How To Make Inkscape Go Dark

How To Make Inkscape Go Dark 848 310 Nick Saporito

The question I’m most commonly asked by newcomers to my Youtube channel is why Inkscape appears dark on my system and how they can do the same, since it isn’t an available feature in any version of Inkscape to date.

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Inkscape with a dark theme & updated icons

Check out my post about updating Inkscape’s icons for instructions on how to install them.

Since this is so commonly asked, I figured I’d create a post clarifying this once and for all and include a link to it in the description section of each video so I don’t have to keep explaining it over and over. I was originally going to make a video about it, but there’s already some excellent videos about the topic which I will be referencing in this post. Let’s get started.

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Which Operating System Are You Using?

There’s currently only two operating systems on which I’ve successfully made Inkscape go dark, both of which I’ll be covering: Windows and Ubuntu. Assuming that the majority of my viewers use Windows, I’ll start with that.

Windows XP & Up (including Vista, Windows 7, 8 and 10)

Making Inkscape dark in a Windows environment is quite simple. It’s just a matter of swapping out some files for some additional files you’ll be downloading, every last step of which is covered in this excellent video by “videosbyjohnny” on Youtube

If you watch the video in its entirety and follow the directions being given step-by-step, you’ll have a dark theme for Inkscape without a single hiccup. I tried this myself on one of my Windows 7 laptops and it worked without a hitch.

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The only caution I offer is that I don’t know how to revert Inkscape back to its standard theme once this method has been implemented, so make sure you really want Inkscape to appear dark, otherwise you may have to dig a little further to find out how to reverse it. Unfortunately, I cannot help you with that. I’m quite a fan of the dark theme myself and haven’t so much as thought about looking back since I’ve had it.

A copy of the ZIP file being asked to download in the video, which is in the description box of the video, can be found here for Windows XP, and here for anything later than Windows XP. I’ve downloaded and used these files myself, so I can assure you they are functional and do not come with any trojans as far as I can tell. Norton Security did trigger an alert when I first downloaded it, but it’s because these files are used to change key files within the system’s Inkscape folder, which is absolutely necessary for something like this and will not be a problem if you follow the instructions carefully.

In addition, he also included summarized step-by-step directions of the video in the description box in case you miss anything. They are as follows…

WinXP Instructions
1. Unzip “Inkscape_48_Dark_Theme.zip” or drag and drop to desired location
2. Double click on “Inkscape_48_Dark_Theme.exe”
3. Make sure extraction location is “C:”
4. Click extract
5. Start or re-start Inkscape

Replaces the file “gtkrc” file in the all Inkscape sub-directories:

C:Program FilesInkscapeetcgtk-2.0 ( Most Important to replace )

C:Program FilesInkscapesharethemesDefaultgtk-­2.0-key
C:Program FilesInkscapesharethemesEmacsgtk-2.­0-key
C:Program FilesInkscapesharethemesMS-Windowsg­tk-2.0
C:Program FilesInkscapesharethemesRaleighgtk-­2.0

To replace icons (optional)

Goto:
C:Program FilesInkscapeshareicons

Icons files included in extraction:
“icons_tango_bw.svg”
“icons_tango_color.svg”

(To change icons, rename desired icon file as “icons.svg”)

Enjoy!

designs@byjohnny.com

Ubuntu (Linux)

Implementing a dark theme for Inkscape on Linux is equally simple, only it functions differently. The reason Inkscape appears dark on my system is because I’m using a dark theme for Ubuntu, called Vertex Dark, that makes everything on my operating system dark by default, which I quite like…

vertexdarktheme

Click For An Enlarged View of How Vertex Dark Looks On My System

So, by default, everything on my system appears dark, including Inkscape. As for making just Inkscape itself dark, without affecting the appearance of the rest of the operating system and its applications, I’m afraid I cannot help you there. I searched around for some answers but wasn’t satisfied with any of the solutions I found, so I don’t have any experience to speak of and guide you with.

If you’re okay with having a dark theme for your entire system and want to install the Vertex Dark theme (and this is not permanent — you can also toggle it off with ease,) the first thing you’ll have to do is download the Unity Tweak Tool, which can be found in the Ubuntu Software Center. This is the application that will allow you to toggle between different themes and icon sets, as well as a wide variety of other user customizations…

unitytweaktool

Once you have the Unity Tweak Tool installed, it’s time to download the Vertex Dark theme, which can be found at this link. Also included in the link, at the bottom of the page, are simple step-by-step instructions explaining how to install and implement the themes. Noobslab is an excellent website for custom themes and icon sets, and each one comes with simple instructions that even a first-time Ubuntu user could follow. I highly recommend checking them out. One of the many reasons I love Linux so much is because it offers the capability of customizing appearances.

Once you’ve followed the instructions and successfully downloaded the theme, simply open up the Unity Tweak Tool and click on “Theme” in the “Appearance” menu and click on “Vertex Dark” in the list. It should switch to the new theme immediately.

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Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design. A full portfolio and information regarding services offered can be found at LogosByNick.com.

All stories by: Nick Saporito
37 comments
  • MrCodeDev

    You can also edit your Ubuntu to use the theme without using Vertex-Dark default. To use it you just have to install the theme, and then having Alacarte or Menulibre to edit menus. In some of these programs just Inkscape and select the command add this:

    env GTK2_RC_FILES=/usr/share/themes/Vertex-Dark/gtk-2.0/gtkrc inkscape %F

    After you open normally and already have dark Inkscape. You can add if you like this article, as not everyone will want to have default topic. GIMP also true if anyone is interested.

    Greetings

  • Brandon

    Just did this on both Windows 10 and Mac OS Sierra 10.12.1. Process is similar: extract .zip file that you download, locate the 5 original files that you are supposed to replace, then replace them. On Mac, I also needed an app called the Unarchiver to extract (twice) the .zip file. Needed to extract both the .zip folder as well as the .exe file contained in it in order to access the new themes.
    After completing this, I also installed the new icons that Nick posted in a separate post by finding the /share/inkscape/icons folder (which is a slightly different path than for Windows), and replacing the icon.svg file. Thanks Nick.

    • Nick

      I had Norton do the same thing to me when I downloaded it on Windows. The reason it’s flagged as malicious is because it alters core files of an application (Inkscape). I can assure you that there is nothing malicious within the zip file though.

    • Heath

      The version of your operating system and the software may have something to do with it. The video shows the 32-bit installation on Windows. If you are using a 64-bit operating system and installed the 64-bit version of Inkscape, you will have to change each of the files manually. If you uninstall the 64-bit version > reboot > and install the 32-bit version, it will work.

      I learned the hard way. This was my solution.

      I am running the 64-bit version of Windows 10 and installed Inkscape v.0.92.2 today. After installing the Windows 32-bit version of Inkscape, I was able to use the dark theme.

    • Heath

      The version of your operating system and the software may have something to do with it. The video shows the 32-bit installation on Windows. If you are using a 64-bit operating system and installed the 64-bit version of Inkscape, you will have to change each of the files manually. If you uninstall the 64-bit version > reboot > and install the 32-bit version, it will work.

      I learned the hard way. This was my solution.

      I am running the 64-bit version of Windows 10 and installed Inkscape v.0.92.2 today. After installing the Windows 32-bit version of Inkscape, I was able to use the dark theme.

  • heath

    The version of your operating system and the software may have something to do with it. The video shows the 32-bit installation on Windows. If you are using a 64-bit operating system and installed the 64-bit version of Inkscape, you will have to change each of the files manually. If you uninstall the 64-bit version > reboot > and install the 32-bit version, it will work.

    I learned the hard way. This was my solution.

    I am running the 64-bit version of Windows 10 and installed Inkscape v.0.92.2 today. After installing the Windows 32-bit version of Inkscape, I was able to use the dark theme.

  • heath

    The version of your operating system and the software may have something to do with it. The video shows the 32-bit installation on Windows. If you are using a 64-bit operating system and installed the 64-bit version of Inkscape, you will have to change each of the files manually. If you uninstall the 64-bit version > reboot > and install the 32-bit version, it will work.

    I learned the hard way. This was my solution.

    I am running the 64-bit version of Windows 10 and installed Inkscape v.0.92.2 today. After installing the Windows 32-bit version of Inkscape, I was able to use the dark theme.

  • Douglas Haack

    Nick, thanks for all your sharing efforts. I’ve used Illustrator on and off since ’87. Spent a lot of money on PS. Ai — Adobe updates etc. I’ve been retired since 2003 and today I downloaded Inkscape — and Wow !! Your work will be a great help. I will get your logo package just for fun . . . Question: When do you show us your GIMP skills ?

    With thanks, Hark-Haack,
    Sydney Oz

    • Anonymous

      I’m not able to ‘make it dark’ either. I followed Heath’s directions but it’s still the same interface. (I have Win 10 32 bit). I’m not exactly a technophobe but I’m not a programmer either. I was hoping this would work without a glitch. My main reason for wanting the dark background is that it was recommended to reduce my eye strain.

      Oh well, I’ll keep on looking for answers.

  • Mustafa

    Thanks for this article.

    However, although I follow each step given there, I got the error on terminal as `unable to locate package vertex-theme`.

    My distro is Ubuntu 16.04.

    Do you have any idea about its reason?

  • Dwiyan Ananda

    someone could tell me where i can get the link for 0.92 version because i have tried downloaded but the file is onli the exe. is not like on the description in the zip file the consequence the file was coorupted
    thankyou

  • NotSoGreat

    The contrast between the dark scrollbars and their background is way too low – I can barely even see them. Also the same problem with my pulldown font menu – can hardly see the font samples. Same problem with a lot of the buttons. I did however enjoy the process of messing around with it for a wasted hour. The dark theme is a good idea poorly executed.

  • chad

    Thanks for the videos, Nick! I’ve been following for several years now. I have struggled with one issue in Inkscape that has been persistent to the point that I uninstall and reinstall to resolve. When I use the bezier pen the first time, I get the highlighted area that I have created with the pen. After the first use, I no longer get the highlight, but rather a strange line pattern, typically double lines with very dark black in the front, and lighter in the back. Is this a known bug or possible a setting I have not made correctly? I’m using Inkscape on Windows. Thanks again for the videos!!

    Chad

  • Paul Kwon

    Is there a way that we can get the specific simplistic icons that you use? (I may have missed it on the instructions but I could not find it. Your icons are so simplistic and so I was wondering if I was able to access it.

  • Oswald

    I downloaded the zip and did what the instructions told me, it changed my inkscape, but it didnt turn black it turned to this weired gray theme that reminded me of the 1990’s kinda looked like: https://goo.gl/images/xFvMWu I would show you a screenshot but I cant attatch a file to this comment it kept the new icons (which I loved by the way.) but anyway my inkscape is GRAY. Please help me.

  • Brendah Akoth

    I am so glad I found you!! Am starting my graphic design business and I was looking for a software for making graphics. You dedicating yourself to teach Inkscape is so wonderful. Am so grateful..
    I have questions though:how can I make templates on inkscape? And can I scan/ take a picture of my artwork and refine them on Inkscape?

  • cuervo1800

    May be a bit anal-retentive, but… just in case I wanted to revert to the original, and heading your warning about not knowing how to do that, I did the following:
    1.) Extracted the files to a folder outside of my program files so they didn’t overwrite anything
    2.) Went in to each of the actual program file folders/directories that were listed in the extracted folder and re-named the files already in there (the actual program files) to add “-Orig” to the ends so I can change them back later should I want/need to
    3.) moved/copied over the new files from the extraction into the directories listed…

    conversion complete and the original theme files are still there and easily changed if need-be…

    Cheers and thanks for the listing!

  • Casilda12

    I have no idea what is wrong on my Kubuntu system.

    All Have done several times but nothing changes in inkscape 0.92.

    Even I have changed the system theme from light into dark, Inkscape remain the same.

    Don’t know anymore what to do….

    Thanks anyway for sharing this with us 🙂

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