As demonstrated on this site many times in the past, there’s no shortage of ways in which you can utilize Inkscape for graphic design. One such way would be creating diagrams and infographics, in which case you’ll probably need to generate arrows to help illustrate your message better. In this tutorial we’ll be going over how to create arrows in Inkscape without actually having to design them! Instead, we’ll be generating them from paths.
You may be under the impression that arrows are something that need to be designed manually. However, thanks to some of Inkscape’s built-in features, creating arrows is simply a matter of drawing a path and then using the Fill & Stroke menu to apply a marker to the end of the path. The marker that we apply will serve as the head of the arrow.
Create Arrows In Inkscape
The following video tutorial will walk you through the entire process of generating quick and easy arrows with Inkscape:
Continue on for the written instructions
Table of Contents
To create an arrow in Inkscape, the first step is the grab the Bezier Pen (keyboard shortcut: B) and create a path on your canvas.
You can create your path by clicking once on the canvas, and then dragging the line in the direction that you’d like your arrow to go. Then, click again a second time to determine where you’d like the end point of your arrow to be and press Enter to complete the path:
If you’d like to make your arrow follow a curve then feel free to curve the path while you’re drawing it. If you don’t know how to do that then do not worry, we will be addressing this in a later step.
Now we will turn this path into an arrow.
To do this, we must open the Fill & Stroke menu by navigating to:
Object > Fill and Stroke
Alternatively, you can press Control + Shift + F on your keyboard to open the menu.
Within the Fill & Stroke menu, navigate to the Stroke Style tab:
You will see an option in the Stroke Style tab labeled as Markers, which consists of three input fields:
The input field on the left allows you to place a marker at the beginning of the path, the middle input field allows you to place markers at all of the individual nodes in the path, and the input field furthest to the right will place markers at the end of the path.
Markers are what we’ll be using to create the head of the arrow, and the head of the arrow will be at the end of the path.
Using the dropdown menu furthest to the right, select one of the arrowhead designs from the list:
This will effectively turn your path into an arrow:
When you create arrows in Inkscape they will be black at first because that’s the default color used to create new strokes.
You can change the color of your arrow by navigating to the Stroke Paint tab in the Fill & Stroke menu and applying whatever color you’d like:
Alternatively, you can hold Shift on your keyboard and click on any of the colors in the color palette at the bottom of your screen to change the arrow color as well.
If you’d like to change the size of your arrow, you can do so by simply increasing the stroke Width, which is located in the Stroke Style tab:
Increasing the width will make the arrow and its tail larger. Decreasing it will make them smaller:
Now that we’ve gone over how to create arrows in Inkscape, let’s go over how to transform them a bit.
Once you’ve made your arrow the size, color and style you’d like it to be, you can bend your arrow and change its position using the Edit Paths By Nodes tool (keyboard shortcut: N) You can learn more about how this tool works in this lesson.
With the Nodes tool selected, simply click and drag on one of the nodes to move its position:
You can make the arrow follow a curved path by clicking and dragging the line to bend it:
And, of course, you can move and transform the entire arrow using the Select Tool, the same as you would for any other object.
In short, if you know how to create paths in Inkscape then you already know how to make arrows in Inkscape. The only difference is that a marker is applied to the end of the path.
This feature is super convenient for anyone who just needs to generate quick arrows and doesn’t want to draw them manually. The downside, though, is that you have little control over the size of the path relative to the arrowhead.
If you’d like to make the path thicker without increasing the size of the arrowhead then you’ll have to use a workaround that I went over in the video tutorial above. The workaround is that we’ll duplicate the arrow, remove the marker, and then increase the stroke width. However, you won’t be able to reposition and bend the arrow once this is done, so make sure you have the arrow placed exactly where you want it to be beforehand.
If you have any questions or need clarification on any of the steps taken in this lesson, simply leave a comment below.
Become A Master of Inkscape!
Want to learn more about how Inkscape works? Check out the Inkscape Master Class – a comprehensive series of over 60 videos where I go over every tool, feature and function in Inkscape and explain what it is, how it works, and why it’s useful.
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