How to smooth a path in Inkscape

How To Smooth A Path In Inkscape

How To Smooth A Path In Inkscape 1000 587 Nick Saporito

In a recent tutorial we went over how you can draw smooth paths, but what if you want to take an already-drawn path and smooth it out without having to redraw it? That’s exactly what we’ll be addressing in this tutorial as we go over how to smooth a path in Inkscape.

In short, the best way to smooth a path in Inkscape is to use the Simplify Path Effect, which serves as an alternative to Illustrator’s Smooth Tool. It lets you  simplify paths by reducing the number of nodes they contain. Let’s have a closer look.

Smooth A Path In Inkscape

To smooth a path in Inkscape, select it and apply the “Simplify” Path Effect from the Path Effects menu (Control + Shift + 7). In the menu, gradually increase the “Roughly Threshold” and “Steps” values until your path is smoothened to your liking.

The following video tutorial will walk you through the entire process:

Continue on for the step-by-step instructions.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Select the path and open the Path Effects menu

In order to smooth a path in Inkscape we must first ensure that we have it selected, so click on it to select it (if you haven’t already) and open the Path Effects menu by navigating to:

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Path > Path Effects

It can also be accessed using the following keyboard command: Control + Shift + 7

Step 2: Apply the “Simplify” Path Effect from the menu

The Path Effects menu should open on the right-hand side of your screen. Click the plus icon (+) in the menu to apply a new path effect:

Add new path effect

Click to enlarge.

Choose the Simplify option in the menu that populates:

Simplify path effect

If you’re having trouble locating it you can use the search bar at the top of the menu (click to enlarge.)

This path effect enables you to smooth out paths by reducing the number of nodes they contain and shifting their handles so that they have smoother contours.

Step 3: Use the menu inputs to smooth the path

Once applied, you should see some menu settings that appear where the previous menu was:

Menu settings

Increase these two values to smooth the path.

The settings we’ll be paying attention to for this lesson are:

  • Roughly Threshold
  • Steps

Start by increasing the value of the Roughly Threshold setting. As you do so, you should notice that your path is gradually becoming smoother. You can also increase the Steps value to amplify the effect:

Path becoming smooth

Step 4: Convert the object to a path to apply your changes

The changes that we’ve made so far are just a temporary path effect that can be toggled off at any point. To finalize the changes, navigate to:

Path > Object To Path

And you’re done! You can use the Nodes Tool to view the path and confirm that there is a reduced amount of nodes on it.

What If My Path Still Isn’t Perfectly Smooth?

In my example you may have noticed that, although the path is smoother, there’s still some hard corners to it:

Corner nodes

This can be ironed out by using the Nodes Tool (keyboard shortcut: N) to click on the corner nodes and adjust the handles so that there is more fluidity in the contour of the path. Watch the video tutorial at the beginning of the lesson if you don’t know how to do this.

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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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