Getting back to my previous post from the Inkscape Experiments, I demonstrated how to create a beta flash using the Pattern Along Path effect in Inkscape for your comics and manga. Just in case you thought I’ve exhausted this topic, I just discover an extension in Inkscape that does the Pattern Along Path effect in a cleaner, more permanent fashion. I will post a smaller tutorial on this in the next edition of Inkscape Experiments. In this edition of Inkscape Experiments, I will show you how to clone and spin paths in Inkscape. Allow me to provide you with a visual demonstration of what we’ll achieve:For more visual learners, here’s the complementary video, posted on YouTube:
Introducing the Create Tiled Clones Window
Per the caption, I created a simple 2-point path, and cloned and spun it to create the effect that you see here. To me, I see massive potential for this technique. Imagine some of the things you could do? So how did I achieve this? I used the Create Tiled Clones window. You can find the Create Tiled Clones window by clicking the menu bar, and selecting Edit > Clone > Create Tiled Clones…
What does the Create Tiled Clones window do? It allows you to clone any selected path or object and apply transformations to those clones. These transformations include shift (translation), scale, rotation, blur, opacity (which is really nice!), and color variation. How Inkscape treats cloned paths after the fact can be determined within Inkscape’s Preferences. (Go to the Menu Bar and select File > Inkscape Preferences… or Shift-Control-P)
How to Clone and Spin Paths
Let’s walk through the process of cloning and spinning a simple path in Inkscape. With the Bezier Tool, create a simple path that runs horizontally. If you need to change the stroke or fill, that can be done using the Fill and Stroke Palette. Keeping the new path selected, open up the Create Tiled Clones window by clicking the menu bar, and selecting Edit > Clone > Create Tiled Clones… With the Create Tiled Clones window now open, click on the Rotation tab. Let’s take a look at the settings we’ll use:
Since the new path runs horizontally, we’ll enter a number in the Angle Per Row number field. If the path ran vertically, we would enter a number in the Per Column number field. In the bottom portion of the Create Tiled Clones window, in the Rows side (left-side) of Rows, columns, enter the number of clones you want to generate. The Columns number field will stay a 1 because we only want to create this spinning effect once. To generate the clone and spin effect, click create.
An Issue with Objects
I want to make a very important note when it comes to cloning and spinning objects in Inkscape. Objects and paths will behave differently when rotating via the Create Tiled Clones settings. I believe this is due to Inkscape determining the centers of both paths and objects differently. This can be easily remedied by clicking on the Shift tab within the Create Tiled Clones window. If your object is laid out horizontally, enter -100 in both the Shift X Per Column number field and Shift Y Per Row number field. These settings will work for both horizontal and vertical objects.
Clone and Spin Paths in Inkscape to Create Ray Bursts
Let’s use Clone and Spin Paths in Inkscape to help us create a common design element that you’ll find in some manga and comics, the ray burst:
Within Inkscape, use the Rectangle Tool to create a thin rectangle that runs vertically. Convert the rectangle into an object by going into Inkscape’s menu bar and selecting Path > Object to Path. (Shift-Control-C)
Collapse the bottom end of the rectangle, turning it into an elongate triangle. Then we’ll duplicate that base triangle and flip it. Using the Node Tool, click and drag across the bottom nodes. Click the Join Selected Nodes button, usually local under the menu bar, to merge the two selected nodes, creating a singular point.
Duplicate the newly created triangle using the keystroke Control-D. Then flip the duplicate vertically by clicking the Flip Selected Objects Vertically. (Or use the keystroke V.) Use the Selector Tool to drag the flipped duplicate in a downward direction, until the points of both triangles touch each other. Select both triangles and group them using the keystroke Control-G.
With the group selected, open up the Create Tiled Clones window by clicking the menu bar, and selecting Edit > Clone > Create Tiled Clones… Click the Shift tab and set both the Shift X – Per Column and the Shift Y – Per Row to -100%. Then click the Rotation tab, and set the angle of the Per Row to 22.2%. Click the Create button to generate the clones.
I know the angle of the Per Row sounds arbitrary, but this is what works for this tutorial. Feel free to adjust the angle to whatever looks good. If you don’t like what you see, you can always click the Remove button to delete the cloned objects and adjust the angle. When using the Create Tiled Clones window, you’ll often find yourself playing with the settings looking for something that visually looks better.
After generating your clones, and creating your ray burst, we’ll crop everything inside a rectangle via a clipping path. (Most times you’ll be working within a rectangular area.) Select everything with the Selector Tool, and group your objects using the keystroke Control-G. Use the Rectangle Tool to create a new rectangle on top of the ray burst. This rectangle is what will be used as your new clipping path.
I want to note that you don’t need to group your objects in order to place them inside a clipping path. The key is having the path or object you wish to use as the clipping path is the top object in your stack. Otherwise, Inkscape will just use another path or object as the clipping path. I chose to group my objects before applying the clipping path because it’s easier to select and drag around.
To use the rectangle as a clipping path for the ray burst, select both your ray burst group and the rectangle. Go to Inkscape’s menu bar and click Object > Clip > Set.
Now to turn this into a Japanese war flag, create a perfect circle with the Ellipse Tool, holding the Shift key to draw it from the object’s center and holding the Control key to constrain it. To center both the ray burst and the circle, use the Align and Distribute panel. To open the Align and Distribute panel, use the keystroke Shift-Control-A. Select both the circle and the ray burst. Inside the Align section of the Align and Distribute panel, click both the Center on Vertical Axis button and the Center on Horizontal Axis button.
All that’s needed is to drop in a little bunny warrior in a diaper, and you have another piece of vector art that will be turning heads everywhere. Play around with this technique and the numerous other settings within the Create Tiled Clones window. You’ll find yourself playing around with Inkscape for hours.
The Inkscape SVG file created for this tutorial is here: Inkscape SVG workfile.
Don’t have Inkscape? Download it for free at Inkscape.org.
A few more notes: The warrior bunny is all Inkscape on top of a sketch drawn in Corel Painter.
As much as I hate GIMP, I have a habit of being too forgiving towards open source projects. I’ve been using a version of 2.8.4, compiled as a native Mac application for the images in this article. This current version has been a vast improvement over previous versions that have only worked in Apple’s X11 environment. Even though I’ve found many of the common features that Gimp shares with PhotoShop a bit cumbersome, Gimp is able to do a few things better PhotoShop.
Radial placement with Tile Clones – http://inkscape.org/doc/tips/tutorial-tips.html