InkScape Beginner Tutorial: How to Quickly Create a Six Petal Flower

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This InkScape tutorial if intended for beginners. It introduces the vector graphics editor InkScape and then discusses steps to quickly create a six petal flower. The tools and concepts introduced are Circle/Ellipse, node editor, Rotation center, selectio

As already discussed in a previous article, InkScape is an open source software for editing vector graphics. Using this free vector graphics editor you can create complex designs, beautiful borders, colorful patterns and amazing abstract illustrations.

However, if you're new to vector editing, than thinking in terms of vectors for your designs will add the steepness to your learning curve. InkScape has a great UI but there are lot of tips and tricks along with shortcuts which can make life easier.

This series of InkScape tutorials is intended for novices - absolute beginners who do not have any clue how to start with their vector designs. And so they might be helpful to a layman to computer graphics.

When you open InkScape for the first time, you'll find a lot of tools lying in the toolbars at Left Hand Side. You can start playing around with these tools - creating circles, rectangles, polygons, stars and spirals. Just click on the tool and click, drag and drop on the canvas.

To create a flower, we will first of create an ellipse. Click to the tool which is depicted with a circle, its tooltip says, "Create circles, ellipses and arcs". Click on the canvas and drag from top to bottom, moving very slightly towards right to create an oval. (The image illustrates all the steps)

InkScape: Six Petal Flower

Now go to Path Menu (either click on the menu at the top or use shortcut Alt+P) and click on object to path. What you have just done is, you have converted your circle object to a path. A path (you can think of it as a curve) in InkScape is created with one or more nodes. These nodes are called anchor points in Adobe Illustrator. They define the structure of the path.

Before we converted it into a path, the oval shape we created had some properties specific to circle/ellipse objects, using which we could have modified it. It did not have nodes like other ordinary paths. But after modification, it is like an ordinary path, and has four nodes using which we can modify its shape.

On the toolbox, click on node editing tool, it's tooltip reads, "Edit path by nodes". You can now see four nodes. Select the left middle node by clicking on it, and shift + Left Click on the right middle node, now Hit and hold CTRL key and click and drag the two nodes selected slightly upwards. This will give the oval a more petal like shape. Do not over drag, or the top of the petal will have a straight linear shape.

Click on the "Select and transform object" tool which is depicted by an arrow. Click on the petal if it's not already selected. You'll see squeezing/stretching arrows surrounding your petal. Click once more to get rotation arrows. You should be able to see a criss-cross in the center of the petal. Hover your mouse over it, and it will be highlighted with a changed color. This is the pivot point: the center of rotation and skewing. Hit and hold CTRL* and Click on the criss-cross and drag it to the bottom of the petal. (place it approximately on the top of bottom rotation arrow)

Press CTRL+D to duplicate the petal and hit the closing square bracket ']' to rotate. Click on it four times to place the petal at the correct position. Duplicate and rotate like this again four times. Your six petal flower is complete. Hit CTRL+S to save your vector graphic.

* Holding CTRL ensures that the movement occurs only on one axis and it is controlled.

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Posted on Jan 26, 2012