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StixcampNewstead – Donna Benjamin’s talk on Inkscape


Donna Benjamin is President of Linux Users’ Victoria and is quite influential in the open source community. Her talk at StixCampNewstead was on the open source product ‘Inkscape‘ – which provides a free alternative to programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Fireworks.

Most people at the presentation had had some exposure to Inkscape which made Donna’s presentation all the more interesting. She demonstrated a number of the features of Inkscape including:

  • Bezier curves
  • Stroke and fill options

Inkscape produces scalable vector graphics – as opposed to the raster images produced by the likes of Photoshop. This makes it quite a useful tool for large format printing, such as for banners. It can also be scripted, for instance by taking XML input and using it to have dynamic text represented in an image.

Inkscape provides very fine grained controlled over stroke and fill options – I was very impressed by the stroke options available. Often in graphics programs the stroke options go to a minimum of .5pt for stroke – but Inkscape can go much finer which is useful for line art based designs.

The creation above is my first attempt at using Inkscape (keep in mind I’m fluent with Illustrator, Fireworks and Photoshop) and generally it is very easy to use. The interfaces are a little foreign at first, but then any graphics application that’s reasonably mature usually is. The only real difficulty I had was that it does not output PNG natively – it has to first be converted to a raster image. When importing between Inkscape and GIMP, there were also some parts of the image that were not correctly converted.