Repeating an Object Around a Shape with Inkscape

Repeat an object around a shape with Inkscape

In this tutorial I’ll be demonstrating how to use Inkscape to take an object and repeat it along the contours of a shape. To do this we’ll be using a handy path effect called Pattern Along Path.

The following is just a brief overview of the steps taken to create this effect. For complete step-by-step instructions I would highly recommend that you watch the video tutorial below:

Creating Patterns Along a Path in Inkscape

The following depiction outlines what we’ll be able to do. The object to the left will be repeated along the shape of a circle and a wavy line, as indicated on the right.

Step 1

The first thing we need to do is start out with an object. It can be any object you want — a circle, a square, stars, letters, etc. For this tutorial I’ll be using the following design because I think it makes for a neat pattern when repeated.

Step 2

Copy the object to your clipboard by selecting it and pressing control + c on your keyboard. Then, create the path that you’d like to repeat it along. For this example I’ll be using a circle.

Step 3

Select the circle then navigate to Path -> Path Effects and choose Pattern Along Path from the drop down menu and click Add. Nothing will happen to your design just yet, but the Pattern Along Path menu should populate.

In the menu, select “Repeated, stretched” from the drop down menu, then click the lock icon on the right hand side that reads “link” when you hover your cursor over it.

Pattern along path menu

Once you click the link button, it will tell Inkscape to take whatever you have copied to your clipboard and wrap copies of it around your selected path…

Step 4

This can work with any path you’d like! Here’s how it looks applied to a wavy line…

Step 5

And there’s a lot more that the pattern along path feature can do, like add spaces between each object, stretch out a single object rather than repeat it, etc. I would recommend you play around with it a bit and let your creativity run wild!

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12 thoughts on “Repeating an Object Around a Shape with Inkscape

  1. I want to arrange the BASES of16 flower petals around a circle. This method does not give me the option of designating the part of the object to link.

  2. For some reason, the “link path to clipboard” just doesn’t work for me. It seems to randomly decide the size of the patter regardless of how I scale it. Any clue what’s happening?

  3. I was not able to use the rotation feature on the linked object. Scaling works fine but when I try to rotate nothing happens!

  4. I cannot seem to get past the “Nothing on clipboard” error, see
    What am I doing wrong??

    1. Might be an issue with the Mac version, just tried it on a Linux in a VM and it worked first time.

  5. No matter what I try, inkscape wraps a single instance of my design around the circle. Adjusting from “repeated, stretched” to “single, stretched” does nothing. Adjusting to just “repeated” or “single” makes everything disappear. Any idea? Just downloaded the software after seeing this video on youtube and have immediately run into a wall.

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