Inkscape tips and tricks

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Inkscape tips and tricks

Postby NotQuiteInsane on Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:19 am

Hi guys - it's been a while... :)

I've been playing about with Inkscape a little recently (though without my Wacom ArtPad - the power brick has gone AWOL), and came up with a quick trick for quickly creating speech-bubbles:

1. Open the Layers window (Layer -> Layers... or Ctrl-Shift-L) and add a new layer. Call it "Speech Bubbles" and set Position to "Above Current". Create another layer called "Speech Bubble Text" and set its position to "Above Current" too. Select the Text layer and add your text, then switch back to the Bubbles layer.
2. Draw two or more bubbles around your text using the standard tools -- ellipse, rectangle, etc. -- don't worry about the colour for now. Overlap them where you want the bubbles to combine. Add small arrows from the bubble to the relevant character by adding a triangle using the Bezier Curves And Straight Lines tool (Shift F6). Make sure you click the first point at the end to close the path.
3. Select all the bubbles in a particular group (i.e. what one character is saying in one particular panel) and select Path -> Union (keyboard shortcut is Ctrl-Shift-= -- i.e. Ctrl-+). Do this for all the bubbles. Alternatively you can apply Path->Union to all your speech bubbles, but then you won't be able to change them individually later. To maintain more control, duplicate the layer (Ctrl-C, New Layer, select the layer, Ctrl-V, hide the original layer -- unless there's a quicker way) so you have a copy of the file with the original, editable bubbles.
4. Select all the bubbles, then set the Fill Colour to white, and Stroke Colour to black. Play with the Alpha (A) slider on the fill colour to adjust the opacity of the bubbles if you like, but in my opinion the good ol' white solid background and black solid line works best.

For transparent / shaded bubbles - duplicate the layer, and when you apply a fill colour (step 4), make the bubbles transparent. Switch to the layer copy (which should be below the layer with the transparent bubbles) and make all the bubbles white with Line Style set to "None" (this is in Object -> Fill and Stroke -- Ctrl-Shift-F). Play with gradients and transparency as required :)

And last but not least, if you're using a Wacom or similar tablet with pressure sensitivity, you'll probably want to make Inkscape use it. To enable it, select File -> Inkscape Preferences (Ctrl-Shift-P), select Misc from the list on the left, and make sure "Use a pressure sensitive tablet or other device" is checked. If it isn't, check the box and restart Inkscape.


Bonus question - is anyone else using Inkscape, or just me?
- NQI
"This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." - T. S. Eliot
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Re: Inkscape tips and tricks

Postby Dread on Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:28 pm

I may try this out. I wonder how it would make inking lines look... I'm curious to know what benefits this program has over Illustrator or Photoshop for doing this sort of stuff...
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Re: Inkscape tips and tricks

Postby NotQuiteInsane on Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:48 pm

Dread wrote:I may try this out. I wonder how it would make inking lines look... I'm curious to know what benefits this program has over Illustrator or Photoshop for doing this sort of stuff...

The big advantage you get over Photoshop is a theoretically infinite resolution -- PS is pixel-based, so if you generate an image at 300dpi, you can scale it down and lose fine detail or scale it up and lose edge definition (it's not exactly like that, but along those lines). Inkscape is more like Flash or Illustrator; it's a vector drawing tool rather than a raster (pixel-based) graphics tool.

Instead of saving pixel values ("pixel 0x0 is red, 0x1 is a lighter red..."), what Inkscape does is to save e.g. "there's a line from 202x21 to 294x63, with a curve in the middle, it's red, 3 units thick and antialiased". So you can generate a 100dpi image for the web, then if you decide to print your drawing, you can generate a PostScript or PDF file to send to the printers, and it'll get printed at the maximum resolution their equipment can handle.

What Photoshop *does* handle better are fills - you can just brush in areas you want to be a certain colour, then fill them, shade them and do whatever you want to enhance the effects. On Inkscape, you create the general shape of the fill first as a freehand line, close the shape, then set the fill parameters (colour, gradients, transparency). You do get a bit more control over the composition for all this trouble -- because everything is an object, if you make a mess of a fill, you can just delete the part of it you don't like -- say, the highlight or iris colour of an eye) and try again. In PS you get to redo most of it from scratch, unless it happens to be on a layer of its own.

You still have layers in Inkscape, just that they're used more for sorting and categorising objects than splitting editable sections up. Put simply, even if you save, close and then reopen the image later, you still have all the editing capability you had before you quit Inkscape (aside from losing the undo buffer, that is).

And best of all, it's free :P
- NQI
"This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." - T. S. Eliot
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Re: Inkscape tips and tricks

Postby Dread on Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:01 pm

Sounds good. I'm just curious if it would be better for inking than doing it freehand or with the pen tool in Photoshop. I'm really stubborn about how I ink stuff, I like the freehand approach even if it looks bad compared to traditional inking.
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