Change Entire Color Ranges with HSL Adjustments In Inkscape

How to adjust HSL in Inkscape

When changing the colors of objects in Inkscape, you typically have to select each individual object one-by-one and apply a fill color to each. But what if you wanted to change an entire range of colors so that you end up with a more consistent result? This is where HSL adjustments come in handy, and in this tutorial we’ll be going over how you can use them in Inkscape.

In short, this is accomplished using the HSL Adjust extension, which comes already built into Inkscape. And the brilliant thing about this extension is that once it’s applied, the paths’ fill colors will actually be changed. It won’t just be a temporary filter (as was the case in an earlier tutorial about inverting colors.) Let’s have a closer look.

HSL Adjustments In Inkscape

The following tutorial will walk you through the process of adjusting the HSL settings of vector paths in Inkscape:

For this demonstration, the example I’ll be using is the following vector graphic of a fox that I downloaded from 123RF:

Example graphic

This design consists only of individual objects that are filled with a mix of solid colors and gradients. I have grouped them together for the sake of simplicity, but that is completely optional.

To change the entire range of colors of my grouped object, I’m going to select it and open the HSL Adjust extension by navigating to:

Extensions > Color > HSL Adjust

The extension comes already built into Inkscape. It doesn’t need to be downloaded or installed.

Once opened, the following menu will populate on your screen:

HSL Adjust menu
The HSL Adjust menu (click to enlarge.)

Toggle on the Preview by ticking the box at the bottom of the menu so you can preview your changes as they’re applied.

You will see three sliders– each of which represents an HSL property:

  • Hue: the color range being used
  • Saturation: the intensity of the color
  • Lightness: lighten or darken the overall composition

Adjusting these sliders will change the properties of each.

The Hue slider allows you to cycle through the entire spectrum of colors, enabling you to change the entire color ranges of the objects selected:

Hue slider

The Saturation slider controls the intensity of the color. Increasing the value will make the colors more vibrant and intense, whereas decreasing it will gradually remove all color until the image is black & white/grayscale:

Saturation slider

Finally, increasing the Lightness slider will make the entire composition of the selection lighter, whereas decreasing it will darken it:

Lightness slider

You may have noticed that there is a Randomize option beneath each slider. Enabling that setting will apply random values to each of the individual elements within the group/selection. This doesn’t appear to have much utility beyond creating abstract artistic effects, but feel free to play around with it if you want.

Once you are satisfied with your changes, click the Apply button to apply them then close out of the menu.

(Tip: make sure to only click the Apply button once. When clicked, nothing visually happens on the screen, and if you click it again the changes will be applied a second time.)

The Final Result

Once your changes are applied, you can ungroup the object and select each of the individual objects to confirm that their fill colors have indeed been unchanged (indicated either in the Fill & Stroke menu or the status bar at the bottom of the screen.)

The subject after its HSL properties have been adjusted.

Unlike other extensions that just apply a temporary filter, the actual color of the path has been changed. This applied to both solid fills and gradients. This is something to keep in mind if you want to preserve the original colors. Applying these changes to a duplicate copy of the objects may be a wise choice.

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Nick Saporito

Hi, I'm Nick— a Philadelphia-based graphic designer with over 10 years of experience. Each year millions of users learn how to use design software to express their creativity using my tutorials here and on YouTube.

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