Inkscape Intro

This article by Dimitry Kirsanov originally appeared in TUX Magazine, Issue 6.

Most people seem to think of programs such as Tux Paint, the GIMP, or Adobe Photoshop when you start talking about drawing something. That's natural as they are more like the way someone would draw by hand. We learned to use crayons, colored pencils and water colors first. When we converted to the digital world, we used these programs to continue with that type of drawing.

In computing, these programs work with bitmaps. That is, they are like freehand drawing but as the computer stores everything digitally, a decision must be made as to how many bits are going to be used to represent a particular area of a freehand drawing. Very appropriate for some things including photographs but not always the right answer.

Inkscape, along with a handful of other programs including CorelDraw, are different. They are vector graphic programs. That means they work with points, lines and shapes rather than individual bits. For example, a line can be represented by:

  • a starting point,
  • an ending point,
  • a line width,
  • a color, and
  • possibly, a type such as dashed, dotted, with an arrowhead and such.

This means that what you have drawn can be modified by changing one of the characteristics and can be scaled (for example, to five times the length) without any loss of resolution. A good example of where such a program would make a lot of sense is in mechanical drawing such as a house plan.

In this article, you are introduced to vector graphics and then shown how to do the basics with Inkscape. Stay tuned for more articles on Inkscape in the future.

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