Make your SVG background transparent in Inkscape

How To Make your SVG Background Transparent in Inkscape

How To Make your SVG Background Transparent in Inkscape 800 470 Nick Saporito

In this tutorial I’ll be demonstrating how to make your SVG background transparent in Inkscape. This can be done by simply ticking a box in the Document Properties menu.

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SVG Format

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG for short) is the native file format that Inkscape runs on. Whenever you open up a fresh Inkscape canvas, you’re working on an SVG file in the SVG environment, and that’s the format you’ll have to save your document as if you’d like to be able to edit it later on.

Making The SVG Background Transparent

When you open up Inkscape you may be confused to see that the background of the canvas is white by default.

Inkscape white background

Inkscape opens with a white background by default

Although the document may appear to have a white background, it’s actually a transparent background. They just made it white because they had to fill it with something. If you were to export anything from your document to PNG format though, you’d clearly see that there’s a transparent background.

If you’d like to make your SVG background transparent in the sense that it displays a grayscale checkerboard pattern (like GIMP and other applications do) instead of white, you can do so by navigating to File > Document Properties and ticking the box that read Checkerboard Background.

Document properties menu

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Once ticked, your checkerboard background should render in Inkscape in real time…

SVG with a transparent background

Your SVG background will be no more (or less) transparent than it previously was when it was filled with white. This just changes the display, which can be really helpful if you’re working with a lot of white objects.

Filling The Background with Color

Finally, if you’d like the background of your SVG to have a color fill, this can also be accomplished via the Document Properties menu. Simply click on the white stripe positioned next to where it says Background Color. A color selector will pop up on your screen.

Changing background color with inkscape

It’s important to note that your SVG background will continue to be transparent despite the color fill as long as the A column (which represents the transparency of the color) remains at 0. If you’d like the document to actually have that background color (even on exports) then you can bring that column up from 0 to 100.

And that should do it for working with backgrounds in Inkscape. If you have any questions that weren’t addressed in this post just leave a comment below and I’ll write back if I can help.

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Nick Saporito

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

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