Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Inkscape - Draw Freely

One of the many things I've been fooling around with lately is Inkscape. This is an open source vector-based illustration application (phew..that was a mouthful!). So instead of creating raster based images like you would with Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, or the Gimp, you work with lines, shapes and fills to create Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files. The advantage is that everything you create and work with is resolution independent and scalable. There are so many things you can do with a program like Inkscape that you can't with a raster based application (the reverse of course, is also true).

One of the most interesting things I like about the program is it's implementation of tutorials. There are several tutorials accessible from the help menu. Each one is actually an SVG file itself. So the informative text is interspersed with examples that you can play with right then and there. For instance it might describe how to scale, skew or rotate an object and it has several shapes right there for you to practice on. I've not met a tutorial yet that is as simple and effective for any application I've used.

In addition, if you need to, anything you create can be exported to a bitmap image the size of which is determined by you. So you could create a drawing and then save it out to be 80 pixels or 8000 pixels wide.

The new logo at the top of this blog is an example of my current doodling with it. Actually I used Inkscape to create the round logo and text and then used the Gimp to create the reflection. Don't worry, if you don't like the new header for the site it will likely change anyway...such is the nature of fiddling with a new program ;) I'll likely come up with something I like more anyway.

An additional side benefit is that it is available for both Windows and Linux. So I can use it in either environment with no discernible difference (that I'm aware of anyway).

So onwards and upwards. It seems I keep finding things to explore at the expense of the things that I really should be doing - I'm not quite sure how learning to use Inkscape will help complete my half-finished basement...ah well, all in the name of progress!