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Helpful Align and Distribute Tips When Using Inkscape

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When you begin doing some serious work in Inkscape, you're going to want to keep your work properly aligned. Let's go over a few cool things with Inkscape's Align and Distribute to make your designs as professional as they can get!

1. Align to Your Page

Step 1

Such a simple, nifty little trick (that I overlooked for too long) is just aligning your stuff to the page. While this is pretty simple, it'll show you exactly how Align and Distribute works.

For this example, just grab a bunch of objects and randomly place them on the page. Look at mine below - what a disaster, right?

objects on pageobjects on pageobjects on page

Step 2

Now, let's get Object > Align and Distribute opened up. Under the "Relative to" menu, select Page. This means whatever object(s) you have selected will respond to the Align and Distribute operations according to your Page dimensions.

align objects to pagealign objects to pagealign objects to page

Step 3

Let's get to work. For this particular example, we want to click "Center on horizontal axis". Then, let's evenly distribute the selection by clicking "Distribute centers equidistantly horizontally".

center align to pagecenter align to pagecenter align to page

Step 4

It's looking pretty good now, but I want to do one last final vertical page align. For this one, we need to check "Treat selection as group" which aligns our selection as one object. Finally, click "Center on vertical axis" to perfectly center our selection of fruit to the page.

treat as grouptreat as grouptreat as group

Not too bad, huh?

aligned to pagealigned to pagealigned to page

2. Align to Other Objects

Step 1

And of course, we can align objects to other specified objects. Let's try this and make some simple design ideas also. In this example, I've randomly arranged the same shapes with different sizes and colors. In Align and Distribute, set "Relative to: Last Selected" (and let's uncheck "Treat selection as group" before we forget).

With these particular settings, it doesn't matter how you select your shapes, but whichever one is selected last will be the shape in which all of the others align to. We want to align to the big purple diamond, so select that one last.

align objects to objectsalign objects to objectsalign objects to objects

Step 2

Clicking "Center on vertical axes" and "Center on horizontal axis" will yield the following design. Pretty neat and extremely efficient.

center align shapescenter align shapescenter align shapes

Step 3

Oh no! You've accidentally unselected everything and now you're left with a pile of useless shapes. Well, instead of trying to select them all individually, let's try this: "Relative to: Biggest object" to the rescue! Now you can just select all of the shapes at once and it'll still align to the big purple one.

biggest selectedbiggest selectedbiggest selected

Step 4

Now we can get back to aligning! Play around with this while trying different shapes and objects. It's easy way for some design inspiration, especially simple and catchy logos.

align shapes to topalign shapes to topalign shapes to top

3. Align Those Nodes!

Step 1

Something else that may be overlooked is the ability to align and distribute nodes. These options won't even show up unless you have the Edit Nodes tool, so select that first and let's do an example.

Say we have a mess of nodes that we've placed, but the spacing is a disaster and we'd like to even things out. Go ahead and select all of the top nodes with the Edit Nodes tool as shown below. Notice that the Align and Distribute window update to nodes mode.

random messy nodesrandom messy nodesrandom messy nodes

Step 2

Then click "Align selected nodes to a common horizontal line" to put those top nodes in place.

align top nodesalign top nodesalign top nodes

Step 3

Repeat with the bottom nodes. If we did both the top and the bottom nodes at the same time, it would just be a straight line.

align bottom nodesalign bottom nodesalign bottom nodes

Step 4

Finally, select all of the nodes and click "Distribute selected nodes horizontally" to even everything out. We've turned a mess of nodes into organized peaks. Pretty neat, huh?

distribute nodesdistribute nodesdistribute nodes

And We're Done!

Thanks for checking out this quick tip on Inkscape's Align and Distribute feature. We've gone over a good amount of the options and explored some cool tricks. I hope you learned a thing or two to keep your designs neat and professional!

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