install a palette, copy the .gpl file to the /palettes directory in your Inkscape installation (on Ubuntu: /usr/share/palettes/, on Windows: (\share)\palettes directory in Inksape installation directory).
How to bend a gradient — How to apply a gradient to a stroke so that it bends with the stroke — Gradient Mesh
It's not yet possible to bend a gradient, with Inkscape. Development of a Gradient Mesh tool is on-going though, and someday, it will be possible. Please see this example for a general description of how a gradient mesh works. Meanwhile, there are several techniques that can be used to "fake" this effect, in various circumstances.
- Blurring of open, stroked paths, or long and narrow closed paths (such as crescent shaped objects), can sometimes simulate a curved gradient, in certain situations. Often used with clipping, to retain sharp edges, which can make the trick more effective. For example, in simulating highlights or shadows, in a drawing of a 3D sphere. Or for another example, see Phases 3 and 4, of this tutorial, by Ryan Lerch.
- Radial gradients can also be used with clipping (so that only a portion of the radial gradient can be seen) to simulate a curved gradient, in certain situations.
- Please see this quick tutorial on simulating a curved gradient that bends with the stroke. This is probably more effective than the first 2, as long as the stroke is relatively narrow.
- Markers can be used with blurring and clipping, to fake a more complex gradient. No official or semi-official resources exist, but an internet search should turn up some excellent community tutorials.
- Pattern Along Path can be used with Interpolate Attribute in a Group extension to simulate a curved gradient.
- The Interpolate extension can be used, to create a blend between two curved paths painted with different colors or opacity levels. With enough intermediate steps, such a blend will look almost like an arbitrarily curved gradient. Again, no specific official examples available, but an internet search might reveal some community tutorials.
How to change the color of tiled clones
How to convert raster (“bitmap”) images to vector (SVG)
There are generally 2 ways to convert a raster image to vector -- 'manual' tracing and automatic tracing.
Here are the general steps for manually tracing a raster image:
- File menu > Import (or drag and drop), to bring the image into Inkscape.
- Use Inkscape's Pen/Bezier tool, Pencil/Freehand tool, or Calligraphy tool (depending on the effect or style you want), to draw right on top of the imported image.
- Optional, helpful tips:
- create a special layer for the imported image, so it can be separately hidden and/or locked, as needed; then draw on a different layer
- depending on your needs and the image itself, reducing the opacity of either the imported image, or its layer, can make it easier to see what you're doing, and draw with precision
- zooming can also make it easier to see details, and draw with precision
Automatic tracing can be done in Inkscape, with Path menu > Trace Bitmap. Typically, and unlike some Inkscape features, it takes some practice to become proficient with this feature. Details in the manual, as well as in this short tutorial.
And there are some other vector trace engines around the internet. They have different features, with various advantages and disadvantages. Best advice is experiment, to learn which one best meet your needs.
How to open EPS files in Windows
Initially you need to find out where ps2pdf is on your machine or install it. It's in the Ghostscript lib directory, which is probably something like C:\Program Files\gs\gs9.09\lib.
If it is not installed you may find a current release of Ghostscript for Windows on their download page here.
Then you need to add this to the system Path in Environment Variables. To navigate there on Win XP, Vista, 7: Start button > Control Panel > System > Advanced > Environment Variables. In Windows 8.1/10, right-click on This PC, choose Properties > Advanced system settings > Advanced tab > Environment Variables. Scroll through the System variables in the bottom panel, and select Path, click Edit. In the ridiculously small edit box provided add a semicolon to the end of whatever is there at the moment, and then add C:\Program Files\gs\gs9.16\lib (or whatever it is on your machine). Note — There should be no space between the semicolon and C (the start of the path).
You will also need to add the Ghostscript bin directory after another semicolon to the system Path. (This will be the same as the lib directory, but ending in bin rather than lib — for example: C:\Program Files\gs\gs9.16\bin)
Note that updating to a new version of Ghostscript will install to a new \gs directory, but will not erase the old version subdirectory or update the Environment Variables.You'll need to delete the old directories and Environmental Variable paths if you want to make use of the newly installed version (with the new directory and paths). Also note that if you have a 64-bit system, and you install the 32-bit version of Ghostscript, the paths will be C:/Program Files (x86)/...etc., instead of C:/Program Files/...etc.
How to install new extensions, palettes, document templates, symbol sets, icon sets, etc.
If you've found a new Inkscape extension (or palette, document template, symbol set, icon set, etc.) on the internet, you'll need to install it in Inkscape, to be able to use it. The directory where the downloaded files need to be pasted is slightly different, depending on which kind of system you're using. To find it, look in Edit menu > Preferences > System > User config. There you will see a path, which for example, in Windows, is C:\Users\user name\AppData\Roaming\Inkscape. When you browse to that place, using your file manager, you'll see several folders, such as 'extensions', 'palettes', 'templates', etc. Sometimes, the folder you need isn't there. If that's the case, you can just make a new one. *
- For new extensions, usually you will have downloaded 2 files — one .py file and one .inx file. Both need to be pasted into the 'extensions' folder. But pay attention to the site where you downloaded the files. Sometimes there will be more files, or other special instructions.
- For new palettes, usually there will be one .gpl file. It needs to be pasted into the 'palettes' folder.
- For document templates, symbol sets, and icon sets, there will be a single .svg file, to be pasted into the appropriate folder.
* For Windows, sometimes AppData is hidden. You can consult Windows documentation for instructions how to unhide all hidden files and folders. Or you can paste that path into Windows Explorer, to open just that folder, for just this reason (and all the other hidden folders remain hidden). It might not look like there's any place to paste that path, in Windows Explorer, but it's the first row under the titlebar. Just click there, and you will see that you can paste it in. Don't forget to change "user name" to the name you registered for your computer.
How to make an SVG object into a link
Please see this info in the manual.
Where to find a list of all keyboard shortcuts
From inside the Inkscape program, go to Help menu > Keys and Mouse Reference, or visit this page directly (reference for Inkscape 0.91).
How to use Inkscape from the command line
Using the command line interface on Windows has certain limitations and specific requirements. As of the 0.48.2 release, the windows installer will copy two files,
inkscape.com, into your Inkscape directory. The start menu shortcut points to
inkscape.exe, which does not write any output to the console. However, if you type 'inkscape' from a command prompt, and if the install directory
(C:\Program Files (x86)\Inkscape\) is in your path, then
inkscape.com will be executed. This is actually a windows executable, that calls
inkscape.exe and attaches it to the console window, thus displaying
stderr to the console.
If you type "inkscape.exe" from a command prompt, things like exporting or converting to plain SVG will work, but will not output error messages or warnings to the console.
If you are using an older version of Inkscape, or just wish for historical context, see this mailing list thread.
Where to find more help with Inkscape
On your own:
- Help menu > Inkscape manual (requires internet connection). The Inkscape manual is also available as a book or ebook.
- Help menu > Tutorials
- Floss Manual
- Besides those manuals, there are several books instructing how to use Inkscape -- too many to list here. Check with your favorite book seller.
- Besides the official tutorials (Help menu), there are multitudes of tutorials, throughout the internet, including the Tutorials page of the Inkscape website.
- Don't forget about searching the internet, using your favorite search engine! There are WAY more Inkscape tutorials throughout the internet than can possibly be shown on the website (or linked to it).
If you've tried your best but are totally stuck, or just want to discuss some broader topics with other Inkscape users, there are several bulletin board style forums, in several different languages, on the internet. These are listed on the Community page of the Inkscape website. Some people think of these forums as the best place to ask for help, because typically they allow for attaching files and/or displaying images, which are often needed to both clarify issues, and explain answers. Launchpad Answers is also a good place to ask for help, because sometimes a developer will be available to answer your question. However, since files and/or images cannot be attached or displayed, it might not the best place to ask "how-to" type of questions.
The Inkscape-user mailing list is another good place to ask for help, if you're willing to deal with all the email generated by mailing lists.
Asking for help on IRC
Sometimes people join IRC thinking they can get a quick answer. However this can be very hit and miss, as generally whomever is active on IRC at the moment probably doesn't know the right answer for you. Also, your question may result in distracting other conversations.
Please find info for accessing IRC on the Chat Now page of the Inkscape website.
If you decide to ask for help on IRC, please follow these guidelines:
- The first thing you need to post, is your question. Don't post things like "hello, is anyone there?" or "can someone answer a question for me?". Just ask the question, straight out.
- Be patient; it could take as much as 30 min for someone to see and respond to your question.
Solutions to frequently reported problems
Exported PNGs don't have a transparent background
Most likely, this is because you used Save As: Cairo.png. Instead, you need to use File menu > Export PNG Image. (In versions before 0.91, it's called Export Bitmap.) Less likely, you may be using a MAC, and have encountered a bug in which Copy/Paste rasterizes objects.
Ellipse tool won't draw whole ellipses — it's only drawing wedges or arcs
With the object selected, click the far right button on the Ellipse tool control bar
Rectangle tool only draws rounded corners, instead of sharp
With the object selected, click the far right button on the Rectangle tool control bar
Gradients or patterns disappear when objects are moved or resized
Although it may seem odd, Inkscape does provide a way to move gradient and pattern fills of objects separately from the object. If one of these seems to disappear when you move or scale the object, you probably have the "Move gradients (in fill and/or stroke) along with object" button or "Move pattern (in fill and/or stroke) along with object" button toggled off on the Selection tool ( ) control bar. Toggle it back on, and your gradient or pattern will stay with the object when you move or resize it, as you expect.
Marker (e.g. arrow ends) color doesn't change when stroke color is changed
Starting with version 0.91, markers automatically take the color of the stroke. To change the color of the marker to match the stroke, in previous versions, you can use: Extensions menu > Modify Path > Color Markers to Match Stroke. If you need the color of the marker to be different from the color of the stroke (for some reason) you can find instructions for changing it in the XML code in the manual.
Object disappears when a mask is applied
This is probably because SVG masks work differently than a typical mask that you might use in a raster graphics program. Please see this chapter in the manual for details.
There's a seam, or artifact, between adjacent objects sharing the same border, or between patterns
Because of a known problem with Inkscape's renderer (as well as many other renderers, for example Xara's), at different zoom levels, you may notice a seam between 2 adjacent objects, even though one object ends and the other begins on precisely the same point, and there is absolutely no gap between them. This has to do with something called "anti-aliasing", which is what makes Inkscape's (and other vector editors') lines so sharp and clear. These issues will be seen in versions 0.48.5 and older. However, starting with version 0.91, a new renderer alleviates this problem somewhat, but not entirely.
There are a few ways to improve this situation, for adjacent objects:
- The only complete solution (no gap at all) is to slightly overlap the objects -- only a 1 or 2 pixel overlap is necessary. Although if the objects contain any transparency, that won't work. If they are partially transparent, a very small amount of blurring could help, in certain situations.
- If the adjacent edges are perfectly horizontal or vertical, placing them precisely on whole pixel coordinates can help. This can be done automaticallly using Extensions menu > Modify Path > PixelSnap.
- If they aren't so much edges as perfectly horizontal or vertical lines (stroked paths), using whole pixel widths in addition to placing them on whole pixel coordinates can help.
- In some cases, perhaps you don't need 2 or more individual objects, so that you can use Path menu > Union, and make them all one solid object.
- If the drawing is to be exported, be sure and export at 90 dpi (which ensures that Inkscape pixels are equal to a raster ('bitmap') pixel).
- Another solution is Ivan Louette's Stitch filter, which can be found in this InkscapeForum.com message.
For patterns, in versions before 0.91, unfortunately there's not a good solution. The problem is improved in 0.91 and later, but not eliminated. There are some tricks that can help disguise it, but they are very dependent on the particular circumstances on your canvas. You might want to consider posting a message in a forum or on the mailing list, where you can share your file, and others can collaborate with you.
Your imported raster image has been replaced by another one, which says "Linked Image Not Found"
When raster ("bitmap") images are imported into Inkscape, you will be given a choice of options: to link, or to embed.
Embed — The raster file becomes permanently part of the SVG file, and will always be there when you open the SVG file (unless/until it's deleted or extracted). (Advantage - The raster image stays in the SVG file. Disadvantage - The embedded raster image makes the SVG file much larger.)
Link — The raster file does not become part of the SVG file, and instead, the path for Inkscape to find the raster file (on your computer) is stored in SVG file. Every time you open the SVG file, Inkscape looks for the raster file, in the place where it was when you imported it, so it can be displayed. If you happen to delete that raster file from your computer, or move it to another location, or if you take the SVG file to another computer, Inkscape will not be able to find the raster file, the next time you open it. However, Inkscape does remember that there had been an imported raster file, and it remembers exactly where it was on your canvas. So in that place on your canvas, Inkscape displays a beautiful placeholder/error message for you:
At this point, the only way to get the image back, is to import it again (unless you can put the image back in your file manager, where it was at the time you imported it). This time, you could either embed it, or simply remember to keep it together with the SVG file, if you plan to move either file later. (If you initially link an imported image, and later want it to be embedded, you can use Extensions menu > Images > Embed Images.)
Another possible solution might be to convert the raster image to vector, using Inkscape's automated trace engine: Trace Bitmap. However, Trace Bitmap is not designed to accurately reproduce any raster image. Depending on how you plan to use the imported image, tracing might not be the best solution. (Typically the decision whether to auto-trace or not, has more to do with designing your image, than simply not accidentally losing the imported raster file.)
After installing IE9, SVG files are opened with IE, instead of Inkscape
If you install IE9 after Inkscape, IE9's installer may change what program opens SVG files. To change it back to Inkscape:
- Right-click any SVG file in Windows Explorer.
- Select Properties in the context menu.
- Next to "Opens with", click "Change...".
- If Inkscape is listed, click it and OK. Otherwise, click Browse, find Inkscape.exe in your hard drive, and press OK twice.
- Press OK one more time.
Some fonts that work fine in other programs, don't work in Inkscape
Inkscape seems to be picky about fonts. If they are unstable, or otherwise not well-made, they may appear in the list of fonts (when Text tool is engaged) but either nothing shows up when you type, or it types plain text, instead of the font you want. There seems to be some improvement in more current versions. Best advice is to acquire a better quality font. Or if you are on a Mac, please see Inkscape does not see some fonts (on Mac).
Some fonts can't be bolded or italicized
Some fonts are designed with bold, italics, and some other faces (like oblique, etc.); and some are not. For Inkscape versions 0.48.x and earlier, Inkscape attempts to simulate italics for the fonts which don't have an italics face. But it can't simulate bolding.
So if you try to bold a font, and either nothing happens, or it changes to plain text, then either it just doesn't have a bold face, or perhaps is not well-made. Best advice is to find a font which is made with the face you need.
For Inkscape versions 0.91 and above, Inkscape no longer tries to simulate different faces, because it's simulation wasn't true anyway. So if your font won't go bold or italics, you'll need to find a font which is made with those faces.
It might be possible to simulate bolding such a font, by adding a stroke, and adjusting stroke width. But it wouldn't be a true bolding. And it might be possible to simulate italics by skewing the text slightly. But again, not true italics. You can still force Inkscape to simulate italics by manually entering "italic" into the text field for the font variant in the text tool's controls bar.
Unable to scan directly into Inkscape
This feature is not implemented in current Inkscape versions, but you can use Gimp to scan your document and then import it in Inkscape. A request for enhancement has been filed: Bug #171843 - Acquire/Scan Image Interface.
Flowed text doesn't show up in exported file
Not very many renderers can display flowed text, because it's not fully implemented in SVG standards yet. So the solution is not to use flowed text if you're planning to export to a different format, or use the file outside of Inkscape.
Flowed text is created by clicking and dragging with the Text tool, while a simple click creates plain text. So, if you don't really need the flowing aspect, just use click to position text cursor instead of dragging to create a frame. If however, you really need flowed text, you will have to convert it to regular (non-flowed) text (Text menu > Convert to Text). This command fully preserves the appearance and formatting of your flowed text but makes it non-flowed and SVG compliant.
Inkscape and some other renderer (image viewer or graphics program) show SVG images differently. Why? What to do?
A “renderer” is any program (or part of a program) which can display images. Inkscape uses a renderer to show the image you're working on, on the Inkscape canvas and to redraw it, with every edit you make. So does The GIMP (The GNU Image Manipulation Program), Photoshop, and virtually every graphics program out there. The Adobe Reader is a renderer. And web browsers (e.g. Firefox, IE, etc.) behave as renderers when they display images.
Why do they display SVG images differently? Renderers come in many different forms, as briefly indicated just now, and with many different purposes. They're made by different groups, businesses or organizations, which all have different goals, requirements, and upgrade timelines. Therefore, they have different features, which result in differences in how they display the same image.
What can be done about it? In terms of your immediate needs, it may be as simple as finding a renderer which displays what you need it to display. The current versions of Firefox and Chrome browsers probably are the best, for displaying images made with current versions of Inkscape.
Inkscape edits to an SVG file, which was originally created in Adobe Illustrator, are lost when importing back into AI
That's because Adobe cheats. It creates a valid SVG, but apart from the SVG code it also writes to the file, in encoded binary form, the entire AI-format source file of the image. Inkscape, of course, edits the SVG part of the image and leaves the encoded binary untouched. But when you import the SVG file back to AI, it completely disregards the SVG code with its edits and reads directly from the encoded AI binary. Therefore, any SVG changes are lost. To work around it, in Inkscape open the XML Editor and remove the non-SVG elements (everything not with the svg: prefix in its name, usually towards the end of the tree). If you need to do this job repeatedly you may consider using some XSLT-based automation. Alternatively, when exporting SVG from Illustrator, uncheck the options "Preserve Adobe Illustrator Editing" and "Optimize for Adobe SVG viewer".
Alt key doesn't work on Linux
Alt+click and Alt+drag are very useful Inkscape shortcuts ("select under" and "move selected" with Selection tool, and "node sculpting" with Node tool). However, on Linux, Alt+click and Alt+drag are often reserved by the window manager for manipulating windows.
From version 0.91 and later, Inkscape offers a keyboard shortcut editor, which allows you to set arbitrary keyboard shortcuts for inkscape functions.
From version 0.46 and later there is an option in the ~/.config/inkscape/preferences.xml file to allow another modifier key to be used as an alias for Alt within Inkscape. The option is "mapalt" under group "options", and has a numerical value. This value equates to the modifier key that is mapped to Alt, 1 indicates Alt, ie, no mapping). The value you need to use depends on the setup of your particular keyboard and may be 2, 3, 4, or 5. The program xkeycaps, available from www.jwz.org, is useful in finding which mod values are assigned to which keys on your keyboard. The value associated with a particular key is shown in that program at the top of the screen beside the word "Modifiers" when the mouse is held over a key on the main display.
Note that this setting in preferences.xml makes the new key an alias for Alt in every keyboard shortcut in Inkscape, not just those concerned with the mouse.
Alternatively, you can disable Alt-click and Alt-drag in your window manager as shown below:
For example, in KDE this is done in Control Center > Desktop > Window Behavior > Window Actions.
Please read Xfce 4 Window Manager documentation. (The documentation is currently out of date for the 4.4 series.)
- To enable in Xfce 4.4 or greater, in the Settings Manager > Window Manager Tweaks > Accessibility Tab, change "Key used to grab and move windows" to "none" or something else. Several other selections (such as "Meta") may still use the "Alt" key, however, so test it first.
- Before 4.4, edit ~/.config/xfce4/xfwm4/xfwm4rc to contain "easy click=false".
- Under GNOME 2, go to System > Preferences > Windows > "Super"
- Under GNOME 3, 'Super' is already the default, since version 3.5 *. For versions before 3.5, open a Terminal window and type: https://wiki.gnome.org/Design/OS/KeyboardShortcuts *
Beginning from version 1.0rc2, fluxbox allows changing the key used for manipulating windows. To use windows logo key for this, open file ~/.fluxbox/init in a text editor and change line "session.modKey: Mod1" to "session.modKey: Mod4"
If you have not already done so, create a local copy of the IceWM system preferences file. (Typically the system file is
/usr/share/icewm/preferences and your local copy is
~/.icewm/preferences. Your mileage may vary.) Edit your local copy as follows:
- Save the preferences file and restart IceWM.
Mac OS X specific issues
Alt key doesn't work
If you find yourself unable to use Inkscape functions that require the
alt key (i.e.
option key) such as Alt+D to create a clone or Alt+Click to select under, you will need to turn off the "Emulate three button mouse" under the Input Preferences for X11.
Recent X11/Xquartz versions (≥ 2.5.1) have a new GUI option in the preferences dialog to make the
option/alt key work like a real
Alt modifier instead of
Mode_switch (X11 Preferences > Input > Option keys send Alt_L and Alt_R). Changing this setting will have the downside of no longer being able to input diacritic and other special characters via keyboard in X11-based applications because both option keys will be changed — see below for a more fine-grained solution.
If you still cannot get it to work you can try using a keyboard mapping file for X11 (the environment Inkscape is running in) called an xmodmap (keyboard modifier map and keymap table). Open a terminal and type
cd ~ touch .Xmodmap
This will create a new text file called ".Xmodmap" in your home directory. The period before the actual file name "Xmodmap" causes the file to stay hidden within the Finder.
Now open the file by typing
and paste the following into the newly created file:
keycode 66 = Alt_L
This defines the left
option key as
alt within all X11 applications, enabling Alt based shortcuts. You need to re-start X11 to see the change.
option key stays the same though, so you cannot use it as Alt but you can still use it to type special characters such as é, ß or \ on non-US keyboards (which is
Shift+Option+7 on a German keyboard for example). It makes typing those letters more cumbersome but the user (unfortunately) has to determine which of the two functionalities is needed most for his/her daily business.
Cmd key doesn't work
Inkscape runs under X11 and is originally a Linux app, so all keyboard shortcuts are based on
Control and not
Command as in OS X. For example, Copy is ⌃C and not ⌘C. You can use an ".Xmodmap" file to switch the behaviors of Control and Command in X11 applications. See above how to create and open the .Xmodmap file. Then paste this inside:
! Switch meta and control keycode 67 = Meta_L keycode 63 = Control_L keycode 71 = Control_R clear mod2 clear control add mod2 = Meta_L add control = Control_L Control_R
Finally, in X11, make sure that the option "Enable key equivalents in X11" is unchecked and restart X11. Now ⌘C should copy, ⌘V paste etc.
Inkscape does not see some fonts (on Mac)
For Mac versions 0.47 and 0.48, Inkscape does not load fonts from '/System/Library/Fonts'. Instead, it loads fonts from '/Library/Fonts'. So if you have a font that's not showing up, and you're using one of these versions, copy the font from '/System/Library/Fonts' and paste it into '/Library/Fonts'.
Inkscape installed in some subfolder of “Applications”, does not run
Inkscape cannot be run from a folder containing strange characters in its name (such as /, ƒ, &, etc.) so if the subfolder you installed Inkscape in contains one of those, either change its name to something more conventional (spaces and accented characters are ok) or move Inkscape to "Applications".
Copy/Paste rasterizes objects
Starting with XQuartz 2.3.2, X11 has some functionality to exchange the content of the clipboard with OS X. Only, it currently does not know how to deal with vector images so it just captures the screen, i.e. creates a bitmap copy, and then pastes that. You need to deactivate this functionality in X11 preferences > Pasteboard: uncheck “Update Pasteboard when CLIPBOARD changes”. However, this will also prevent copying text from any X11 application to Mac OS X ones. It will not prevent copying text from OS X to X11.
When you just want to make a copy of an object within Inkscape, you can also use Edit menu > Duplicate (Ctrl-D) rather than Edit menu > Copy/Paste (Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V). Duplicate does not interact with the X11/OSX clipboards. For other Inkscape commands involving the system clipboards (e.g. Edit menu Paste Style, Paste Size, or Paste Path in Path menu > Path Effects) there is no alternative workaround other than changing the X11/XQuartz preferences as described above.
Inkscape fails to launch on OS X 10.8 and later
- Apple no longer includes X11/Xquartz with OS X
The first time you try to launch an X11-based application on OS X 10.8 or later, the system will notify you that you need to install XQuartz first, and provide a link to the official download site for XQuartz.
Note: To complete the installation of XQuartz, it is required to logout and log back in again (or to reboot the system). It is also recommended to reinstall XQuartz after a system upgrade.
- Apple's new GateKeeper security feature may prevent Inkscape from opening
When trying to run the newly installed application for the first time on OS X 10.8 or later, you may be prompted with a warning message saying that ""Inkscape" can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer" (or possibly ""Inkscape" is damaged and can't be opened").
If this happens, you can either (temporarily) lower the default security settings system-wide:
- Launch System Preferences from the Apple menu
- Choose "Security & Privacy" and then click the "General" tab, followed by clicking the lock icon in the corner to unlock the settings
- Look for "Allow applications downloaded from:" and choose "Anywhere"
- Accept the security warning and allow
- You can now launch any app from any location or developer
or bypass the stricter GateKeeper rules on a per-application basis:
- In the Finder, right-click (or control-click) the application in question and choose "Open"
- Click the "Open" button at the next dialog warning to launch the app anyway
Windows appear off-screen with a multiple monitor setup
This is a known Xquartz bug: due to the lack of proper support for multiple monitors, opened windows can go off-screen. To mitigate this problem and find your lost windows (you'll be able to see them in the desktop switcher preview screen), you can use the wmctrl utility. The "
xwininfo -root -children" command lists all xquartz-managed windows. It'll give you the list of windows with their id, for instance:
0x40001c (has no name): () 448x571+1714+110 +1714+110
0x400019 (has no name): () 1212x836+2132+12 +2132+12
The 1212x836 window is the main inkscape window, and, if you tried to launch the document properties window, a 448x571 window is a good fit (its id is "0x40001c"). Next, you'll have to move it back to the screen.
"wmctrl -i -r 0x40001c -e 0,2400,400,0,0" will move it to x=2400, y=400. Note that some trial-and-error might be needed to find the correct values in your case. Also, in some conditions, if you try to move a window from a screen onto another screen, xquartz will scale out the first virtual desktop to the size of both monitors while only displaying half of it on the original monitor.
How to contribute to the Inkscape project
Coding and Development
You can find information about how you can help with coding and development on the Develop page on the website.
While there is certainly a lot of coding work to be done, there are also a lot of other, non-programming tasks needed to make the project successful.
From testing Inkscape, reporting bugs and managing bug reports, to translating Inkscape or translating the website, to simply promoting Inkscape when you have a chance — all these things are vital to the growth and development of Inkscape, and the Inkscape community.
How to communicate effectively throughout the Inkscape community and avoid causing a flamewar
Inkscape prides itself on maintaining a friendly community that is passionate about Inkscape. Each member arrives here with some definite ideas about what would make an excellent SVG editor. When these ideas are discussed and some folks start taking firm positions, it is easy for arguments to get out of hand and become unproductive (possibly even driving valuable contributors away from the project).
Here are some tips for effectively communicating in the Inkscape community:
Since Inkscape developers typically judge by user consensus, an effective way to prove a point is to show a pattern of demand for the change from a range of users, or to demonstrate how your change will satisfy a large number of user requests. (This isn't to say that what the unwashed masses ask for is always correct, but there are generally strong correlations.)
Remember Inkscape's development slogan, "Patch first, discuss later." This is not just an aphorism; oftentimes the principals in an argument won't really understand all the factors until they can see the thing in practice, even if just a mockup or prototype. Presenting your ideas as a patch also bypasses the concern that others are going to have to put in the labor to implement the ideas.
- Make your argument first and foremost without comparison. Really great features can stand on their own and are obviously great from the use cases users give. Most often comparisons won't strengthen your case. In fact they can often weaken your case because there is a built up resistance to this bandwagon sort of reasoning. Many people use Inkscape to escape from the software you want to compare it with. :-)
- Don't assume that developers, users and industry professionals are mutually exclusive groups. "Itch driven" development means quite the opposite. Developers are users developing the software for their own uses. Some developers are industry professionals using Inkscape for their livelihood daily. This also means that arguments that start with generalizations about user wants and expectations have to struggle against the fact that the users are developing the software the way they want it.
- Don't assume that resistance to your idea indicates rampant disregard for non-developer-users needs and wants. Many of the developers spend large amounts of time conversing with users in person, on IRC and on the mailing list. We know when issues are important because we can hear the consensus. As anecdotal evidence most of the features I have coded have been in direct response to the needs and requests of users who came with polite and persistent concerns.
- Street cred is earned, not demanded. :-) This is just a hard fact about community life. The project needs contributors to live and thrive, and everyone loves seeing new blood getting involved, and will bend over backwards to help. The more you involve yourself; the more you give of your own blood, sweat and tears, the more the community will respond to you. The great part is that simple contributions really do matter.
- Always remember we all share common goals. If nothing else, we all want to see Inkscape made better. When a discussion feels like it's starting to get hot, it's time for the arguers to seek areas of agreement, and focus on those.
Are Inkscape's SVG documents valid SVG?
Yes. Inkscape does not yet support all features of SVG, but all files it generates are valid SVG (with the partial and temporary exception of flowed text). All standard-conforming SVG renderers show them the same as in Inkscape. If they do not, it's a bug. If this bug is in Inkscape, we will fix it (especially if you help us by reporting it!).
What is "Inkscape SVG" as opposed to "Plain SVG"?
Inkscape SVG files use the Inkscape namespace (part of the XML code) to store some extra information that Inkscape needs. Other SVG renderers will not understand this, but this is OK because it only affects how the document is edited, not how it looks. This extra info does not cause problems in SVG-compliant renderers. However, some non-compliant renderers may have trouble with it. So if you need to use a non-compliant renderer, and you're not planning to edit the file in Inkscape anymore, or if you just want to save some space, you can drop or delete this extra info. Or, you can just save as "Plain SVG", which automatically gets rid of this extra info.
What SVG features does Inkscape implement?
The only parts of SVG that Inkscape does not support are: one single filter (the tiling filter), animation (this would need a lot of fundamental changes to the user interface) and SVG fonts (those will be dropped from SVG 2.0). The rest mostly works — Inkscape 0.91 even supports rendering of properties which are part of the SVG 2.0 draft, but does not yet provide a way to edit them — although of course, there are bugs that we're always fixing. For a comparison of Inkscape and other open source SVG tools on the W3C SVG test suite, look here (may take a while for page to load).
I have manually coded SVG files. Will everything be messed up, if I load and save it with Inkscape?
Inkscape strives to avoid changing the SVG just because it does not recognize some of the SVG elements, however it *does* make changes:
- All objects will get unique "id" attributes. If already existing and unique, they will be preserved as is; otherwise a new id will be derived from the node name.
- Some sodipodi: and inkscape: namespaced metadata will be added to the beginning of document.
- If you edit a gradient, that gradient will be broken up into 2 linked gradients — one defining color vector, another one position.
- Changing any style property forces reconstructing of the whole 'style' attribute, which means CSS (not XML) comments will be lost and formatting of CSS may change.
- The formatting style of the SVG file will be changed to follow the style hardcoded into Inkscape.
There is ongoing work to allow Inkscape to better preserve hand-created SVG markup but it is a very difficult task requiring a lot of infrastructure work and will happen very gradually — but help is always appreciated.
Viewing SVG files, outside of Inkscape (like an image archive or gallery)
Most operating systems, these days, and almost all browsers, support SVG, although to varying degrees. So the need for external viewers is lessening, as technology catches up. But if you still need such a viewer, there are a few options left:
- Irfanview (http://www.irfanview.com/). Plugin is required, thumbnails available, but may display inaccurately.
- SVG Explorer Extension — displays SVG thumbnails in Windows Explorer
- Most browsers can now display SVGs, although not necessarily like an archive.
- Other possibility: Batik
Inkscape and other programs
Why is Inkscape so different from Adobe Illustrator?
In many cases, this is simply because the feature in question is not yet implemented, or is being actively worked on. But there are other reasons, too. AI is not the only game in town. Even though it currently enjoys a near-monopoly of SVG editors, there still exist, for example, CorelDraw and Xara — which are also quite different and, in the opinion of many people, superior to AI in usability. Inkscape has borrowed a lot of user interface ideas from these fine editors. It has also added many new tools and interface elements of its own. We take usability very seriously, and we often knowingly depart from the AI paradigms because we consider our approaches better. If you came from Adobe Illustrator and are having trouble with Inkscape, please read (and maybe eventually contribute to) the Inkscape for Adobe Illustrator users document on our Wiki.
Why did Inkscape split from Sodipodi?
Inkscape started as a code fork of Sodipodi. The main reasons were differences in objectives and in development approach. Inkscape's objective is to be a fully compliant SVG editor, whereas for Sodipodi SVG is more a means-to-an-end of being a vector illustration tool. Inkscape's development approach emphasizes open developer access to the codebase, as well as using and contributing back to 3rd party libraries and standards such as HIG, CSS, etc. in preference to custom solutions. Reusing existing shared solutions helps developers to focus on the core work of Inkscape.
Is Inkscape, or SVG, intended to replace Flash?
While SVG is often identified as a "Flash replacement", SVG has a huge range of other uses outside that of vector animation. Replacing Flash is not one of Inkscape's primary intents. If SVG can replace Flash, and Inkscape can help, that's great, but there's a lot more to SVG than web animation that is worth exploring. (See also SMIL.)
What License is Inkscape released under?
GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991 . In short, this means you are free to use and distribute Inkscape for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, without any restrictions. You are also free to modify the program as you wish, but with the only restriction that if you distribute the modified version, you must provide access to the source code of the distributed version.
How are the Inkscape name and logo protected?
The Inkscape name is trademarked under U.S. Trademark Law, and held and administered by the Software Freedom Conservancy. Our policy is available on the website, and describes the conditions under which you can use our name and logo. We've aimed to make our requirements reasonable and friendly: We want to avoid things like other groups claiming to be or represent us when they don't, or to distribute our software in ways that aren't consistent with our license.
The logo is similarly trademarked and covered by our trademark policy. We're cool with people creating derivative works that help promote Inkscape or make it fit in with a given user interface style, but we don't want to see it abused by companies that might incorporate it into their own logos. For merchandising, you are welcomed to use our unmodified logo; for anything else, please contact the Inkscape Board for permission.