Inkscape User Interface Guide

I’m going to be teaching my friend how to use Inkscape as well as a few other programs so I went ahead and wrote up a reference sheet explaining the basic user interface.  Do download the .svg file so you can play with it in Inkscape while reading.

Inkscape 0.48: User Interface

Inkscape Screenshot
Table of Contents

Inkscape 0.48: User Interface
1. Menu Bar
2. Commands Bar
3. Tool Controls Bar
4. Toolbox
5. Rulers
6. Dialogs
7. Palette and Status Bar
8. Very Useful Keyboard Shortcuts

 1. Menu Bar

At the top of the program window is the menu bar, including the File, Edit, View, Layer, Object, Path, Text, Filters, Extensions, and Help menus.

I’ll explain each of these briefly.

File: Contains commands related to the actual file such as saving, opening, importing, exporting, as well as document properties and Inkscape properties.
Edit: Contains undo, redo, cut, copy, paste, duplicate, and selection tools.
View: Contains options for changing the interface as well as zoom. Also has the grid and snap features.
Layer: Contains options for managing the layer (a.k.a. Z-axis) of elements within the document.
Object: Contains properties of objects or elements within a document including rotation, grouping, fill and stroke, and many more.
Path: Contains properties of path type objects including bezier curves, squares, circles, etc. This is used to edit nodes of the path.
Text: Contains properties specific to text objects like font, spelling, and placing text on a path.
Filters: Contains visual effects that can be applied to the document
Extensions: Contains various other effects that extend the feature set of Inkscape.
Help: Contains a variety of help resources including tutorials for using Inkscape.

2. Commands Bar

This bar has what the developers thought would be the most commonly accessed options from the menus above. From left to right the default set includes:

New document
Open document
Import bitmap or other SVG
Export as bitmap: Saving the file will produce an SVG, exporting as a bitmap allows you to make a PNG file that is more widely usable on the web.
Zoom to fit (current selection)
Zoom to fit (current drawing)
Zoom to fit (entire page)
Duplicate: Creates an exact copy of the currently selected object directly on top of it. You can drag and drop it to another place if you want.
Clone: Creates an exact copy of the currently selected object that will automatically receive the same changes as the source object received.
Cut clone links: Essentially turns a clone into a normal duplicate.
Fill and Stroke: Opens the dialog for background and line properties.
Text properties: For detailed font editing.
View Layers
View XML: SVG files are actually a particular type of XML, this shows you the source.
Align and Distribute: Opens the alignment dialog for adjusting and aligning objects to the page and relative to other objects.
Inkscape Preferences
Document Preferences

3. Tool Controls Bar

This toolbars contents change depending on which tool you currently have selected. Depends entirely upon the currently selected tool, usually has all the relevant options for said tool. For example, with the text tool selected this bar contains font and text alignment settings.

4. Toolbox

Usually defaults to the left side of the window. This contains the following tools:

Select (F1)
Paths (F2)
Zoom (F3)
Rectangles (F4)
3D boxes
Circles (F5)
Stars and polygons (*)
Spirals (F9)
Freehand Draw (F6)
Bezier Curves (Shift+F6)
Calligraphic Draw (Ctrl+F6)
Text (F8)
Spray paint (Shift+F3)
Erase (Shift+E)
Fill (Shift+F7)

5. Rulers

These are set like a typical mathematical graph. The 0,0 point is set at the pages bottom left corner. Positive x-values extend to the right of the 0,0 point and positive y-values extend up from the 0,0 point.

6. Dialogs

Various dialogs are used to manage more complex settings than the Tools Control Bar will allow for. These dialogs open on the right side of the window and can be shrunk or raised anytime by pressing F12.

Oft used dialogs include Fill and Stroke and Align and Distribute.

7. Palette and Status Bar

Although technically separate bars, these are more useful in conjunction. The Palette provides a wide range of colors for ready access and can be scrolled horizontally. Right clicking allows setting colors of a currently selected objects fill and stroke. The white square with a red X stands for transparency.

The status bar shows the currently selected objects status. Usually including its Fill color, Stroke color, opacity, layer, x, y, and z coordinates, and other information depending on the object type.

8. Very Useful Keyboard Shortcuts

zoom out
+ zoom in
F1 or s select tool
F2 or n path node tool
F3 or z zoom tool
F4 or r rectangle tool
F5 or e ellipse tool
F6 or p freehand draw tool
F7 or d dropper tool
F8 or t text tool
F9 or i spiral tool
F10 file menu shortcut
F11 full screen
F12 show/hide dialogs
1-6 different levels of zoom
hold q for temporary zoom
control+a select all

Some keyboard shortcuts only work while using a specific tool or have different effects with different tools.

The bezier curves and straight lines tool is one of the most useful, here are some keyboard shortcuts specific to it.

backspace deletes the last segment drawn
holding control snaps the cursor to the grid to help draw geometrical shapes.
enter/return finishes the drawing 



Filed under linux, teaching, technology

5 responses to “Inkscape User Interface Guide

  1. Very nice guide to Inkscape for beginners. It is my primary source for any image editing even though it is a SVG editor.

  2. Hey man,

    Your link asks me to enter a password before I can download the cheatsheet. Great idea tho, to put it in .svg!

  3. Washington Indacochea D.

    Gracias por estos utiles atajos de teclado

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