Inkscape - Common function list reference

Just covering the most used functions for Fablab. Easiest to hardest.


1.   New file / how to save / what to save as

●    all under FILE menu

●    FILE > New > Default is letter sized

○    The rectangle Inkscape shows is only a guide, it will not print and is not the limit of your canvas (sort of)

●    FILE>SAVE much like any other program. Select drive:/folder to save work into.

●    FILE>SAVE AS lets you save as other file formats. The two most common: .SVG and .PDF

○    .SVG is a vector format that is very flexible for art.

○    .PDF is a vector format that is more universally readable.

2.   Importing an image.

●    FILE > IMPORT then select file from where you have saved it.

●    Good for getting .jpg .gif .png files (i.e. pictures from Internet) and pictures into Inkscape.

●    Will be placed directly under where ever your arrow is, and selected by default.

3.   Turning bitmap into a vector file.

●    cover difference between vector and bitmap if needed.


●    will open a new window


●    Change settings as needed.

●    Press “update” button for a preview of results.

●    Result vector will placed directly over top the original, but the original is still there and unharmed.

4.   Manipulating your vector (basic).

●    Selection arrow (top arrow with the tail)

○    selects an entire object

○    good for moving objects on the canvas

○    can scale the object by click-dragging the arrows on sides and corners

○    click on selection to change to rotate mode. plus sign is axis of rotation can be moved by click-dragging

●    Edit paths arrow (second arrow down, thinner, no tail)

○    shows one object, and the paths and nodes that make it up

○    think of nodes as anchor points and the path as a string between them

○    Nodes also have “Handles” that add an even “pull” force to the path in the direction of the handle’s connecting line and with the power relative to the length.

○    can select and move one node at a time.

○    can select and move just the path between two nodes.

○    can select and move the handles on the nodes

5.   Remember to save!

●    See topic 1. It’s a good idea.

6.   Raster vs. Cutting

●    Fill will ‘raster,’ useful for engraving, on the laser cutter like a printer on paper.

●    Thin (meaning exactly .001 in) stroke will cut, what the laser calls ‘vector’

●    Object > FILL AND STROKE

●    will open a side menu where you can affect whatever path you have selected.

●    Play with the menu. Press enter if you type in a number directly to see the change. Sliders are real-time.

7.   Manipulating your vector (intermediate)

●    objects can be made of many separate paths.


●    Now in several separate paths and separate objects; and can be treated as such.


●    Now separate paths are one object with small, inner parts and must be treated as such.

8.   Remember to save!

●    Still a good idea... and always will be.

9.   Drawing tools

●    Pencil: free drawing as you would expect in a drawing program.

○    tries to make a vector out of your scribbling.

●    Pen: Draws vectors!

○    place a node -click-

○    Place a node AND pull the handle -hold click and drag-

○    releasing button starts the placement of next node in the path.

○    the entire path is temporary until you double click, press enter, or rejoin the start of the path.

○    if you start a path you don’t want press Esc button.

10. Other tools

●    star

●    circle

●    rectangle

●    spiral

●    etc.

11. Manipulating your vector (intermediate)

●    Drag a node to change its position

●    Drag a node’s handle to change the shape of the curve nearby, can also click on a path and drag it to directly manipulate its shape.

○    Handles of adjacent nodes should face each other for a straight line

●    Double click on a path to add a node.

●    Change the node type (at the top, different shaped nodes: round, sharp, etc.)

●    Breaking and reconnecting paths

○    Select to adjacent nodes and break their path           

○    do this at another section to create a line segment in between the breaks (A-B)

○    do this again to create a second line segment (C-D)

○    reconnect nodes A to C and B to D to make a new solid shape out of the two line segments. Adjust the node’s handles to make the connecting curve the shape you want.

12. Useful Shortcuts at the top of the screen, from left to right

●    With the select tool (first tool, an arrow)

○    Rotate the Image

○    Flip the image

○    Type in to translate or stretch the image. Click lock to keep the aspect ratio.

●    With the vector tool (the second tool, also looks like an arrow)

○    Change node type

○    Split one node into two or combine two into one

○    remove the path between two adjacent, selected nodes

○    or create a path between two endpoint nodes on line segments.

13. Remember to save often!

●    You will be sad if your hard work is lost. So very very sad.

14. Where to find more help than we can give.

●    Inkscape’s own help menu



○    HELP > FAQ

○    etc.


○  Inkscape wiki

○ Inkscape's offical User Documentation

○ Google search for Inkscape tutorials