Inkscape FAQs

Submitted By: brynn Date: July 28, 2013, 04:17:32 AM Views: 14457

Inkscape FAQs

If you're stuck and in a hurry, you might find the solution to your problem among these common issues.  If your problem isn't here, and you decide to post a message, we ask you to please try to solve the problem on your own, first.  Here are some tips on that.

You want to select an individual object, but you can only select the whole image.Please see this short tutorial, which explains all the different possible reasons and solutions.
How to select an object that's covered up by another object?Position the mouse over the object.  Hold the Alt key while you click twice (not a double click, but 2 slow clicks).  Each successive click selects the next object down in the stack.  When the lowest object in the z-order is selected, the next click selects the top object again.
A tool used to work, but doesn't work anymore.  (Or tools seem to be drawing invisible objects.)
What To Do When A Tool Stops Working
An object has a border which you don't want; or doesn't have a border and you want one.In Inkscape, this border, which is black and 1 px wide by default, is called a "stroke".  You can apply or remove it, or change its color or width, using Object menu > Fill and Stroke.  On the Stroke Paint tab, the  :rem: button removes the stroke, and the  :fc: button replaces it.  You can also change the color on this tab.  The stroke width or style, and some other things, can be set on the Stroke Style tab.
Ellipse (circle) tool is not drawing full ellipses (circles).Look on the control bar and click this button  :we: (far right icon)
Rectangle tool is drawing rounded corners and you want them sharp.Look on the control bar and click this button  :src: (far right icon).

How to draw a straight line?

In Inkscape, a line is generally referred to as a "path".  But not always.  In some cases, a long, skinny rectangle could be called a line.  So this is the short answer:
  • Pencil/Freehand tool:  click once to start the line and once to end
  • Pen/Bezier tool:  click once to start and double-click to end
  • Connector tool:  same as Pencil.
  • Please see this comprehensive (yet introductory) tutorial to get started drawing paths:  How to Draw a Line with Inkscape
  • In the manual:  Paths

How to draw a curved or freehand line?

In Inkscape, a line is generally referred to as a "path".  Since paths are pretty much the mainstay of vector graphics, they can't possibly be covered in an FAQ.  But here are the short versions:
  • For freehand lines, use Pencil/Freehand tool.  Press the mouse button and hold it down while you are dragging the mouse.  To stop drawing, release the mouse button.
  • For curves, the same Pencil/Freehand tool could be used, with certain settings (like smoothing, et al).  But typically you would use the Pen/Bezier tool.  Click once to start the path.  Click once wherever you want to place a node (click for cusp/corner nodes, click and drag for smooth nodes).  Then double-click to end the path.
  • Nice curves can also be made with the Calligraphy tool, but it makes a special kind of path.  I'm afraid you really will have to consult a manual or tutorial to learn much about this.  But simply, click and hold the button while you drag the mouse.  Release the button to stop drawing.
  • Please see this comprehensive tutorial to get started drawing paths:  How to Draw a Line with Inkscape
  • In the manual:  Paths
How to cut an object into 2 pieces quickly?Unfortunately, it's not as easy as drawing a line across the object, and giving a cut command.  (At least not yet.)  There are a few different ways to do this, and it depends on your goals for the object and circumstances on the canvas.  Please post a message in the forum explaining the situation, and perhaps even show us a screenshot, if necessary.
PNGs don't have a transparent background.Most of the time, this happens when you use Save As Cairo png.  The proper way to save a PNG with transparency, is to use File menu > Export PNG.
Copied objects become rasterized when Pasted.This is caused by a bug in Inkscape installed on Macs.  Instead of Copy/Paste, you can use Duplicate.  There are more issues with using Inkscape on a Mac -- here's some info.

"Linked Image Not Found"

When raster ("bitmap") images are imported into Inkscape, you will be given a choice of options:  to link, or to embed.

Embed - The raster image becomes permanently part of the SVG file, and will always be there when you open the SVG file (unless/until it's deleted or extracted).  (Advantage - The raster image stays in the SVG file.  Disadvantage - The embedded raster image makes the SVG filesize much larger.)

Link - The raster file does not become part of the SVG file, and instead, the path for Inkscape to find the raster file (on your computer) is stored in SVG file.  Every time you open the SVG file, Inkscape looks for the raster file, in the place where it was when you imported it, so it can be displayed.  If you happen to delete that raster file from your computer, or move it to another folder, or if you take the SVG file to another computer, Inkscape will not be able to find the raster file, the next time you open it.  However, Inkscape does remember that there had been an imported raster file, and it remembers exactly where it was on your canvas.  So in that place on your canvas, Inkscape displays a beautiful placeholder/error message for you: 

At this point, the only way to get the image back, is to import it again.  This time, you could either embed it, or simply remember to keep it together with the SVG file, if you plan to move either file later.  (If you initially link an imported image, and later want it to be embedded, you can use Extensions menu > Images > Embed Images.)
The path jumps around when dragging it, or it goes berserk.When you made the path, you probably had the Pen/Bezier or Pencil/Freehand tool in Spiro Spline mode.  To fix, you can either A) change the tool setting to Regular path mode, on the Pen or Pencil control bar, and re-draw the path; or B) select the path and click Path menu > Remove Path Effect.

Filling a close space (with Paint Bucket tool) doesn't fill the entire shape.
The Paint Bucket tool should only be used to fill a completely enclosed space that is made up of more than 1 path.  Any closed path (different from "enclosed space") should be Filled (using Fill and Stroke dialog or palette).  The Paint Bucket tool does not simply fill a space with color.  It actually creates a whole new path -- a path which is not very precise, because Inkscape can only guess where to put it.

So when you decide the Paint Bucket tool is the best approach, you can use the Grow/Shrink setting on the Paint Bucket tool control bar, to make the new path automatically larger or smaller.  However, especially in tight curves or sharp corners, you will still probably have to do some node editing, depending on how much precision you need.

Inkscape is working very slow, freezes or crashes.

If Inkscape crashes while you're working on something, and you weren't working on a particularly large file, and you're interested in finding out if the crash was caused by a bug; please post a message in the forum, with details and a sample file that shows the problem, including your system info and Inkscape version.

If you just want to make Inkscape work faster, please read this little tutorial:  Tips to Avoid Performance Issues (Slow-downs, Freezing, Crashing, etc.).

If anyone wants to suggest more FAQs, please feel free to add a comment below.  I'm sure there are many more issues that have escaped my head at the moment.  However, these comments should NOT be used for support.  If you need help with Inkscape, please post a message on the forum  ;-)

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November 02, 2013, 10:51:03 PM
Yes, that issue is already covered.  It's the 2nd one.  But thanks for your comments, because I realize it doesn't cover the possibility of the fill or stroke being turned off entirely.  So I'll add that part to it.

Thanks Inkspots  :D
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November 01, 2013, 04:02:49 PM
Suggested topic for the faq,

Help! I'm drawing rectangles, circles, and stars, but no matter what tool I use my objects dont show up!
I know they're there, I can sometimes see the selection box for one of them, but they are invisible, what the heck is going on here?

answer: somehow you've managed to turn off both the stroke and the fill of an object, or made the colors for both totally transparent, (or the same color as your canvas)
and inkscape has saved this as the last used tool settings to use when you start drawing again.
you can fix this by box selecting ( left click-hold-and-drag around an area of the Inkscape canvas ) one of your invisible objects. Then open the fill and stroke dialog box
and change the fill and stroke colors as desired. Do this for each object you drew that isnt visible.
Note: If you have trouble selecting your invisible objects, you can change inkscape's view mode to "outline" and you will probably be able to see them.

I cant tell you how many times I've heard this question asked by new comers trying out Inkscape for the first time.