Inkscape Experiments: Creating Beta Flashes


Rectangular Beta Flashes Using Patter Along Path Effect

Using a rectangle or square to create a beta flash will be more of a challenge. The example below will show why. Unlike an ellipse, applying a pattern to a square in Inkscape will not give you the look of a continuous pattern. Yet there is a way around this issue.

1.) With your rectangle still selected, create a new node with the Node Tool by double-clicking next to the node where the pattern begins and ends. This node we’ll refer to as the start/end node.

Steps 1 and 2 of creating a rectangular beta flash

2.) Drag the start/end node with the Node Editor down towards the half-way point of the left-hand side of your rectangle. (You can also select your start/end node and move it with the arrow keys.This action will help to fake a continuous look in the pattern.

Steps 3 and 4 for creating a rectangular beta flash

3.) To even out the upper left-hand corner rectangle, move the new node to where the start/end node originated.


4.) You can see we’ve created a new problem. Where the start/end node is located, the pattern looks like it’s ballooned. I have as of yet to find a satisfactory solution at this point. What we’ll do is to use another work-around to even-out the pattern on the left-hand side of the rectangle.

Steps 5 and 6 of creating a square beta flash

Create new nodes above and below the start/end node by double-clicking on the path. Then select the new nodes and the start/end node, and move them left-ward until the pattern evens out on the inside of the rectangle.

5.) Now you should see just a bulge on the outside of the rectangle. The easiest way to remedy this is with a clipping path. For those of you newer to vector-based software like Inkscape, a clipping path acts much like a mask in PhotoShop. Whatever you place within the clipping path will be visible. Any objects outside its edges will not be visible.

Create a new rectangle over your current rectangle. The new rectangle will become your clipping path. Make sure that  it’s positioned correctly over your rectangle pattern, and it’s just big enough to crop-off the edges. I also want to note, that your new clipping path needs to be above your rectangular beta flash, otherwise Inkscape will use the wrong path as the clipping path.


With both paths selected, click in the Object menu, select Clip, click Set. This will convert your new rectangle into a clipping path and hide everything outside of the clipping path.

I also want to note that if the path that you plan to use a your clipping path has any type of stroke, Inkscape will default to applying a black stroke to the clipping path. You can remedy this by removing the stroke from your clipping path before or after you convert it. You achieve this by opening your Fill and Stroke pallet (Shift+Control+F), clicking  the Stroke tab, and click the No Paint box, which will look like an X.

Fill and Stroke pallet

I realize this doesn’t look like much of a beta flash, but now you have the basics on how we’ll create a more useful and pointed Beta Flash. Next up: Creating a pointed Circular Beta Flash.