If you are professionals in the illustration sector, designer or web designer, you must need a program with which you can make all kinds of graphics, drawings and designs. In this case, programs such as Illustrator or Corel Draw, two of the most reputable packages in the sector, will surely ring a bell. Instead, today we are going to talk about a free alternative to make all kinds of vector graphics with functions similar to these two giants for free, such as Inkscape .

Inkscape is one of the staple bits of maker software as it’s powerful, open-source, and relatively easy to get started with. As general-purpose vector drawing software, Inkscape is useful for a wide range of people, such as artists and diagram makers. Because it’s vector-based, it stores the lines and shapes in the drawing, not just the color values of pixels (as a raster editor does). This means that tools such as laser cutters can import the vectors and convert the lines and shapes in your image to cuts, or other
tool movements.

Main features of Inkscape

  • Object creation: with different drawing tools (pencil, pen …), shape tools (rectangles, stars, spirals …), text tools, embedded images, and cloning to link copies of objects.
  • Object manipulation: it allows transforming (move, rotate …), perform depth operations, object groupings, layers (lock, sort …), and alignment and distribution commands.
  • Rendering: allows visualization with antialiasing, includes support for transparent PNGs, both for import and export, as well as interactive rendering during the transformation of objects.
  • Fill and Border – Features color selection, eyedropper tool, gradient editor, pattern fill, dotted borders, markers on the path, as well as the ability to copy and paste styles.
  • Tracing operations: it has a node editor, bitmap tracing, possibility to convert to tracing. It also has boolean operations, simplification of variable magnitude paths, and expansion or contraction of paths, dynamically or linked.
  • Text support: to be able to use simple text or paragraphs, as well as any system font that is not bitmap. It allows the possibility of making kerning and line spacing adjustments, thus introducing text by stroke and text in form.
  • Others: it allows the visualization and edition of the document’s source code in the XML editor, export to PNG, DXF, sk1, PDF, EPS and PostScript among others. It also has conversion and export options from the command line, as well as the possibility of creating and modifying files under the SVG format standard.

Inkscape has been around since 2003, yet the application didn’t reach version 1.0 until May 2020. It’s this major milestone release that we’re looking at here.

If you’ve used Inkscape before, the new version will look familiar, but a little more modern. This is thanks to the upgrade to GTK3. This upgrade in graphics toolkits brings with it a host of improvements for modern systems, most noticeably support for high DPI screens and a native OS X version. The former of these is a huge boon for this reviewer, as previous versions had really struggled on his machine.

There have been far too many improvements to go through them all here. The area that stands out the most as useful for makers is the changes to Live Path Effects (LPE). These allow you to make reversible changes to a vector path. The whole area of LPEs has had an overhaul, but a couple of new options may be of particular interest: fillet/chamfer and measure segment.

The one note of caution is that the extensions API has changed, and while many of the extensions have been ported, not all of them have. 

If you particularly rely on any extension as part of your workflow, Inkscape was already a great choice as a vector image editor, and the new improvements in this version make it even better.  

If you are ready to give Inkscape a try head to our Installation Guide to install Inkscape and try it for yourself.