Draw Lines and Curves in Inkscape

If you’d like to learn Inkscape, and just need a little help getting started, here’s something to get you going.

In this tutorial I will show you how to draw lines and curves in Inkscape.  I was asked to write this by someone who wants to use it to draw sewing patterns and just needs to learn a few basic functions. This tutorial would be helpful for someone who is just starting out with Inkscape and has no vector graphic experience.   Watch out though…. you might become an “Inkscapaholic” if you’re not careful!

When I open an Inkscape document I prefer to set it up so that I have no page border showing. If you’d like to change your default setting for this, go to File > Document Properties to open the box.

Document Properties Box

In this case, we are going to import a file to trace over.  To do this, go to File > Import. Click on your file and then Open“Embed” should be selected. Click “Ok”.

Import Box

To keep your image in proportion, select it and click the little padlock. You can also set the height and width, and the units.   

You’ll need to use just a few tools from the Tool Box Bar.Screen capture of Tool Box BAr

To begin drawing lines, use the line drawing tool and click once to begin. Click again to turn a corner.  (Clicking once places a node.)  To finish the path, double-click. This will place the end node and release the tool.

 screen capture of drawn lines

Use the Fill and Stroke Box to set line (Stroke) color and turn off the Fill. You will also want to adjust the width of the Stroke.  I like to make sure the units are set to px for this, but use whichever units you are comfortable with.

Screen capture of Fill and Stroke Box

Continue drawing lines .  Don’t worry about the curves yet, we’ll get to that next.

Screen shot showing how to continue drawing lines

Now you can move nodes (little squares) if you need to. Just click and drag. To adjust curves, click on a node and you will see little handles appear. Drag the handle to change the curve. You can also just drag the middle of the line if you want.

Screen capture of curve handles

You may have some nodes that you’d like to join in order to have a smooth line.

Screen capture showing process to join nodes

If you need to export the file,  select the entire drawing and then group it. Be careful to only select the drawing without the original image.  Make sure that your little padlock is locked to keep the proportion locked. Now click and drag it to the side.

Screen capture of finished drawing. Showing how to select.

With the drawing selected, you are ready to export it. Again, make sure only the drawing is selected, because whatever is selected will be exported. You can set the height and width in desired units. You can also set the dpi.  The file will export as a PNG file. This is a raster (or bitmap) file, meaning that if you have to change the size too much, it may not look as sharp. (For more info on the difference between Raster and Vector, click here.)  If this is a problem, you can re-export it, this time adjusting height/width and/or dpi. Remember when setting the height and width that you want, keep the padlock locked to keep the original proportion.

Screen capture showing export box and selected drawing.

Now you have a PNG file of your drawing.  If you need it in another format, you’ll have to change it in another program.  (I usually just import it into GIMP, which is an open source raster graphics program.  In GIMP, I can change it to a jpg or other format and save it.)

12 Replies to “Draw Lines and Curves in Inkscape”

  1. Wonderful idea and easy to follow instructions. I have lots of sewing patterns and this would be great for so many reasons such as making a copy and resizing patterns. Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. just what I was looking for – actually a lot more – have version .91 so some things different but overall a great move forward in my inkscape understanding

  3. Thanks for the very good tutorial and for everyone’s understanding. I’ve already worked with CorelDraw12, AutoCAD, Paint, Gimp, but I think Inkscape is easier and with good results in photography. I can not find tutorials about organizing the graphical interface, moving toolbars or commands …… Thanks a lot for working to post this useful tutorial for those passionate about graphics.

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