All 21 Inkscape Tools and Uses Explained

All 21 Inkscape Tools and Uses Explained 800 470 Nick Saporito

In this post I’ll be explaining all 21 Inkscape tools and uses, along with a brief demonstration of how they work. Inkscape is an open source vector graphics application similar to Adobe Illustrator. It has much more to offer than just the 21 tools located in its toolbar, but this guide should serve as a good starting point for understanding the basics of Inkscape if you’re new to the software.

Become A Master of Inkscape!

Want to learn more about how Inkscape works? Check out the Inkscape Master Class – a comprehensive series of over 50 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.

Inkscape Tools and Uses

Select and Transform

The Select tool allows you to activate, move, rotate, shear, and scale single or multiple objects at a time.

Edit Paths By Nodes

The Edit Paths By Nodes tool allows you to alter the properties of a vector object relative to its coordinates on the X and Y axis. Editable properties include nodes (or coordinate points of an object) and lines.

Tweak Objects

The Tweak Objects tool allows you to make compound alterations to multiple objects, paths, and colors at a time. Alterations include moving multiple objects at once, shrinking, rotating, or duplicating them. It also allows you to make adjustments based on colors and blurs.

Zoom

The Zoom tool allows you to increase or decrease your view of the canvas. You can zoom in to see fine details, zoom out to get a more complete view of the canvas, or set the view ratio to 1:1 in order to see how the canvas looks at full size.

Measurement

The Measurement tool allows you to assess the length, width, height, radius, or diameter of specific objects in the following units of measurement: px, mm, pc, pt, in, cm.

Squares and Rectangles

The Squares and Rectangles tool is used to create 4-sided vector objects, including squares and rectangles. The tool allows you to create rectangles with either perfect right angle corners or rounded corners to varying degrees.

3D Boxes

The 3D Boxes tool allows you to quickly create three-sided vector boxes that appear as if they’re three-dimensional. The X, Y, and Z axis can be adjusted indepently in order to determine the box’s width, height, and depth.

Circles, Ellipses, and Arcs

The Circles, Ellipses, and Arcs tool can be used to create vector objects with curved edges, including circles and ellipses. The tool also allows you to create partial ellipses in pie chart style.

Stars and Polygons

The Stars and Polygons tool allows you to create both stars and polygons. When creating stars, you’ll be able to determine the number of corners the star has, the spoke ratio between each star, and you can choose to give your star rounded corners as well. When creating polygons, you’ll be able to determine the number of sides/corners and you can choose to make them rounded if you’d like.

Spirals

The Spirals tool is used to create vector paths that follow a spiral trajectory. The tool allows you to adjust the number of turns the spiral has as well as its divergence from its center point.

Draw Freehand Lines

The Draw Freehand Lines tool is used to draw vector paths that follow the trajectory of your hand movement.

Bezier Pen

The Bezier Pen is used to create vector paths by creating a series of individual points known as nodes. The paths can have straight edges or curved edges.

Draw Calligraphic or Brush Strokes

The Draw Calligraphic or Brush Strokes tool allows you to create freehand vector objects using a classic brush stroke and shape of your choosing.

Text Objects

The Text Objects tool is used to create vector text and wording of your choosing. It allows you to flow your text into a bounding box, or simply generate it all on one line. You can also adjust the font, size, orientation, spacing between letters and words, as well as various other adjustments.

Spray Objects

The Spray Objects tool allows you to generate vector objects by spraying them onto the canvas based on a shape of your choosing.

Erase Existing Paths

The Erase tool is used to delete segments of vector paths in a freestyle technique that is based on the trajectory of your hand movement.

Fill Bounded Areas

The Fill Bounded Areas tool, commonly known as the bucket fill tool, allows you to fill empty spaces with a predetermined fill color. In order for the tool to work, the area you’re filling in must be completely surrounded by a closed path. It will not work on empty spaces that bleed out into the open canvas.

Create and Edit Gradients

The Create and Edit Gradients tool allows you to give vector objects multiple colors that fade into each other, otherwise known as gradients. The tool also allows you to edit the gradients based on colors used, number of colors, and the position of the colors relative to the object the gradient is being applied to. The gradients can follow either a linear (straight) or radial (rounded) path.

Meshes

The Meshes tool is used to give vector objects a gradient that follows a grid (mesh) or a cone shape (conical).

Pick Colors From Image

The Pick Colors From Image tool, commonly referred to as the dropper, allows you to set an object’s fill and stroke color based on another object’s color. The tool allows you to sample colors from both vector and raster images.

Diagram Connectors

The Diagram Connectors tool allows you to create diagrams by generating paths and boxes that link objects together.

The Select Tool

Watch the video below for a more in-dept explanation of the Select Tool, which is probably the tool you’ll be using more frequently than any other.

The video above is from my Inkscape Master Class — a series of 50+ videos where I go over every tool and feature in Inkscape and explain what it is and demonstrate how it works. If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation of all Inkscape tools and uses, including every other feature and function Inkscape has to offer, then feel free to check it out! I’ll be there to help if you have any questions.

Nick Saporito

Designer, content creator, and the founder of LogosByNick.com — an educational media platform for learning about graphic design.

All stories by: Nick Saporito
19 comments
  • Vilitati Lacabuka

    I just want to say, “BULA” it means, LIFE, Lively or and HI… its has been my 2nd year with Inkscape and still learning. So, a (Vinaka Valevu), in English, “Big Thank You” from Fiji for your YouTube tutorials. All your YouTube tutorials are so clear with instructions with the paths and clicks, well after few repeats or constant rewind of a video. I do managed my finances for Data bundle from three ISP in Fiji but am with a longing feeling of a Visa Card, for something like your Master Classes. But anyways, for third world nation like Republic of SIX, SEVEN, NINE islands (AREA CODE FOR “FIJI”), where I am from. I truly say with honesty from my heart, am grateful for your “eye”mazing, YouTube tutorials. WOW, now, after reading this, I can see few ideas for great designs.
    OH, everytime it is always great to have that “Wow” feeling after reading your all blogs. Like, still on my christmas robbery list or sorry christmas wish list, the blog about the best Drawing Tablet “Wacom Intuos WPH” and the Best Graphic Design Laptops Under $1000.00, yeah okay in USD and twice in FJD, even for the Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop i7 in FJD. Bro, just 3D print my Jason Statham mask, and see the mask can make me fight some rich chinees here in Fiji. Okay, okay big story…anyways ..One Love and big Island respect…

  • Jeff

    Always great information and us novices really appreciate all the time and effort you put in to helping others. Thank you!

  • Aaron

    Your articles and tutorials have been really helpful. I plan to sign up for your Master Class soon. Thank you so much.

  • Satyapriya

    I am getting a problem in using the “outset” tool of Inkscape, the object is getting distorted when I outset. Can you help me out?

    • Nick Saporito

      Try making the object larger then try again. The outset function is far from perfect, and it will distort your object if it’s at a small size. You can also try using dynamic offset instead.

  • Buddy Morphis

    Great tutorial Nick. Learned some things I didn’t know that will make designs easier. One thing you mention is a locked object, I know I am over looking it but I can’t seem to locate how to lock the background object while manually tracing a design.
    Thanks
    Buddy

    • Nick Saporito

      Hi Buddy, I would put the background image on its own layer, then lock the layer. You can access the layer menu by pressing control + shift + L

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