How To Save A Transparent PNG with Inkscape

How To Save A Transparent PNG with Inkscape 1024 602 Nick Saporito

In this tutorial we’ll be going over how to save your designs with a transparent background in Inkscape. This will enable you to generate usable copies of your designs in PNG format and without a background.

When saving files you may naturally think of the typical File-Save-As pathway, but with design software it’s a little different. Your designs aren’t “saved” in the traditional sense, rather they are exported using the Export menu. Let’s elaborate.

Save A Transparent PNG With Inkscape

To save with a transparent background in Inkscape, select your design and open the Export menu by pressing Control + Shift + E. Under the Selection tab, check the box that reads “Export selected only” then click the folder icon to designate a location and name for your file.

The following video tutorial will walk you through the entire process in under 2 minutes:

Continue on for a written overview.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Select the item(s) you’d like to save

Before we can export our work as a transparent PNG we must first tell Inkscape what exactly to save. This is where selections come in handy.

Use the Select Tool to create a selection over the area of your design that you’d like to save, either by clicking on it or clicking and dragging a bounding box over it:

Selected object

The dotted bounding box around the subject indicates that it is selected (click to enlarge)

Whatever area you have selected will be saved as a PNG. If you want to save the entire page then you can disregard this step.

Step 2: Open the Export menu

Now let’s over the Export menu. To access it, navigate to:

File > Export

Or you can use the keyboard shortcut, which is Control + Shift + E.

Th Export menu will open on the right-hand side of your screen as a dockable menu.

Step 3: Adjust the settings as needed and save your file

Within the Export menu, select the tab labeled Selection if you’re exporting a selected area, or the Page tab if you’re export the entire document:

Export menu

If you’re only exporting a single object and want it to be saved with a transparent background then be sure to check the box labeled “Export selected only“, otherwise everything within the bounding box of the selection will be exported as well.

You should notice that the thumbnail preview to the bottom-left of the menu updates upon checking that box. There should be a checkerboard pattern rendered in the transparent areas now, which represents transparency:

Export preview

The checkerboard pattern represents areas of transparency (click to enlarge.)

Finally, make sure you have “Portable Network Graphic (*.PNG)” selected from the dropdown field at the bottom of the menu, then click the little folder icon to choose a location on your hard drive for your file.

Once you’ve named your file and clicked Save, your PNG will be exported and waiting for you in its designated location.

In Conclusion

It’s important not to use the save-as function when saving a transparent PNG in Inkscape as it won’t produce the expected result. The proper method is to export the design, which involves a few more steps.

Hopefully this lesson has provided clarity. If you have any questions just leave a comment below.

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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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