FOSS Under OS X – Inkscape

Have you had the need to create a high quality drawing on your Mac? If so, Inkscape may be your answer. Inkscape is a vector graphics editor (similar to Adobe Illustrator) that can satisfy the needs of the professional or the beginner. What sets Inkscape apart is it’s use of SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), part of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standards. The software is also cross platform – available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

Whether you want to create a quick sketch, or a near photo quality image, you can do it in Inkscape. Vector design is often the preferred method of image creation for logos, illustrations and art which require high scalability. The Inkscape application is used across a wide variety of industries (marketing/branding, engineering/CAD, web graphics, cartooning) and individual uses.

A wide range of tutorials are included that will guide you whether you are a beginner or a seasoned artist. The list of features that Inkscape includes is extensive, as listed on the Inkscape web site:

Object creation

  •  Drawing: pencil tool (freehand drawing with simple paths), pen tool (creating Bézier curves and straight lines), calligraphy tool (freehand drawing using filled paths representing calligraphic strokes)
  • Shape tools: rectangles (may have rounded corners), ellipses (includes circles, arcs, segments), stars/polygons (can be rounded and/or randomized), spirals
  • Text tool (multi-line text, full on-canvas editing)
  • Embedded bitmaps (with a command to create and embed bitmaps of selected objects)
  • Clones (“live” linked copies of objects), including a tool to create patterns and arrangements of clones

Object manipulation

  • Transformations (moving, scaling, rotating, skewing), both interactively and by specifying exact numeric values
  • Z-order operations (raising and lowering)
  • Grouping objects (“select in group” without ungrouping, or “enter the group” making it a temporary layer)
  • Layers (lock and/or hide individual layers, rearrange them, etc; layers can form a hierarchical tree)
  • Alignment and distribution commands

Fill and stroke

  •  Color selector (RGB, HSL, CMYK, color wheel, CMS)
  • Color picker tool
  • Copy/paste style
  • A gradient editor capable of multi-stop gradients
  • Pattern fills (bitmap/vectors)
  • Dashed strokes, with many predefined dash patterns
  •  Path markers (ending, middle and/or beginning marks, e.g. arrowheads)

Operations on paths

  • Node editing: moving nodes and Bezier handles, node alignment and distribution, etc.
  • Converting to path (for text objects or shapes), including converting stroke to path
  • Boolean operations
  • Path simplification, with variable threshold
  • Path insetting and outsetting, including dynamic and linked offset objects
  • Bitmap tracing (both color and monochrome paths)

Text support

  • Multi-line text
  • Uses any installed outline fonts, including right-to-left scripts
  • Kerning, letterspacing, linespacing adjustments
  • Text on path (both text and path remain editable)
  • Text in shape (fill shape following stroke)

Rendering

  • Fully anti-aliased display
  • Alpha transparency support for display and PNG export
  • Complete “as you drag” rendering of objects during interactive transformations

Misc

  • Live watching and editing the document tree in the XML editor
  • PNG, OpenDocument Drawing, DXF, sk1, PDF, EPS and PostScript export formats and more
  • Command line options for export and conversions
  • Perfectly compliant SVG format file generation and editing

Check out some of the artwork created with Inkscape on their on-line Gallery. If you need to create scalable graphic images, Inkscape may be just what you are looking for.


See my other Mac OS X articles


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