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Quick Tip: Using and Modifying Brush Strokes in Inkscape


There's a lot that goes into brush strokes in Inkscape, but it pays off with beautiful results. Let's break down the many options available for brush strokes in Inkscape and also go over a few tricks that are sure to keep brush strokes part of your designing.

1. The Brush Strokes Tool

Step 1

At first glance, there doesn't seem to be a Brush Strokes tool. It's actually called the Calligraphy or Brush Strokes tool, which looks a little something like this:

brush strokes tool

Step 2

Once you select the Brush Strokes tool, you'll notice it's menu is filled with a ton of settings and options. First, you'll see some presets which are pretty useful. Right after that is Width, which is simply the width of your brush stroke. The rest of these options are a little tricky, so let's just go over these in a little more detail.

brush strokes options

2. Tinker with Settings

Step 1

Below you'll see a brush stroke with zero Thinning, Positive Thinning, and Negative Thinning. Without the use of a pressure sensitive input device, the thinning is added by how fast your cursor moves while drawing. The larger the Thinning value is (positive or negative) the more intense the thinning will be.

thinning strokes

Step 2

This time you'll see a brush stroke with zero Fixation, then a brush stroke with full Fixation (100) and an Angle of 90. As you can tell, this adds a sort of dipped pen or ribbon effect. The Fixation is the intensity of which to apply the specified Angle (-90 to 90).

angle strokes

Step 3

Now for some of the more crazy settings are Tremor and Wiggle. Below you'll see a brush stroke with zero Tremor or Wiggle, full Tremor, and full Wiggle.

wiggle tremor

3. Track a Guided Path

Step 1

Here's a neat little trick. After you draw a brush stroke, hold Control and you'll see a circle pop up. You'll notice the circle resizes depending on how close to the previous path you are. What this is going to do is lock in the distance from the previous stroke and guide you as you draw the new path.

guided path

Step 2

Let me demonstrate below. Also note that you can track any previously selected path, it doesn't just have to be brush strokes.

guided path tracking

4. Draw with Brush Strokes

Step 1

This is a pretty neat idea that I came up with while playing with some of the Brush Stroke tool settings. For this, I have Width: 60, Thinning: 0, Angle: 0, Fixation: 90, Caps: 0, Tremor: 100, Wiggle: 0, Mass: 2. If you notice below, I slowly just drag downwards to create this crazy scattered brush, but then I realized this may be neat for some sort of water reflection.

draw with brushes

Step 2

I wanted to chop up the reflection a bit to make it more realistic, so I just duplicated my reflection brush stroke and stretched it out over the right edge of the original. Afterwards, select them both and head to Path > Difference. Repeat this on the left side also.

duplicate and difference

Step 3

I ended up with something like this. I just added a light source to the sky there to finish the concept, but let's keep going!

water reflection brush stroke

Step 4

Again, I took my reflection brush stroke and stretched it out a ton to add some ripples in the lake. I did a set of lighter blue ripples along with a set of darker blue ripples.

duplicate and stretch

Step 5

Then I just added a couple glows here and there, blurred some of the ripples, and now we have a neat little drawing composed almost entirely of brush strokes.

moon reflection lake

Let's Brush this Off!

We went over the concept of brush strokes in Inkscape along with some of the advanced settings that are available. As you can probably tell, there's so many combinations of settings when using brush strokes, they're bound to come in handy in your designs. Thanks for reading!

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