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Quick Tip: Fun Tricks With Inkscape's Polygon Tool


The Polygon tool in Inkscape has a slight learning curve, but can be an excellent way to speed up the creation of complex shapes. In this quick tip, we'll go over some neat tricks to make the Polygon tool more useful with your designs.

1. The Polygon Tool Basics

When you select the Polygon tool, you'll be able to draw Regular Polygons or Stars. On the top menu, you'll also see the options: Corners, Spoke ratio, Rounded, and Randomized. We'll go over these in the next couple steps.

polygons and stars

Step 1

Regular polygons have only one handle which can only be used to rotate or stretch the shape.

regular polygons

Let's go over those options:

  • Corners: Number of corners/sides (minimum of 3)
  • Spoke ratio: Not available for regular polygons
  • Rounded: Value of rounding all corners and sides (-10 to 10)
  • Randomized: Value of randomizing the positions of the corners (-10 to 10)

You'll notice below that I have a regular polygon with 6 corners and a Rounded value of 0.125 which creates a good looking, smooth hexagon.

regular polygon options

Step 2

Unlike the Regular polygon, Star polygons have two handles. The outer handle is used to rotate or stretch the star, but the inner handle is used to adjust the Spoke ratio and spoke angle.

star polygons

The options are pretty much the same, but there are a few differences:

  • Corners: Number of spokes (minimum 3)
  • Spoke ratio: Ratio of the spoke length from the center (0.10 to 1)
  • Rounded: Value of rounding the spokes and joins (-10 to 10)
  • Randomized: Value of randomizing spoke position, length, etc. (-10 to 10)
star polygon options

The randomized option is pretty much complete chaos. If you're wondering what it looks like, here you go:

randomized polygon

2. Convert Polygons in Inkscape

Step 1

To change a regular polygon into a star, simply click the Star polygon. It may not look like it has changed anything, but what it did was add that second handle.

convert polygons

Step 2

To change a star into a regular polygon, just click the Regular polygon button. Quite plainly, it removes that second handle which in turn, makes it a regular polygon.

converting polygons

3. Use Polygons as Shape Starters

Step 1

Let's say we'd like to draw a complicated shape, such as a "heart". We can use a basic polygon to help get us started. So let's just make a star polygon with 3 Corners, so it creates a triangle.

draw triangle

Step 2

You'll want to go to Path > Object to Path so we can work on this shape properly. Then, just add a couple more nodes as shown below.

add nodes

Step 3

Now, just select the appropriate nodes and smooth those out.

position nodes

Step 4

With a little touch up, you'll end up with a perfectly drawn heart. This is just an example how you could use polygons to create a foundation for complex shapes.

polygon heart

4. Create Amazingly Complex Shapes

This is my personal favorite use of the Polygon tool.

Step 1

What I have below is a star polygon with some crazy options that barely qualifies this shape as a polygon anymore. As you can see though, there's a pretty awesome design in the middle there. We're going to get it!

polygon designs

Step 2

Draw something like a square that entirely covers our cool design in the middle (try not to go over the polygon). Make sure you convert both of these shapes into paths by Path > Object to Path.

draw shape over polygon

Step 3

Send that square to the back by Object > Lower to Bottom. With both shapes selected, you can go to Path > Difference.

path difference

Step 4

Tada! You're left with just that neat design now.

extracted design

Here's another crazy polygon I came up with that has an amazing design in there. We can go ahead and grab this design using the exact same method we've just used.

I also had to drag the handles around a bit to get the shape exactly how I wanted it.

amazing polygon design

Here's an example of a design that uses one of these complex shapes. Neat, huh?

polygon flower

That Should Do It!

You should have a good understanding on how Inkscape's Polygon tool works, along with some neat tricks to make polygons more useful. Keep messing around with those settings to come up with some awesome shapes and even some amazing designs! Thanks for reading.

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