Want a free year on Tuts+ (worth $180)? Start an InMotion Hosting plan for $3.49/mo.
Today, we're going to do something a little different. Let's take a look at the upcoming Inkscape 0.91 (that's currently in development) and explore some of the best new features that will make our vector lives that much better.
If you'd like to follow along, I'm going to be using Inkscape 0.91 pre 1.0 which you can grab right here. Keep in mind that these are unstable releases at the moment, so you may run into an issue or two.
If you'd like to learn more about this free vector software, check out my course, Introduction to Inkscape, which is ideal for beginners.
1. The Measurement Tool
First up, we have an entirely new main tool! It's called the Measurement tool, it's very straightforward, and it looks a little something like this:
You simple click and drag to get various measurements of your document. You can see below that it creates clever midpoints between objects as you drag over them. Neat stuff!
2. Import Clip Art
One of my favorite new features is File > Import Clip Art. I nice dialog box pops up with a simple search bar.
I typed down the most random thing I could thing of, and to my pleasant surprise, I was given a nice list of great clip art! Now, this isn't magic (though it seems like it) but it's actually coming from the openclipart.org library.
I went ahead and selected my trash can of choice and it was immediately placed into my document. How cool is this?
Since the Open Clip Art Library is completely public domain and this clip art is full vector, we can do something like this!
Even though this is an amazing new feature, Inkscape has always been able to import an impressive amount of file types! If you want to learn about these, I go over Importing Other File Types in my Introduction to Inkscape Course.
3. The Symbol Library
Another excellent addition is the Object > Symbols menu. You'll be able to find a decent amount of popular symbols that can be dragged and dropped onto your document.
I've added a few cool looking map symbols below, and now you can see they appear under the Current Document menu.
There are also symbols such as Word Balloons and AIGA Symbols.
4. Trace Pixel Art
Here's another pretty neat feature that you can find at Path > Trace Pixel Art. I imported a pixel heart that I had laying around for this example, but you can use any sort of pixel art for this.
I selected my heart and ran it on the standard settings with Output: Voronoi diagram. I ended up with a very neat looking design that converted each pixel into interesting shapes.
And here's the trace with Output: Convert to B-spline curves. This created a normal looking trace where each collection of colors became it's own path/shape.
This Trace Pixel Art feature is actually pretty similar to the Trace Bitmap feature in the current version of Inkscape. You can learn Trace Bitmap like a pro in the Trace Bitmap Lesson in my Advanced Techniques in Inkscape Course.
5. Extensive Typography
If this seems a little advanced, you can certainly check out the lesson on the basics of Text and Font in my Introduction to Inkscape Course.
Inkscape 0.91 is making great improvements in the text and typography area. If you head up to Extensions > Typography > 1 - Setup Typography Canvas, you'll get a dialog box with the main typography settings.
The cool part about this extension is that it completely transforms your document to be typography friendly.
I made my document size wider than is should be so I could show off how these guides work. Which, by the way, you can go ahead and drag the guides if you need to fine tune.
After you get your guides in place, the goal here is to go back to Extensions > Typography > 2 - Add Glyph Layer for each letter/symbol you design. And ultimately, you'll be able to Extensions > Typography > Convert Glyph Layers to SVG Font. How amazing is this?
6. Other Cool Improvements
Standard dialog boxes, such as Export Bitmap (Export PNG Image in 0.91 pre1) are now dockable so you don't have to have menu boxes flying around everywhere.
Under File > Document Properties, there's now an option to enable/disable antialiasing! In case you don't know, antialiasing will make the edges of your objects and drawings appear smoother (less jagged).
Also note that this doesn't change the way your artwork is published - just how it appears when you're in Inkscape.
Also, be sure to check out the other new Extensions, such as Export, Gcodetools, and Stylesheet.
Since there are so many extensions, it can be pretty overwhelming. If you'd like, you can take a look at this comprehensive overview of Useful Extensions in my Advanced Techniques in Inkscape Course.
That Finishes Things Up!
As you can see, Inkscape 0.91 is looking to be an absolutely incredible piece of open-source software. We went over improvements such as anti-aliasing, an entirely new Measurement tool, and an ambitious setup for advanced typography. Are you excited now, or what? Thanks for reading!