Inkscape's popularity has grown significantly over the past few years making its way into the professional sector, particularly with Animators and Game Developers. But what about creating professional vector work for stock art sites, similar to what you might find from an Illustrator professional?
One of the biggest benefits to Inkscape is the fact that it's completely free, which is great for vector artists just starting out, as it contains many of the features you can find in Adobe Illustrator.
However, it can still leave a lot to be desired when directly exporting to EPS (Encapsulated Postscript) for stock sites. In this tutorial we'll be discussing some of the follies of creating stock art using Inkscape, as well as workarounds!
I recommend you keep a legacy version of Inkscape in a separate folder on your computer that's earlier than 0.47, due to the fact that as of this version as there are problems with open paths in EPS files:
I will explain a workaround for higher versions later on in the tutorial, but keep in mindthey will not work 100% of the time and may lead to your file being rejected.
1. Inkscape to EPS Inkscape Version 0.46
First close your open paths. Select your unjoined nodes while Edit Paths by Node is active (F2).
Remove Fills from paths which are meant to stay open.
Select all your open shapes and go into your Object > Fill and Stroke.
Click the "X" button to remove the fill from these shapes, taking care to make sure no shapes you wanted filled were removed.
Select File > Save As and Encapsulated Post Script (*.eps) as the file type. Unless you have text, leave all of the options unchecked
Now if we take the EPS file into another program, there won't be any open paths.
2. Workarounds for Inkscape 0.47 and Above
Download the extension files provided by the people at bugs.launchpad.
Simply right-click and select Save Link As. Download the files to your C:\Program Files\Inkscape\share\extensions folder. Its location may be change depending on where you installed Inkscape:
When you restart Inkscape you will now have a new option in your Save As command called EPS Workaround.The dialogue box will look identical to the normal one in 0.47 and above.
I have found that with this method, you can still end up with stray nodes. They are generally not problematic as they are unfilled, but if your file is rejected for unfilled paths after using this method, that is the most likely culprit.
3. The Illustrator Solution
If you're like me and you have Adobe Illustrator but just like using Inkscape for the interfacehere's how you can use them together to ensure clean files and keep your gradients intact.
This also allows you to save your file in Illustrator format (*.ai) which can help increase sales.
Download the Select Menu Plug-in for your version of Illustrator from this website:
Put the selectMenu.aip into to your "Plug-ins" folder (if you already have Illustrator open you may need to restart).
Download the Close All Paths/Close Selected Paths
Put the Close Selected Paths.js and Close All Paths.js into your Illustrator Presets/Scripts folder.
Open your Inkscape SVG file in Adobe Illustrator and use the new Select > Object function, Open Paths.
If none of the paths that light up are open and filled (i.e. they are just lines), you're in the clear. Skip to Step 5, If not, proceed with Step 4.
Carefully select the paths you want to close using the Direct Selection Tool (A).
Before saving your file as an EPS, check your Window > Links and make sure there are no links in the file.
These links represent rasterized elements and may cause an immediate rejection of your files. If you havea linked image after following this section of the tutorial, make sure you opened the SVG file in Illustrator and not an EPS file.
Now you can Save File > Save As > Illustrator EPS (*.eps)
4. Create Stock Wallpapers in Inkscape
There are special challenges at times when creating wallpapers in Inkscape if you needto include a source file. Most of these issues can be resolved at the start of the image, ratherthan after you've completed the image.
I won't be showing you how to make specific graphic elements for this tutorial beyondproperly setting up your background as it is more about getting your wallpaper ready for submission to stock art sites.
Make sure you start off with the Artboard size you want before putting any graphic elements on it. I've run into issues where if you save the SVG file in Inkscape and then try to bring it into Illustrator and start messing with the Artboard size it willreject the changes.
I usually like to start big with my wallpapers, unfortunately Inkscape does not have a defaultsetting above 1600 x 1200.
Select File > New.
Open your Document Properties (File > Document Properties (Shift-Control-D))
Make sure the Orientation is Landscape for a desktop wallpaper. Your size requirements may be different depending on what kind of device you're making it for but I tend to like 2048 x 1536 for its size and versatility.
Make a box with the Rectangle Tool (F4)
Switch to Select and Transform Objects mode (F1) and change the size ofyour box to the size of the document page.
Set your Alignment Settings Relative to Page by opening the Align and Distribute Dialogue Box (Shift-Control-A) andselect Page from the drop down menu.
Click Align Left Edges and Align Top Edges.
Lock the layer with the background by clicking the padlock icon next to the layerthat has the background.
Add a new layer (Shift-Control-N) and draw the elements of your wallpaper, taking care to make sure they're inside the bounds of thepage.
Make use of the align function with elements that go to the edge of the page. Make sureno objects outside the bounds of the page, otherwise your file may be rejected.This is less of a concern with sites you are not submitting a source file to as you can crop the excess elements out of the image.
One thing that can be tricky in Inkscape is trying to align a stroke with the edge of a page. I recommendbuilding shapes rather than relying on the edge of the stroke to line it up. If you are attempting to makea shape that goes across the entire page, avoid having a stroke on it where possible.
Whether you use a Butt Cap:
Or a Square Cap:
You can see there are problems aligning the stroke to the edge of the page, so it is preferableto build the shape you want for easy alignment using the Bezier Curve tool (Shift-F6) rather than rely on strokes for linesthat go across the page:
Try to avoid gradient fills and partial transparency when making wallpapers as well unless you are going to be finishing the file in Illustrator as in the previous section.
Some strange things can happen to your EPS file when your item is a full page. For example if you bring this file into Illustrator after saving it as an EPS in version 0.46, we see this:
If you go into File > Document Setup (Alt-Control-P) in Illustrator and change the artboard size,you will also notice it appears as though the wallpaper has been resized.
Use the Object Properties input at the top of the screen to change the size of the image.
Then drag the object to the top left of the artboard, it should snap to the page.
You can now save your file as an EPS using the settings we used before for saving in Illustrator.
I also recommend saving it an Illustrator (*.ai) file using the following settings.
5. Pros and Cons of Inkscape for Creating Stock Art
In this tutorial we've gone over many work arounds to help you save files for submitting to stock marketplaces. However let's just look at the pros and cons of using Inkscape for creating stock art.
- Interface that is easy to learn and use for new designers as well as Adobe professionals
- Easy to install extensions that help make converting easier
- Helpful community
- Completely free for commercial work
- Legacy versions are available on SourceForge if you do not like a change that was made
- Still best used in combination with Illustrator for maximum compatibility
- Takes extra work to make sure you have clean files
- Updates to solve the "Open Paths" issue in version 0.47 may take awhile to arrive
This may just be personal taste, but overall I find the user interface of Inkscape worth the little extra work to make sure my files are accepted.
Are You an Inkscape Convert?
You should now be well on your way to getting your files accepted by stock art sites.Each stock art site is different so you should always check their submission rules for EPS filesbefore submitting. It's always good to include an SVG file just as an extra since Illustratorusers can open these as well. Most sites don't require you to include the Illustrator file, but it also helps.
I hope that in the future Inkscape updates many of these issues. Inkscape isa wonderful tool that rivals many of the industry standards. For now, these workarounds willhelp you use Inkscape in a professional setting.