A crash course in inkscape version 1.2 header image

A Crash Course in Inkscape

In this article, I am giving you a crash course in Inkscape (version 1.2 release candidate as of writing). This tutorial is designed to quickly teach you the basics of Inkscape and start creating vector art with this free, open-source program.

Updated as of May 13, 2022

Given the size and scope that this crash course, I had to create this table of contents. If you want to focus solely on one aspect of Inkscape, you have that option. I want to get you up and running, not bogged down in text. Here’s a breakdown of my crash course:

Prologue: My Relationship with Inkscape

May I admit to something?

I’m a casual fan of Inkscape, but not a regular user. In fact, I’ve been using Adobe Illustrator for roughly 20 years. I’m the most comfortable using Illustrator. And I’m the most efficient in that program.

But I am a fan of options. I’ve always felt that Inkscape possesses a lot of untapped potential. In the past, Inkscape has always felt clunky and like an afterthought on the Mac. But I decided to invest some time in learning Inkscape due to the hope that Inkscape will achieve the same level of polish and usefulness as Blender 3D. Blender 3D is a true diamond in the open-source movement. As of writing, I believe that Inkscape currently has the capacity to compete with any vector program in the market.

 Why Inkscape Version 1.2?

This crash course in Inkscape will be based on version 1.2 Release Candidate, which is easily accessible off of Inkscape’s official site. Don’t worry about it being a “release candidate”, it’s been pretty stable since the alpha version. Version 1.2 is the future and the future will be here soon. I don’t expect there to be any massive changes between the release candidate and the final release. My desire is to try to keep this page up to date with whatever the latest version is.

The previous version of this page was based upon a much older version of Inkscape, and was way out of date. That was due to neglect and being busy with other projects.

What is Inkscape?

Inkscape is a free, open source, yet fully-featured vector art program. Vector art is art based upon paths that are resolution independent. This means you can scale and shirk your art without any degration or pixelation.

Inkscape is one of the most robust and useful Adobe Illustrator alternatives the open-source movement has ever created. Compared to other open-source vector drawing programs that I’ve played with, there is no comparison. Inkscape can be used in all major computer operating systems (Linux, Mac, and Windows), and can import and export to many major file formats. (SVG, AI, EPS, PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, etc.)

My Experiences with Inkscape

After taking the time to learn how to use Inkscape, I’ve found it to be a potentially useful tool in my CG arsenal. Here’s one of my first real works created in Inkscape, you may have seen this already:

Chris Hilbig.com State of the Website graphic created using Inkscape and PhotoShop.
© 2013 Chris Hilbig

In all honesty, only the line art was done in Inkscape. The coloring and effects were done in PhotoShop. (I’m sure that the color could have been done in Inkscape.) During the creation of this piece, I was learning on the fly. At some points, things just dragged along just because I didn’t know how to achieve certain techniques that I could easily pull off in Illustrator within Inkscape.

When I first started playing with Inkscape, I was only able to run it under Apple’s X11 environment. X11 is Apple’s spin on XFree86 Project’s X Windows System, which is the foundation for Linux’s GUI interface. X11 follows the same keystroke conventions as Windows. On top of that, Inkscape’s interface was nothing like Adobe Illustrator’s. The way Inkscape approached vector drawing was very different then what I was used to.

This latest release (as of writing) of Inkscape starts up easily on the Mac without the need for X11. This is a massive step up for Mac users like myself.

Introducing Inkscape’s Start Screen

If you haven’t played around with Inkscape in a while, you’ll be greeted with a startup screen containing three main tabs; Quick Setup, Supported By You, and Time to Draw. You already have a good idea of what “Supported By You” is about.

Quick Setup

Quick Setup covers the basics of Inkscape’s user experience.

  • Canvas allows you to choose how the canvas will be stylized.
  • Keyboard allows you to choose your keyboard layout or the collection of keystrokes that you wish to use. If you happen to be a veteran of other vector programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel DRAW, etc, you can change the keystroke set to match your app of choice.
  • Appearance allows users to set the style of widgets that they wish to use and the theme of the user interface, Dark or Light.

Time to Draw

The Time to Draw tab is an excellent addition. It contains collections of presets for documents of various sizes for common projects for prints, screen, etc. Time to Draw tab also, by default, lists your most recent

Inkscape’s Interface

To get an understanding of Inkscape, we need to get to know Inkscape’s interface. Let’s take a look:

Main Tools: This is the bar where your basic tools are located. (Selector, Node Tool, Zoom Tool, etc.)

Tool Settings: Where you’ll adjust the settings for your main tools.

Rulers: Most CG artists are familiar with rulers. A click-drag from either ruler will let you create a guide.

Canvas: The area that contains your page. This is also the area where you’ll create your paths, objects, and raster art.

Page: The viewable area that will hold your artwork and will be seen whenever you export or print your documents. Any objects outside the page will not print or be exported.

Dock: This will store your palettes to adjust different settings.

Command Bar: Contains shortcuts/buttons to many of the items/settings within the menus.

Color Pallet: One of the places to select your colors. You can use your scroll wheel to scroll through your color palette back and forth. (You can also use the Fill and Stroke palette to select your colors, located inside the Command Bar.) To the right of the Color Pallet are a set of three buttons. The two arrow buttons allow you to scroll through the color pallet. The last button with the three lines will allow you to select which color pallet you wish to use.

Status Bar: This has gobs of information in one glance. The Status Bar tells you the color an object is using. You can adjust the opacity of an object or path. It will show you which layer you’re on, as well as lock and hide/show your current layer. The Status Bar also provides useful tips. It tells you your cursor’s coordinates. You can also adjust the zoom and rotation of the page. (Quick tip: Place your cursor over the number field and you can use the scroll wheel to adjust the zoom or thee rotation.)

Getting Around Inkscape

Let’s go over some useful keystrokes (using the default set of keystrokes) and mousing to help us move around Inkscape:


  • To pan or maneuver around the canvas — Click-hold-middle mouse button/scroll wheel and drag or Spacebar-left mouse button and drag
  • Zoom in: + (plus) key; Command/Control-Right-Click
  • Zoom out: (minus) key; Shift-Right-Click
  • You can also zoom in and out using Command/Control-Option-Mouse Wheel

Zoom Presets

  • Zoom 1:1 — 1 key
  • Zoom 1:2 — 2 key
  • Zoom to selection — 3 key
  • Zoom to drawing — 4 key
  • Zoom to page — 5 key
  • Zoom to page width — 6 key

Moving Objects Around in Inkscape

  • Right-Click makes a Contextual menu to copy, cut, paste, and some advance options.
  • If you want to duplicate any vector object use Command/Control-D.
  • To shift between layers, go to the Layers menu or use the keystroke Command/Control-Page Up or Command/Control-Page Down.
  • To move a layer upward, use the keystroke Command/Control-Shift-Page Up
  • To move a layer downward, use the keystroke Command/Control-Shift-Page Down
  • To bring up the Selector — Spacebar or S key
  • To move a selection to the layer above, Shift-Page Up button.
  • To move a selection down a layer, Shift-Page Down button.
  • To raise a selection to up the stack, Page Up button.
  • To lower a selection to down the stack, Page Down button.
  • To raise a selection to the top of the stack, Home button.
  • To lower a selection to the bottom of the stack, End button.
  • Ctrl key to restrict movement of a selection to horizontally or vertically.
  • Hold the Shift key to disable snapping while dragging around a selection.
  • Holding the Shift key while click and draging with the left mouse button will allow you to select an object. But you will need to click and drag over the entire object otherwise it won’t be selected.
  • Arrow keys can be used to nudge a selection.
  • Left-Clicking a selection will give you handles to resize it. Clicking that same selection again gives you handles to rotate and skew the object.

Inkscape’s Main Tools Bar

Here is Inkscape’s Tools Main Bar containing your core set of tools:

Inkscape 1.2.x Main Tools Bar

Selector Tool: (S or Spacebar) You can select objects with the Selector Tool. But you can also use the Selector tool to resize. With a second left-click, you can rotate and skew the selection.

Node Tool: (N) The Node Tool in Inkscape is pretty versatile. It lets you select nodes and adjust their handles to adjust the paths. Click and drag a section between nodes to adjust the curve. Shift-C will let you adjust the node’s handles independently of each other. (That’s if the node is set to Smooth/Symmetrical.) If your node already has an independent handle, Shift-C will turn your node into a Corner. When your path or object has a gradient, either within the fill or stroke, the Node tool is also capable of adjusting the gradient handles without the need to switch to the Gradient Tool.

Rectangle Tool: (R) The Rectangle Tool lets you create rectangles and squares. When you create your rectangle, it isn’t a path, it’s an object. When a rectangle is selected, you’ll see some handles at three of the corners. The squares let you resize your rectangle. The circle in the upper right-hand corner will split into two circles, but they will let you adjust the roundness of the rectangle’s corners until it turns into an ellipse. To convert your rectangle into an editable path, go to the Menu Bar >> Path >> Object to Path. Or use the keystroke, Control/Command-Shift-C.

An Inkscape rectangle. Click to enlarge.
An Inkscape rectangle. Click to enlarge.

Ellipse/Arc Tool: (E) The Ellipse/Arc Tool is for all of your elliptical needs. There will be two square handles to adjust the width and height. You’ll also find a circle handle on the side of your object. That handle will separate into two circle handles that can be used to partition off how much of the ellipse you’ll want to use for an arc or curve. The fill within the ellipse will remain up to the two circle handles. Dragging either of the circle handles past to center of the ellipse object will create a corner that extends to the midpoint. To convert an ellipse object into a path, go to the Menu Bar, select Path, then Object to Path. Or use the keystroke, Shift-Control/Command-C.

Inkscape - Arc/ellipse tool and a break down of an ellipse in Inkscape
An ellipse in Inkscape.

Star/Polygon Tool: (Shift-8) The Star/Polygon Tool creates objects that can be formed into stars or polygons. You’ll find two handles on your newly created objects, one to adjust the points, and the other to adjust the inside corners. The settings, under the Menu Bar, will let you change the number of corners, the Spoke Ratio ~ a.k.a. the depth of the internal corners, the roundness of the corners, and there’s a setting that lets you turn your polygon into wacky abstractions. There’s also a reset button in case things get a little funky.

Star/Polygon tool with its handles in Inkscape

3D Box Tool: (X) This tool will let you create live 3D boxes in Inkscape. When you create your first 3D box, you’ll find handles for all three vanishing points; X, Y, and Z. There are also handles on the box that allows you to adjust the width, depth, and height. The box can be directly edited as paths with the Node Tool.

The 3D Box Tool allows you to work in 1-point, 2-point, and 3-point perspectives. Within the tool settings, you can adjust the angle of the vanishing point for each axis and you can swap between making a specific vanishing point finite or infinite. This means you can either adjust your vanishing point manually or your vanishing point can be isometric (or have that flat look for a specific axis).

Spiral Tool: (I) For all of your spiral creation needs. You’ll find two different handles on your new spiral. One handle on the inside and one on the outside.

Bezier Tool: (B) For creating bezier curves and straight lines. You have to click and drag to pull out a node’s handles. Handles can’t be adjusted on the fly like in Adobe Illustrator. Use the Node Tool to tweak nodes and curves. To continue a path, click on top of the node you want to continue from. Then you can add more to your path. To close an open path, use the keystroke Shift-Return.

Freehand Tool: (P) The Freehand Tool lets you create editable paths, ideally with a graphics tablet. You can continue a path by starting at a node.

Calligraphy Tool: (C) The Calligraphy Tool lets you create lines with varying widths. The end result isn’t a skeletal stroke, but a newly created object with just a fill. The Calligraphy Tool can be used with a graphics tablet to paint, ink, and draw with. It has different presets that create various effects as you draw. I recommend clicking the Path menu >> Simplify (Ctrl-L) to reduce your nodes and smooth your strokes.

Type Tool: (T) With the text tool you can click in a spot and start typing or click and drag to create a text box reminiscent of your favorite page layout software. The Tool Settings above have all of the necessary settings to manipulate and adjust your text.

Gradient Tool: (G) The Gradient Tool can be used to apply gradients to your type, objects, and paths. Tool Settings allow you to set the type of gradient that you’re using, pick a gradient preset, whether you want to link to a gradient preset (allowing you to change the gradation of multiple objects at once), if you wish to flip the gradient, how to repeat it, choose which stop to edit (color), the offset (location) of your stops not on the ends), and if you want to add or delete a specific stop.

I think the Gradient Tool truly shines as a tool to adjust the gradient within your object. Each gradient has a path with two main handles (for each color/stop), which can be used to position where you want each color to begin. Double-clicking with the Gradient Tool on that gradient path will allow you to add new colors to your gradient. Fill and Stroke Pallet will allow you to further manipulate your gradient, changing both the color and transparency.

Mesh Tool: The Mesh Tool allows users to create gradient meshes within an object’s fills or strokes. Set the number of Rows and Columns within the Tool Settings. Then double-click in the fill or stroke to create your mesh. Double-clicking on a path within the mesh will create a new path that will run horizontally or vertically. The nodes on the mesh can be assigned their own color and have handles that manipulate the color’s spread.

Dropper Tool: (D) The Dropper works just like any other dropper tool in the sense that it can pick up colors anywhere on your canvas. If you have another object selected while using the Dropper Tool, it’ll change the fill to that color. Shift-Click will change the stroke color. Holding the Alt/Option key changes the color to the inverse of the color that you selected.

Fill Tool: (U) The Fill Tool creates new vector objects based on the area that you click in. For example, if you click within an object, you create a new vector shape based upon the bounds created by the stroke. Shapes can also be created within closed-off empty spaces.

Tweak Tool: (W) The tweak tool actually has quite a few tricks. You can push and pull paths and objects, shrink, roughen, shift the object’s color, and blur the object. This same tool allows you to manipulate groups of objects, similar to the symbol manipulation tools in Adobe Illustrator.

Spray Tool: (A) The Spray Tool duplicates the last selected object in clusters as you drag your cursor across the canvas. The Spray Tool also has options that scatter and rotate your duplicates.

Eraser Tool: (E) The Eraser Tool will create a temporary path that will delete any object beneath it. The object doesn’t need to be selected to be affected. Plus you can use a pressure-sensitive tablet with the eraser tool.

Connector Tool: (O) The Connector Tool is great for people who create diagrams. Basically, the Connector Tool’s sole use is to let you create lines that link to your objects. Once those lines are created, they’ll remain attached to your objects. If you have two squares linked together, and you choose to move one of them, the line will stretch/squash, and follow the square you move.

Geometric Construction Tool: (Shift-F9) This tool is specifically designed for folks in engineering and scientific drawing. (a.k.a. ~ you use CAD software on a day-to-day basis) For the rest of us, how to use it isn’t so simple. I wrote a breakdown of how to use the Geometric Construction tool to read.

Measure Objects Tool: (M) The Measure Objects Tool seems to be designed to be used in conjunction with the Geometric Construction Tool. When you click and drag it across your vectors, it’ll mark (in whatever units you choose for your document) and measures the distance of spaces between paths.

The Measure Objects Tool being used  in Inkscape 1.2
The Measure Objects Tool in action.

Zoom Tool: (Z) This is self-explanatory for most of you. The Zoom Tool lets you zoom in and out (when holding the shift key) of your drawing area. You can also use the – (minus) and + (plus) keys to zoom.

Page Tool: (*) The Page Tool in Inkscape allows you to adjust and create new pages on the fly. A Page in Inkscape is the area that will contain the actual artwork that you wish to export for print or screen.

For more information on the tools from the Main Tools Bar, as well as some more useful keyboard shortcuts, check out Inkscape keyboard and mouse reference.

Useful Tools in the Inkscape’s Command Bar

Next up in our fun-filled Crash Course in Inkscape, we’re going to learn about many of the useful palettes that you will be using on a daily basis. And when I say useful, I mean important. These palettes can be accessed in Inkscape’s Command Bar. The Command Bar also has some buttons for redundant actions like Save, Copy, Cut, etc. If you’re unable to guess the keystrokes, you can find those commands in Inkscape’s File and Edit menus.

Fill and Stroke Palette

Inkscape's Fill and Stroke button

You will be using the Fill and Stroke Palette constantly. It’s structured much like any other color palette in a vector program. For both the Fill and Stroke, you can choose no color, a flat color, a linear gradient, a radial gradient, pattern fill, do a swatch fill, or make it undefined. (I’m not sure what exactly that means yet.) The Fill and Stroke palette gives you tabs for all of the major color spectrums to use plus a color wheel (which I love).

Along with color, the palette lets you change the transparency of your fill or stroke with the Alpha Slider. (Which controls the transparency of the color.) Inkscape also has an Opacity Slider, which controls the opacity of the entire object. Objects can be easily blurred with the Blur Slider.

In the upper right-hand corner of the Fill and Stroke palette, you’ll notice two strange buttons, the icons look like hearts. Both of these buttons let you choose which Fill-Rule you want to use.

The heart shape with the hole in it (on the left-hand side) will apply the Even-odd Fill-Rule to your object. What this means is that if your object has a path that overlaps itself, the areas where it overlaps will be a hole or empty space.

The solid-looking heart, on the right-hand side, uses the Non-zero Rule. What this means is that in order to have space or gaps within an object, that space has to be created with a sub-path. The sub-path has to create a space that Inkscape considers “outside” the path. You’re using the sub-path to poke a hole into your vector object. It’s what happens when you overlap two objects and apply Difference or Exclusion to them. For a slightly better explanation, you can read up on the Stroke and Fill palette’s Fill-Rule Attribute.

The Stroke Style tab is almost identical to any other stroke style palette in any other vector program. The only major difference that I can think of is that Adobe Illustrator lets you set the size of the gaps and dashes in its Stroke Style palette. Inkscape only gives you an option to offset the pattern. But Inkscape has a large array of pattern presets, so this may not be a huge deal-breaker.

Inkscape’s Layers Palette

Inkscape's Layers Pallet button

Yes, Inkscape does have layers. You can toggle between them within the Layers Palette. The Layers Pallet does a few other major functions that most of us would expect from any serious graphics program: creation and deletion of layers, named layers, lock, hide, Blend Modes, and Opacity. You can also move layers up and down the stack by easily dragging and dropping or with the arrow buttons. As a bonus, you can also nest layers within layers via drag and drop.

But there are keystrokes to move layers up and down the stack. (Which can also be found in the Layers menu.):

  • To move a layer up, Command/Ctrl-Shift-Page Up
  • To move a layer down, Command/Ctrl-Shift-Page Down
  • To move a layer to the top of the stack, Command/Ctrl-Shift-Home
  • To move a layer to the bottom of the stack, Command/Ctrl-Shift-End

Much like in PhotoShop, Inkscape has keystrokes to toggle between layers. (Which can also be found in the Layers menu):

  • Command/Ctrl-Page Up: to move up a layer.
  • Command/Ctrl-Page Down: to move down a layer

You can easily copy, cut, and paste paths and objects between layers in Inkscape. But you can just as easily move selections between layers. Those options can be found in the Layer menu >> Move Selection to Layer Above (Shift-Page Up) and Layer menu > Move Selection to Layer Below (Shift-Page Down).

Align and Distribute Palette

Inkscape’s Align and Distribute Palette is much like any other similar align and distribute palette. Inkscape 1.2’s version takes has more features and is expanded to three tabs. Align, Grid, and Circular.

Align Tab

The Align Section

Within the Align Section of the Align Tab, you can align your objects relative to the last selected, first selected, biggest object, smallest object, the page, the drawing, and the selection area. Inkscape even gives you the option to treat multiple selections as a group.

There’s a new option, labeled as Alignment handles with a third click, that creates a new set of handles after you click a selected group of objects for a third time with the Selector Tool. These handles allow you to quickly align your selection on screen.

You can align along the most extreme of a specific edge. For example, if you have a group of three squares, and you click on the Align left edges of objects to the right edge of the anchor, Inkscape will align all of the square’s left edges along with the object with the most extreme right edge.

Another neat feature is that Inkscape allows you to align with text baselines. This can be extremely beneficial if you feel the need to align separate pieces of text by hand.

Distribute Section

The Distribute Section of the Align and Distribute palette specializes in spacing. It allows Inkscape to space your selections based on specific edges, the objects’ centers, or you can space the gaps between objects equally. Text also can also have its baselines distributed.

At the bottom of the Distribute section of the Align and Distribute Palette are two strange-looking buttons that modify the distribution of objects in a non-uniformed way.

Rearrange Section

The Rearrange section may not be a set of buttons that you’ll use often. They seem to useful if you’re mainly looking for some randomness in your vector art. I’ll list the options that it offers:

  • Nicely arrange connected network: When you select a group of overlapping objects and click the button, Inkscape will spread them out and evenly space your selections.
  • Exchange positions of selected objects – selection order: This will swap the locations of object based upon the order of selection.
  • Exchange positions of selected objects – stacking order: This will swap the locations of object based upon the stacking order of your objects. But this button will not swap objects within the actual object stack.
  • Exchange positions of selected objects – rotate around center point: This button will swap positions in a circular fashion based upon the center of your selection.
  • Randomize centers in both dimensions – Visually speaking, this button causes selected objects to be randomly placed or distributed. The distribution is limited to the relative perimeter of the selection.
  • Unclump objects – What this button does is position your selections based on of the average distance between objects’ edges. The more you click the Unclump objects button the more equalized the distance between edges.
Remove Overlaps Section

I think Remove Overlaps is a useful section of the Align and Distribute Pallet. You’ll find numeric fields, one for the minimum horizontal gap between objects (represented by H), and another for the minimum vertical gap between objects (represented by V). Both of the numbers are in units of pixels. The button to the right of these numeric fields will space your selections based on what you entered in the numeric fields.

Align Nodes

This section allows you to align and distribute your nodes in the same fashion as your vector objects.

Grid Tab

This section will provide you with options to arrange your vector objects in a grid-like fashion. The number of Rows and Columns can be set. This tab also gives you the option to either fit your objects in the selection box or to set the spacing between each object.

Circular Tab

This tab will require an ellipse object in your group. You can use the options within this tab to arrange your objects based on the ellipse in your selection.

Other Things to Know

Now I’m going to go over some commonly used and necessary tips.

Grouping Objects

Grouping and ungrouping vector objects are pretty commonly done in most vector programs. To group selections, click in the Menu Bar > Object > Group, or you can use the keystroke Command/Ctrl-G. To Ungroup a collection of objects click in the menu bar > Object > Ungroup, or you can use the keystroke Shift-Command/Ctrl-G.

Object to Path

By this point, you’ll already know about specific objects you can create in Inkscape, and that they can be filled and stroked like paths. (ie – squares, circles, stars, 3D boxes, spirals, text, etc.) Eventually, you’ll want to manipulate these objects further or merge them with other paths or objects. To convert any object into an edible path, click in the Menu Bar > Path > Object to Path. Or you can use the keystroke Shift-Command/Ctrl-C.

Stroke to Path

Stroke to Path is another common action in most vector programs that allows you to convert any path with a stroke into a path itself. You can find this in the Menu Bar > Path > Stroke to Path. Or you can use the keystroke Command/Ctrl-Atl-C.

Boolean Operations

Boolean operations are common actions used in most vector programs to manipulate vector objects. You can find these in the Menu Bar > Path.


  • Union: Ctrl +
  • Difference: Ctrl –
  • Intersection: Ctrl *
  • Exclusion: Ctrl ^
  • Division: Ctrl /
  • Cut Path: Ctrl Alt /

Manipulating Objects

  • Tap the Spacebar while dragging a selection to duplicate it. Holding down the Spacebar while dragging a selection will create an effect similar to the Spray Tool.
  • To add nodes to any path while using the Node Tool, just double-click on a path.
  • To delete a node, select a node and tap the Delete key.
  • To make node handles work independently of each other, use the keystroke Shift C
  • To duplicate any path, use the keystroke Ctrl D.
  • To create a clipping path, select two paths, and go into the Menu Bar >> Object >> Clip >> Set.
  • To release a clipping path, go into the Menu Bar >> Object >> Clip >> Release.

Exporting to Other Applications

In Inkscape, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is the file format used by Inkscape. By default, Inkscape uses its own variation of the SVG format, Inkscape SVG. Inkscape SVG files contain data specific to Inkscape and its features. Inkscape does export to standard SVG (Plain SVG) format and compressed variations of SVG.

Export Pallete

Art created in Inkscape can be saved in numerous other file formats, including pdf, eps, and ps (PostScript). If you plan to go back and forth between Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator, I recommend using PDF format. As of writing, PDF makes the best transition between programs.

When exporting to another file format, you will use the Export Pallete to get the job done. This palette will provide you the option to either export a single image or a batch export. In the single image tab, you can export from a document, page, selection or a custom area. A batch export allows you to do multiple exports from your selections, layers, or pages. The Export Pallete allows you to set the size, resolution, and file format that you wish to use.

If you’re not so worried about your layers, you can easily export them to TIFF or PNG file. The downside to that is that you’ll be working with a flattened, rasterized version of your image with some transparency. (If you haven’t created any background in your image yet.) When I was working on the header for the State of the Site post, I came to the decision to treat it like line art in Photoshop, and set the blend mode to Multiply. I was able to quickly color it. For the webbing, I duplicated the layer, set the blend to normal, locked the transparent pixels, and colored the webbing with the Brush tool in PhotoShop.

A Brief Note about Eporting to XCF & SVG Formats

Now if you have plans to export your work into Adobe PhotoShop or GIMP for further work, that’s not so straightforward. Unfortunately, Inkscape doesn’t directly export to PSD or GIMP’s native file format XCF. The previous version of Inkscape can export to XCF, but with the help of GIMP. As of writing, I haven’t figured out how to make this happen via Inkscape 1.2 beta and GIMP.

There is a SVG plugin for PhotoShop, but it takes a while for it to convert your SVG file. I haven’t played with the latest trial, but it’s around $300 USD.



  • May 13, 2022 — “Crash Course in Inkscape” gets a revamp for upcoming version 1.2 release.
  • April 21, 2014 — Updated Wikipedia link. (Special thanks to Francesc Dorca.) Also cleaned up some spelling and grammar. 
  • April 19, 2013 — I found a way to enable saving to XCF in Inkscape on Windows.
  • April 17, 2013 — Confirmed that XCF can be enabled in Inkscape on Fedora by simply installing Gimp.
  • April 6, 2013 — Special thanks to Alexandre Prokoudine of http://libregraphicsworld.org for his suggestions and corrections in regards to spelling, grammar, the Node tool’s ability to edit gradients, and the possibility of XCF export.